All that the Scotch people need now for the prosperity of their country is the temperance reformation; and undoubtedly they will have it. They have good sense and strength of mind enough to work out whatever they choose.
We went home tired enough.
The next day we had a few calls to make, and an invitation from Lady Drummond to visit "classic Hawthornden." Accordingly, in the forenoon, Mr. S. and I called first on Lord and Lady Gainsborough; though, she is one of the queen's household, she is staying here at Edinburgh, and the queen at Osborne. I infer therefore that the appointment includes no very onerous duties. The Earl of Gainsborough is the eldest brother of Rev. Baptist W. Noel.
Lady Gainsborough is the daughter of the Earl of Roden, who is an Irish lord of the very strictest Calvinistic persuasion: He is a devout man, and for many years, we were told, maintained a Calvinistic church of the English establishment in Paris. While Mr. S. talked with Lord Gainsborough, I talked with his lady, and Lady Roden, who was present. Lady Gainsborough inquired about our schools for the poor, and how they were conducted. I reflected a moment, and then answered that we had no schools for the poor as such, but the common school was open alike to all classes.[K]
In England and Scotland, in all classes, from the queen downward, no movements are so popular as those for the education and elevation of the poor; one is seldom in company without hearing the conversation turn upon them.
The conversation generally turned upon the condition of servants in America. I said that one of the principal difficulties in American housekeeping proceeded from the fact that there were so many other openings of profit that very few were found willing to assume the position of the servant, except as a temporary expedient; in fact, that the whole idea of service was radically different, it being a mere temporary contract to render certain services, not differing essentially from the contract of the mechanic or tradesman. The ladies said they thought there could be no family feeling among servants if that was the case; and I replied that, generally speaking, there was none; that old and attached family servants in the free states were rare exceptions.
This, I know, must look, to persons in old countries, like a hard and discouraging feature of democracy. I regard it, however, as only a temporary difficulty. Many institutions among us are in a transition state. Gradually the whole subject of the relations of labor and the industrial callings will assume a new form in America, and though we shall never be able to command the kind of service secured in aristocratic countries, yet we shall have that which will be as faithful and efficient. If domestic service can be made as pleasant, profitable, and respectable as any of the industrial callings, it will soon become as permanent.
Our next visit was to Sir William Hamilton and lady. Sir William is the able successor of Dugald Stewart and Dr. Brown in the chair of intellectual philosophy. His writings have had a wide circulation in America. He is a man of noble presence, though we were sorry to see that he was suffering from ill health. It seems to me that Scotland bears that relation to England, with regard to metaphysical inquiry, that New England does to the rest of the United States. If one counts over the names of distinguished metaphysicians, the Scotch, as compared with the English, number three to one—Reid, Stewart, Brown, all Scotchmen.
Sir William still writes and lectures. He and Mr. S. were soon discoursing on German, English, Scotch, and American metaphysics, while I was talking with Lady Hamilton and her daughters. After we came away Mr. S. said, that no man living had so thoroughly understood and analyzed the German philosophy. He said that Sir William spoke of a call which he had received from Professor Park, of Andover, and expressed himself in high terms of his metaphysical powers.
After that we went to call on George Combe, the physiologist. We found him and Mrs. Combe in a pleasant, sunny parlor, where, among other objects of artistic interest, we saw a very fine engraving of Mrs. Siddons. I was not aware until after leaving that Mrs. Combe is her daughter. Mr. Combe, though somewhat advanced, seems full of life and animation, and conversed with a great deal of warmth and interest on America, where he made a tour some years since. Like other men in Europe who sympathize in our progress, he was sanguine in the hope that the downfall of slavery must come at no distant date.
After a pleasant chat here we came home; and after an interval of rest the carriage was at the door for Hawthornden. It is about seven miles out from Edinburgh. It is a most romantic spot, on the banks of the River Esk, now the seat of Mr. James Walker Drummond. Scott has sung in the ballad of the Gray Brother,—
Sweet are the paths, O, passing sweet, By Esk's fair streams that run, O'er airy steep, through copse-woods deep, Impervious to the sun.
Who knows not Melville's beechy grove, And Roslin's rocky glen, Dalkeith, which all the virtues love, And classic Hawthornden?
"Melville's beechy grove" is an allusion to the grounds of Lord Melville, through which we drove on our way. The beech trees here are magnificent; fully equal to any trees of the sort which I have seen in our American forests, and they were in full leaf. They do not grow so high, but have more breadth and a wider sweep of branches; on the whole they are well worthy of a place in song.
I know in my childhood I often used to wish that I could live in a ruined castle; and this Hawthornden would be the very beau ideal of one as a romantic dwelling-place. It is an old castellated house, perched on the airy verge of a precipice, directly over the beautiful River Esk, looking down one of the most romantic glens in Scotland. Part of it is in ruins, and, hung with wreaths of ivy, it seems to stand just to look picturesque. The house itself, with its quaint, high gables, and gray, antique walls, appears old enough to take you back to the times of William Wallace. It is situated within an hour's walk of Roslin Castle and Chapel, one of the most beautiful and poetic architectural remains in Scotland.
Our drive to the place was charming. It was a showery day; but every few moments the sun blinked out, smiling through the falling rain, and making the wet leaves glitter, and the raindrops wink at each other in the most sociable manner possible. Arrived at the house, our friend, Miss S——, took us into a beautiful parlor overhanging the glen, each window of which commanded a picture better than was ever made on canvas.
We had a little chat with Lady Drummond, and then we went down to examine the caverns,—for there are caverns under the house, with long galleries and passages running from them through the rocks, some way down the river. Several apartments are hollowed out here in the rock on which the house is founded, which they told us belonged to Bruce; the tradition being, that he was hidden here for some months. There was his bed room, dining room, sitting room, and a very curious apartment where the walls were all honeycombed into little partitions, which they called his library, these little partitions being his book shelves. There are small loophole windows in these apartments, where you can look up and down the glen, and enjoy a magnificent prospect. For my part, I thought if I were Bruce, sitting there with a book in my lap, listening to the gentle brawl of the Esk, looking up and down the glen, watching the shaking raindrops on the oaks, the birches and beeches, I should have thought that was better than fighting, and that my pleasant little cave was as good an arbor on the Hill Difficulty as ever mortal man enjoyed.
There is a ponderous old two-handed sword kept here, said to have belonged to Sir William Wallace. It is considerably shorter than it was originally, but, resting on its point, it reached to the chin of a good six foot gentleman of our party. The handle is made of the horn of a sea-horse, (if you know what that is,) and has a heavy iron ball at the end. It must altogether have weighed some ten or twelve pounds. Think of a man hewing away on men with this!
There is a well in this cavern, down which we were directed to look and observe a hole in the side; this we were told was the entrance to another set of caverns and chambers under those in which we were, and to passages which extended down and opened out into the valley. In the olden days the approach to these caverns was not through the house, but through the side of a deep well sunk in the court yard, which communicates through a subterranean passage with this well. Those seeking entrance were let down by a windlass into the well in the court yard, and drawn up by a windlass into this cavern. There was no such accommodation at present, but we were told some enterprising tourists had explored the lower caverns. Pleasant kind of times those old days must have been, when houses had to be built like a rabbit burrow, with all these accommodations for concealment and escape.
After exploring the caverns we came up into the parlors again, and Miss S. showed me a Scottish album, in which were all sorts of sketches, memorials, autographs, and other such matters. What interested me more, she was making a collection of Scottish ballads, words and tunes. I told her that I had noticed, since I had been in Scotland, that the young ladies seemed to take very little interest in the national Scotch airs, and were all devoted to Italian; moreover, that the Scotch ballads and memories, which so interested me, seemed to have very little interest for people generally in Scotland. Miss S. was warm enough in her zeal to make up a considerable account, and so we got on well together.
While we were sitting, chatting, two young ladies came in, who had walked up the glen despite the showery day. They were protected by good, substantial outer garments, of a kind of shag or plush, and so did not fear the rain. I wanted to walk down to Roslin Castle, but the party told me there would not be time this afternoon, as we should have to return at a certain hour. I should not have been reconciled to this, had not another excursion been proposed for the purpose of exploring Roslin.
However, I determined to go a little way down the glen, and get a distant view of it, and my fair friends, the young ladies, offered to accompany me; so off we started down the winding paths, which were cut among the banks overhanging the Esk. The ground was starred over with patches of pale-yellow primroses, and for the first time I saw the heather, spreading over rocks and matting itself around the roots of trees. My companions, to whom it was the commonest thing in the world, could hardly appreciate the delight which I felt in looking at it; it was not in flower; I believe it does not blossom till some time in July or August. We have often seen it in greenhouses, and it is so hardy that it is singular it will not grow wild in America.
We walked, ran, and scrambled to an eminence which commanded a view of Roslin Chapel, the only view, I fear, which will ever gladden my eyes, for the promised expedition to it dissolved itself into mist. When on the hill top, so that I could see the chapel at a distance, I stood thinking over the ballad of Harold, in the Lay of the Last Minstrel, and the fate of the lovely Rosabel, and saying over to myself the last verses of the ballad:—
"O'er Roslin, all that dreary night, A wondrous blaze was seen to gleam; 'Twas broader than the watchfire's light, And redder than the bright moonbeam.
It glared on Roslin's castled rock, It ruddied, all the copsewood glen; 'Twas seen from Deyden's groves of oak, And seen from cavern'd Hawthornden.
Seemed all on fire that chapel proud, Where Roslin's chiefs uncoffined lie, Each baron, for a sable shroud, Sheathed in his iron panoply.
Seemed all on fire within, around, Deep sacristy and altar's pale; Shone every pillar foliage-bound, And glimmered, all the dead men's mail.
Blazed battlement and pinnet high, Blazed every rose-carved buttress fair, So will they blaze, when fate is nigh The lordly line of high St. Clair.
There are twenty of Roslin's barons bold Lie buried, within that proud chapelle; Each one the holy vault doth hold; But the sea holds lovely Rosabelle!
And each St. Clair was buried there, With candle, with book, and with knell; But the sea caves rung, and the wild winds sung, The dirge of lovely Rosabelle."
There are many allusions in this which show Scott's minute habits of observation; for instance, these two lines:—
"Blazed battlement and pinnet high, Blazed every rose-carved buttress fair."
Every buttress, battlement, and projection of the exterior is incrusted with the most elaborate floral and leafy carving, among which the rose is often repeated, from its suggesting, by similarity of sound, Roslin.
Again, this line—
"Shone every pillar foliage-bound"—
suggests to the mind the profusion and elaborateness of the leafy decorations in the inside. Among these, one pillar, garlanded with spiral wreaths of carved foliage, is called the "Apprentice's Pillar;" the tradition being, that while the master was gone to Rome to get some further hints on executing the plan, a precocious young mason, whom he left at home, completed it in his absence. The master builder summarily knocked him on the head, as a warning to all progressive young men not to grow wiser than their teachers. Tradition points out the heads of the master and workmen among the corbels. So you see, whereas in old Greek times people used to point out their celebrities among the stars, and gave a defunct hero a place in the constellations, in the middle ages he only got a place among the corbels.
I am increasingly sorry that I was beguiled out of my personal examination of this chapel, since I have seen the plates of it in my Baronial Sketches. It is the rival of Melrose, but more elaborate; in fact, it is a perfect cataract of architectural vivacity and ingenuity, as defiant of any rules of criticism and art as the leaf-embowered arcades and arches of our American forest cathedrals. From the comparison of the plates of the engravings, I should judge there was less delicacy of taste, and more exuberance of invention, than in Melrose. One old prosaic commentator on it says that it is quite remarkable that there are no two cuts in it precisely alike; each buttress, window, and pillar is unique, though with such a general resemblance to each other as to deceive the eye.
It was built in 1446, by William St. Clair, who was Prince of Orkney, Duke of Oldenburgh, Lord of Roslin, Earl of Caithness and Strathearn, and so on ad infinitum. He was called the "Seemly St. Clair," from his noble deportment and elegant manners; resided in royal splendor at this Castle of Roslin, and kept a court there as Prince of Orkney. His table was served with vessels of gold and silver, and he had one lord for his master of household, one for his cup bearer, and one for his carver. His princess, Elizabeth Douglas, was served by seventy-five gentlewomen, fifty-three of whom were daughters of noblemen, and they were attended in all their excursions by a retinue of two hundred gentlemen.
These very woods and streams, which now hear nothing but the murmurs of the Esk, were all alive with the bustle of a court in those days.
The castle was now distinctly visible; it stands on an insulated rock, two hundred and twenty yards from the chapel. It has under it a set of excavations and caverns almost equally curious with those of Hawthornden; there are still some tolerably preserved rooms in it, and Mrs. W. informed me that they had once rented these rooms for a summer residence. What a delightful idea! The barons of Roslin were all buried under this Chapel, in their armor, as Scott describes in the poem. And as this family were altogether more than common folks, it is perfectly credible that on the death of one of them a miraculous light should illuminate the castle, chapel, and whole neighborhood.
It appears, by certain ancient documents, that this high and mighty house of St. Clair were in a particular manner patrons of the masonic craft. It is known that the trade of masonry was then in the hands of a secret and mysterious order, from whom probably our modern masons have descended.
The St. Clair family, it appears, were at the head of this order, with power to appoint officers and places of meeting, to punish transgressors, and otherwise to have the superintendence of all their affairs. This fact may account for such a perfect Geyser of architectural ingenuity as has been poured out upon their family chapel, which was designed for a chef-d'oeuvre, a concentration of the best that could be done to the honor of their patron's family. The documents which authenticate this statement are described in Billings's Baronial Antiquities. So much for "the lordly line of high St. Clair."
When we came back to the house, and after taking coffee in the drawing room, Miss S. took me over the interior, a most delightful place, full of all sorts of out-of-the-way snuggeries, and comfortable corners, and poetic irregularities. There she showed me a picture of one of the early ancestors of the family, the poet Drummond, hanging in a room, which tradition has assigned to him. It represents a man with a dark, Spanish-looking face, with the broad Elizabethan ruff, earnest, melancholy eyes, and an air half cavalier, half poet, bringing to mind the chivalrous, graceful, fastidious bard, accomplished scholar, and courtier of his time, the devout believer in the divine right of kings, and of the immunities and privileges of the upper class generally. This Drummond, it seems, was early engaged to a fair young lady, whose death rendered his beautiful retreat of Hawthornden insupportable to him, and of course, like other persons of romance, he sought refuge in foreign travel, went abroad, and remained eight years. Afterwards he came back, married, and lived here for some time.
Among other traditions of the place, it is said that Ben Jonson once walked all the way from London to visit the poet in this retreat; and a tree is still shown on the grounds under which they are said to have met. It seems that Ben's habits were rather too noisy and convivial to meet altogether the taste of his fastidious and aristocratic host; and so he had his own thoughts of him, which, being written down in a diary, were published by some indiscreet executor, after they were both dead.
We were shown an old, original edition of the poems. I must confess I never read them. Since I have seen the material the poet and novelist has on this ground, all I wonder at is, that there have not been a thousand poets to one. I should have thought they would have been as plenty as the mavis and merle, and sprouting out every where, like the primroses and heather bells.
Our American literature is unfortunate in this respect—that our nation never had any childhood, our day never had any dawn; so we have very little traditionary lore to work over.
We came home about five o'clock, and had some company in the evening. Some time to-day I had a little chat with Mrs. W. on the Quakers. She is a cultivated and thoughtful woman, and seemed to take quite impartial views, and did not consider her own sect as by any means the only form of Christianity, but maintained—what every sensible person must grant, I think—that it has had an important mission in society, even in its peculiarities. I inferred from her conversation that the system of plain dress, maintained with the nicety which they always use, is by no means a saving in a pecuniary point of view. She stated that one young friend, who had been brought up in this persuasion, gave it as her reason for not adopting its peculiar dress, that she could not afford it; that is to say, that for a given sum of money she could make a more creditable appearance were she allowed the range of form, shape, and trimming, which the ordinary style of dressing permits.
I think almost any lady, who knows the magical value of bits of trimming, and bows of ribbon judiciously adjusted in critical locations, of inserting, edging, and embroidery, considered as economic arts, must acknowledge that there is some force in the young lady's opinion. Nevertheless the Doric simplicity of a Quaker lady's dress, who is in circumstances to choose her material, has a peculiar charm. As at present advised, the Quaker ladies whom I have seen very judiciously adhere to the spirit of plain attire, without troubling themselves to maintain the exact letter. For instance, a plain straw cottage, with its white satin ribbon, is sometimes allowed to take the place of the close silk bonnet of Fox's day.
For my part, while I reverence the pious and unworldly spirit which dictated the peculiar forms of the Quaker sect, I look for a higher development of religion still, when all the beautiful artistic faculties of the soul being wholly sanctified and offered up to God, we shall no longer shun beauty in any of its forms, either in dress or household adornment, as a temptation, but rather offer it up as a sacrifice to Him who has set us the example, by making every thing beautiful in its season.
As to art and letters, I find many of my Quaker friends sympathizing in those judicious views which were taken by the society of Friends in Philadelphia, when Benjamin West developed a talent for painting, regarding such talent as an indication of the will of Him who had bestowed it. So I find many of them taking pleasure in the poetry of Scott, Longfellow, and Whittier, as developments of his wisdom who gives to the human soul its different faculties and inspirations.
More delightful society than a cultivated Quaker family cannot be found: the truthfulness, genuineness, and simplicity of character, albeit not wanting, at proper times, a shrewd dash of worldly wisdom, are very refreshing.
Mrs. W. and I went to the studio of Hervey, the Scotch artist. Both he and his wife received us with great kindness. I saw there his Covenanters celebrating the Lord's Supper—a picture which I could not look at critically on account of the tears which kept blinding my eyes. It represents a bleak hollow of a mountain side, where a few trembling old men and women, a few young girls and children, with one or two young men, are grouped together, in that moment of hushed prayerful repose which precedes the breaking of the sacramental bread. There is something touching always about that worn, weary look of rest and comfort with which a sick child lies down on a mother's bosom, and like this is the expression with which these hunted fugitives nestle themselves beneath the shadow of their Redeemer; mothers who had seen their sons "tortured, not accepting deliverance"—wives who had seen the blood of their husbands poured out on their doorstone—children with no father but God—and bereaved old men, from whom, every child had been rent—all gathering for comfort round the cross of a suffering Lord. In such hours they found strength to suffer, and to say to every allurement of worldly sense and pleasure as the drowning Margaret Wilson said to the tempters in her hour of martyrdom, "I am Christ's child—let me go."
Another most touching picture of Hervey's commemorates a later scene of Scottish devotion and martyr endurance scarcely below that of the days of the Covenant. It is called Leaving the Manse.
We in America all felt to our heart's core a sympathy with that high endurance which led so many Scottish ministers to forsake their churches, their salaries, the happy homes where their children were born and their days passed, rather than violate a principle.
This picture is a monument of this struggle. There rises the manse overgrown with its flowering vines, the image of a lovely, peaceful home. The minister's wife, a pale, lovely creature, is just locking the door, out of which her husband and family have passed—leaving it forever. The husband and father is supporting on his arm an aged, feeble mother, and the weeping children are gathering sorrowfully round him, each bearing away some memorial of their home; one has the bird cage. But the unequalled look of high, unshaken patience, of heroic faith, and love which seems to spread its light over every face, is what I cannot paint. The painter told me that the faces were portraits, and the scene by no means imaginary.
But did not these sacrifices bring with them, even in their bitterness, a joy the world knoweth not? Yes, they did. I know it full well, not vainly did Christ say, There is no man that hath left houses or lands for my sake and the gospel's but he shall receive manifold more in this life.
Mr. Hervey kindly gave me the engraving of his Covenanters' Sacrament, which I shall keep as a memento of him and of Scotland.
His style of painting is forcible and individual. He showed us the studies that he has taken with his palette and brushes out on the mountains and moors of Scotland, painting moss, and stone, and brook, just as it is. This is the way to be a national painter.
One pleasant evening, not long before we left Edinburgh, C., S., and I walked out for a quiet stroll. We went through the Grass Market, where so many defenders of the Covenant have suffered, and turned into the churchyard of the Gray Friars; a gray, old Gothic building, with multitudes of graves around it. Here we saw the tombs of Allan Ramsay and many other distinguished characters. The grim, uncouth sculpture on the old graves, and the quaint epitaphs, interested me much; but I was most moved by coming quite unexpectedly on an ivy-grown slab, in the wall, commemorating the martyrs of the Covenant. The inscription struck me so much, that I got C—— to copy it in his memorandum book.
"Halt, passenger! take heed what you do see. Here lies interred the dust of those who stood 'Gainst perjury, resisting unto blood, Adhering to the Covenant, and laws Establishing the same; which was the cause Their lives were sacrificed unto the last Of prelatists abjured, though here their dust Lies mixed with murderers and other crew Whom justice justly did to death pursue; But as for them, no cause was to be found Worthy of death, but only they were found Constant and steadfast, witnessing For the prerogatives of Christ their King; Which truths were sealed, by famous Guthrie's head, And all along to Mr. Renwick's blood They did endure the wrath of enemies, Reproaches, torments, deaths, and injuries; But yet they're those who from such troubles came And triumph now in glory with the Lamb.
"From May 27, 1681, when the Marquis of Argyle was beheaded, to February 17, 1688, when James Renwick suffered, there were some eighteen thousand one way or other murdered, of whom were executed at Edinburgh about one hundred noblemen, ministers, and gentlemen, and others, noble martyrs for Christ."
Despite the roughness of the verse, there is a thrilling power in these lines. People in gilded houses, on silken couches, at ease among books, and friends, and literary pastimes, may sneer at the Covenanters; it is much easier to sneer than to die for truth and right, as they died. Whether they were right in all respects is nothing to the purpose; but it is to the purpose that in a crisis of their country's history they upheld a great principle vital to her existence. Had not these men held up the heart of Scotland, and kept alive the fire of liberty on her altars, the very literature which has been used to defame them could not have had its existence. The very literary celebrity of Scotland has grown out of their grave; for a vigorous and original literature is impossible, except to a strong, free, self-respecting people. The literature of a people must spring from the sense of its nationality; and nationality is impossible without self-respect, and self-respect is impossible without liberty.
It is one of the trials of our mortal state, one of the disciplines of our virtue, that the world's benefactors and reformers are so often without form or comeliness. The very force necessary to sustain the conflict makes them appear unlovely; they "tread the wine press alone, and of the people there is none with them." The shrieks, and groans, and agonies of men wrestling in mortal combat are often not graceful or gracious; but the comments that the children of the Puritans, and the children of the Covenanters, make on the ungraceful and severe elements which marked the struggles of their great fathers, are as ill-timed as if a son, whom a mother had just borne from a burning dwelling, should criticize the shrieks with which she sought him, and point out to ridicule the dishevelled hair and singed garments which show how she struggled for his life. But these are they which are "sown in weakness, but raised in power; which are sown in dishonor, but raised in glory:" even in this world they will have their judgment day, and their names which went down in the dust like a gallant banner trodden in the mire, shall rise again all glorious in the sight of nations.
The evening sky, glowing red, threw out the bold outline of the castle, and the quaint old edifices as they seemed to look down on us silently from their rocky heights, and the figure of Salisbury Crags marked itself against the red sky like a couchant lion.
The time of our sojourn in Scotland had drawn towards its close. Though feeble in health, this visit to me has been full of enjoyment; full of lofty, but sad memories; full of sympathies and inspirations. I think there is no nobler land, and I pray God that the old seed here sown in blood and tears may never be rooted out of Scotland.
MY DEAR H.:—
It was a rainy, misty morning when I left my kind retreat and friends in Edinburgh. Considerate as every body had been about imposing on my time or strength, still you may well believe that I was much exhausted.
We left Edinburgh, therefore, with the determination to plunge at once into some hidden and unknown spot, where we might spend two or three days quietly by ourselves; and remembering your Sunday at Stratford-on-Avon, I proposed that we should go there. As Stratford, however, is off the railroad line we determined to accept the invitation, which was lying by us, from our friend Joseph Sturge, of Birmingham, and take sanctuary with him. So we wrote on, intrusting him with the secret, and charging him on no account to let any one know of our arrival.
Well in the rail car, we went whirling along by Preston Pans, where was fought the celebrated battle in which Colonel Gardiner was killed; by Dunbar, where Cromwell told his army to "trust in God and keep their powder dry;" through Berwick-on-the-Tweed and Newcastle-on-Tyne; by the old towers and gates of York, with its splendid cathedral; getting a view of Durham Cathedral in the distance.
The country between Berwick and Newcastle is one of the greatest manufacturing districts of England, and for smoke, smut, and gloom, Pittsburg and Wheeling bear no comparison to it. The English sky, always paler and cooler in its tints than ours, here seems to be turned into a leaden canopy; tall chimneys belch forth gloom and confusion; houses, factories, fences, even trees and grass, look grim and sooty.
It is true that people with immense wealth can live in such regions in cleanliness and elegance; but how must it be with the poor? I know of no one circumstance more unfavorable to moral purity than the necessity of being physically dirty. Our nature is so intensely symbolical, that where the outward sign of defilement becomes habitual, the inner is too apt to correspond. I am quite sure that before there can be a universal millennium, trade must be pursued in such a way as to enable the working classes to realize something of beauty and purity in the circumstances of their outward life.
I have heard there is a law before the British Parliament, whose operation is designed to purify the air of England by introducing chimneys which shall consume all the sooty particles which now float about, obscuring the air and carrying defilement with them. May that day be hastened!
At Newcastle-on-Tyne and some other places various friends came out to meet us, some of whom presented us with most splendid bouquets of hothouse flowers. This region has been the seat of some of the most zealous and efficient antislavery operations in England.
About night our cars whizzed into the depot at Birmingham; but just before we came in a difficulty was started in the company. "Mr. Sturge is to be there waiting for us, but he does not know us, and we don't know him; what is to be done?" C—— insisted that he should know him by instinct; and so after we reached the depot, we told him to sally out and try. Sure enough, in a few moments he pitched upon a cheerful, middle-aged gentleman, with a moderate but not decisive broad brim to his hat, and challenged him as Mr. Sturge; the result verified the truth that "instinct is a great matter." In a few moments our new friend and ourselves were snugly encased in a fly, trotting off as briskly as ever we could to his place at Edgbaston, nobody a whit the wiser. You do not know how snug we felt to think we had done it so nicely.
The carriage soon drove in upon a gravel walk, winding among turf, flowers, and shrubs, where we found opening to us another home as warm and kindly as the one we had just left, made doubly interesting by the idea of entire privacy and seclusion.
After retiring to our chambers to repair the ravages of travel, we united in the pleasant supper room, where the table was laid before a bright coal fire: no unimportant feature this fire, I can assure you, in a raw cloudy evening. A glass door from the supper room opened into a conservatory, brilliant with pink and yellow azalias, golden calceolarias, and a profusion of other beauties, whose names I did not know.
The side tables were strewn with books, and the ample folds of the drab curtains, let down over the windows, shut out the rain, damp, and chill. When we were gathered round the table, Mr. Sturge said that he had somewhat expected Elihu Burritt that evening, and we all hoped he would come. I must not omit to say, that the evening circle was made more attractive and agreeable in my eyes by the presence of two or three of the little people, who were blessed with the rosy cheek of English children.
Mr. Sturge is one of the most prominent and efficient of the philanthropists of modern days. An air of benignity and easy good nature veils and conceals in him the most unflinching perseverance and energy of purpose. He has for many years been a zealous advocate of the antislavery cause in England, taking up efficiently the work begun by Clarkson and Wilberforce. He, with a friend of the same denomination, made a journey at their own expense, to investigate the workings of the apprentice system, by which the act of immediate emancipation in the West Indies was for a while delayed. After his return he sustained a rigorous examination of seven days before a committee of the House of Commons, the result of which successfully demonstrated the abuses of that system, and its entire inutility for preparing either masters or servants for final emancipation. This evidence went as far as any thing to induce Parliament to declare immediate and entire emancipation.
Mr. Sturge also has been equally zealous and engaged in movements for the ignorant and perishing classes at home. At his own expense he has sustained a private Farm School for the reformation of juvenile offenders, and it has sometimes been found that boys, whom no severity and no punishment seemed to affect, have been entirely melted and subdued by the gentler measures here employed. He has also taken a very ardent and decided part in efforts for the extension of the principles of peace, being a warm friend and supporter of Elihu Burritt.
The next morning it was agreed that we should take our drive to Stratford-on-Avon. As yet this shrine of pilgrims stands a little aloof from the bustle of modern progress, and railroad cars do not run whistling and whisking with brisk officiousness by the old church and the fanciful banks of the Avon.
The country that we were to pass over was more peculiarly old English; that phase of old English which is destined soon to pass away, under the restless regenerating force of modern progress.
Our ride along was a singular commixture of an upper and under current of thought. Deep down in our hearts we were going back to English days; the cumbrous, quaint, queer, old, picturesque times; the dim, haunted times between cock-crowing and morning; those hours of national childhood, when popular ideas had the confiding credulity, the poetic vivacity, and versatile life, which distinguish children from grown people.
No one can fail to feel, in reading any of the plays of Shakspeare, that he was born in an age of credulity and marvels, and that the materials out of which his mind was woven were dyed in the grain, in the haunted springs of tradition. It would have been as absolutely impossible for even himself, had he been born in the daylight of this century, to have built those quaint, Gothic structures of imagination, and tinted them with their peculiar coloring of marvellousness and mystery, as for a modern artist to originate and execute the weird designs of an ancient cathedral. Both Gothic architecture and this perfection of Gothic poetry were the springing and efflorescence of that age, impossible to grow again. They were the forest primeval; other trees may spring in their room, trees as mighty and as fair, but not such trees.
So, as we rode along, our speculations and thoughts in the under current were back in the old world of tradition. While, on the other hand, for the upper current, we were keeping up a brisk conversation on the peace question, on the abolition of slavery, on the possibility of ignoring slave-grown produce, on Mr. Cobden and Mr. Bright, and, in fact, on all the most wide-awake topics of the present day.
One little incident occurred upon the road. As we were passing by a quaint old mansion, which stood back from the road, surrounded by a deep court, Mr. S. said to me, "There is a friend here who would like to see thee, if thou hast no objections," and went on to inform me that she was an aged woman, who had taken a deep interest in the abolition of slavery since the time of its first inception under Clarkson and Wilberforce, though now lying very low on a sick bed. Of course we all expressed our willingness to stop, and the carriage was soon driving up the gravelled walk towards the house. We were ushered into a comfortable sitting room, which looked out on beautiful grounds, where the velvet grass, tall, dark trees, and a certain quaint air of antiquity in disposition and arrangement, gave me a singular kind of pleasure; the more so, that it came to me like a dream; that the house and the people were unknown to me, and the whole affair entirely unexpected.
I was soon shown into a neat chamber, where an aged woman was lying in bed. I was very much struck and impressed by her manner of receiving me. With deep emotion and tears, she spoke of the solemnity and sacredness of the cause which had for years lain near her heart. There seemed to be something almost prophetic in the solemn strain of assurance with which she spoke of the final extinction of slavery throughout the world.
I felt both pleased and sorrowful. I felt sorrowful because I knew, if all true Christians in America had the same feelings, that men, women, and children, for whom Christ died, would no more be sold in my country on the auction block.
There have been those in America who have felt and prayed thus nobly and sincerely for the heathen in Burmah and Hindostan, and that sentiment was a beautiful and an ennobling one; but, alas! the number has been few who have felt and prayed for the heathenism, and shame of our own country; for the heathenism which sells the very members of the body of Christ as merchandise.
When we were again on the road, we were talking on the change of times in England since railroads began; and Mr. S. gave an amusing description of how the old lords used to travel in state, with their coaches and horses, when they went up once a year on a solemn pilgrimage to London, with postilions and outriders, and all the country gaping and wondering after them.
"I wonder," said one of us, "if Shakspeare were living, what he would say to our times, and what he would think of all the questions that are agitating the world now." That he did have thoughts whose roots ran far beyond the depth of the age in which he lived, is plain enough from numberless indications in his plays; but whether he would have taken any practical interest in the world's movements is a fair question. The poetic mind is not always the progressive one; it has, like moss and ivy, a need for something old to cling to and germinate upon. The artistic temperament, too, is soft and sensitive; so there are all these reasons for thinking that perhaps he would have been for keeping out of the way of the heat and dust of modern progress. It does not follow because a man has penetration to see an evil, he has energy to reform it.
Erasmus saw all that Luther saw just as clearly, but he said that he had rather never have truth at all, than contend for it with the world in such a tumult. However, on the other hand, England did, in Milton, have one poet who girt himself up to the roughest and stormiest work of reformation; so it is not quite certain, after all, that Shakspeare might not have been a reformer in our times. One thing is quite certain, that he would have said very shrewd things about all the matters that move the world now, as he certainly did about all matters that he was cognizant of in his own day.
It was a little before noon when we drove into Stratford, by which time, with our usual fatality in visiting poetic shrines, the day had melted off into a kind of drizzling mist, strongly suggestive of a downright rain. It is a common trick these English days have; the weather here seems to be possessed of a water spirit. This constant drizzle is good for ivies, and hawthorns, and ladies' complexions, as whoever travels here will observe, but it certainly is very bad for tourists.
This Stratford is a small town, of between three and four thousand inhabitants, and has in it a good many quaint old houses, and is characterized (so I thought) by an air of respectable, stand-still, and meditative repose, which, I am afraid, will entirely give way before the railroad demon, for I understand that it is soon to be connected by the Oxford, Worcester, and Wolverhampton line with all parts of the kingdom. Just think of that black little screeching imp rushing through these fields which have inspired so many fancies; how every thing poetical will fly before it! Think of such sweet snatches as these set to the tune of a railroad whistle:—
"Hark! hark! the lark at heaven's gate sings, And Phoebus 'gins to rise, His steeds to water at those springs On chaliced flowers that lies.
And winking Mary-buds begin To ope their golden eyes, With everything that pretty bid My lady sweet to rise."
"Philomel with melody sing in our sweet lullaby, Lulla, lulla, lullaby. Never harm, nor spell, nor charm, Come our lovely lady nigh."
I suppose the meadows, with their "winking Mary-buds," will be all cut up into building lots in the good times coming, and Philomel caught and put in a cage to sing to tourists at threepence a head.
We went to the White Lion, and soon had a little quiet parlor to ourselves, neatly carpeted, with a sofa drawn up to the cheerful coal fire, a good-toned piano, and in short every thing cheerful and comfortable.
At first we thought we were too tired to do any thing till after dinner; we were going to take time to rest ourselves and proceed leisurely; so, while the cloth was laying, C—— took possession of the piano, and I of the sofa, till Mr. S. came in upon us, saying, "Why, Shakspeare's house is right the next door here!" Upon that we got up, just to take a peep, and from peeping we proceeded to looking, and finally put on our things and went over seriatim. The house has recently been bought by a Shakspearian club, who have taken upon themselves the restoration and preservation of the premises.
Shakspeare's father, it seems, was a man of some position and substance in his day, being high sheriff and justice of the peace for the borough; and this house, therefore, I suppose, may be considered a specimen of the respectable class of houses in the times of Queen Elizabeth. This cut is taken from an old print, and is supposed to represent the original condition of the house.
We saw a good many old houses somewhat similar to this on the road, particularly resembling it in this manner of plastering, which shows all the timber on the outside. Parts of the house have been sold, altered, and used for various purposes; a butcher's stall having been kept in a part of it, and a tavern in another portion, being new-fronted with brick.
The object of this Shakspeare Club has been to repurchase all these parts, and restore them as nearly as possible to their primeval condition. The part of the house which is shown consists of a lower room, which is floored with flat stones very much broken. It has a wide, old-fashioned chimney on one side, and opens into a smaller room back of it. From thence you go up a rude flight of stairs to a low-studded room, with rough-plastered walls, where the poet was born.
The prints of this room, which are generally sold, allow themselves in considerable poetic license, representing it in fact as quite an elegant apartment, whereas, though it is kept scrupulously neat and clean, the air of it is ancient and rude. This is a somewhat flattered likeness. The roughly-plastered walls are so covered with names that it seemed impossible to add another. The name of almost every modern genius, names of kings, princes, dukes, are shown here; and it is really curious to see by what devices some very insignificant personages have endeavored to make their own names conspicuous in the crowd. Generally speaking the inscription books and walls of distinguished places tend to give great force to the Vulgate rendering of Ecclesiastes i. 15, "The number of fools is infinite."
To add a name in a private, modest way to walls already so crowded, is allowable; but to scrawl one's name, place of birth, and country, half across a wall, covering scores of names under it, is an operation which speaks for itself. No one would ever want to know more of a man than to see his name there and thus.
Back of this room were some small bed rooms, and what interested me much, a staircase leading up into a dark garret. I could not but fancy I saw a bright-eyed, curly-headed boy creeping up those stairs, zealous to explore the mysteries of that dark garret. There perhaps he saw the cat, with "eyne of burning coal, crouching 'fore the mouse's hole." Doubtless in this old garret were wonderful mysteries to him, curious stores of old cast-off goods and furniture, and rats, and mice, and cobwebs. I fancied the indignation of some belligerent grandmother or aunt, who finds Willie up there watching a mouse hole, with the cat, and has him down straightway, grumbling that Mary did not govern that child better.
We know nothing who this Mary was that was his mother; but one sometimes wonders where in that coarse age, when queens and ladies talked familiarly, as women would blush to talk now, and when the broad, coarse wit of the Merry Wives of Windsor was gotten up to suit the taste of a virgin queen,—one wonders, I say, when women were such and so, where he found those models of lily-like purity, women so chaste in soul and pure in language that they could not even bring their lips to utter a word of shame. Desdemona cannot even bring herself to speak the coarse word with which her husband taunts her; she cannot make herself believe that there are women in the world who could stoop-to such grossness.[L]
For my part I cannot believe that, in such an age, such deep heart-knowledge of pure womanhood could have come otherwise than by the impression on the child's soul of a mother's purity. I seem to have a vision of one of those women whom the world knows not of, silent, deep-hearted, loving, whom the coarser and more practically efficient jostle aside and underrate for their want of interest in the noisy chitchat and commonplace of the day; but who yet have a sacred power, like that of the spirit of peace, to brood with dovelike wings over the childish heart, and quicken into life the struggling, slumbering elements of a sensitive nature.
I cannot but think, in that beautiful scene, where he represents Desdemona as amazed and struck dumb with the grossness and brutality of the charges which had been thrown upon her, yet so dignified in the consciousness of her own purity, so magnanimous in the power of disinterested, forgiving love, that he was portraying no ideal excellence, but only reproducing, under fictitious and supposititious circumstances, the patience, magnanimity, and enduring love which had shone upon him in the household words and ways of his mother.
It seemed to me that in that bare and lowly chamber I saw a vision of a lovely face which was the first beauty that dawned on those childish eyes, and heard that voice whose lullaby tuned his ear to an exquisite sense of cadence and rhythm. I fancied that, while she thus serenely shone upon, him like a benignant star, some rigorous grand-aunt took upon her the practical part of his guidance, chased up his wanderings to the right and left, scolded him for wanting to look out of the window because his little climbing toes left their mark on the neat wall, or rigorously arrested him when his curly head was seen bobbing off at the bottom of the street, following a bird, or a dog, or a showman; intercepting him in some happy hour when he was aiming to strike off on his own account to an adjoining field for "winking Mary-buds;" made long sermons to him on the wickedness of muddying his clothes and wetting his new shoes, (if he had any,) and told him that something dreadful would come out of the graveyard and catch him if he was not a better boy, imagining that if it were not for her bustling activity Willie would go straight to destruction.
I seem, too, to have a kind of perception of Shakspeare's father; a quiet, God-fearing, thoughtful man, given to the reading of good books, avoiding quarrels with a most Christian-like fear, and with but small talent, either in the way of speech making or money getting; a man who wore his coat with an easy slouch, and who seldom knew where his money went to.
All these things I seemed to perceive as if a sort of vision had radiated from the old walls; there seemed to be the rustling of garments and the sound of voices in the deserted rooms; the pattering of feet on the worm-eaten staircase; the light of still, shady summer afternoons, a hundred years ago, seemed to fall through the casements and lie upon the floor. There was an interest to every thing about the house, even to the quaint iron fastenings about the windows; because those might have arrested that child's attention, and been dwelt on in some dreamy hour of infant thought. The fires that once burned in those old chimneys, the fleeting sparks, the curling smoke, and glowing coals, all may have inspired their fancies. There is a strong tinge of household coloring in many parts of Shakspeare, imagery that could only have come from such habits of quiet, household contemplation. See, for example, this description of the stillness of the house, after all are gone to bed at night:—
"Now sleep yslaked hath the rout; No din but snores, the house about, Made louder by the o'er-fed breast Of this most pompous marriage feast. The cat, with, eyne of burning coal, Now crouches 'fore the mouse's hole; And, crickets sing at th' oven's mouth, As the blither for their drouth."
Also this description of the midnight capers of the fairies about the house, from Midsummer Night's Dream:—
PUCK. "Now the hungry lion roars, And the wolf behowls the moon; Whilst the heavy ploughman snores, All with, weary task fordone. Now the wasted brands do glow, Whilst the scritch-owl, scritching loud, Puts the wretch, that lies in woe, In remembrance of a shroud. Now it is the time of night, That the graves all gaping wide, Every one lets forth his sprite, In the churchway paths to glide:
And we fairies that do run By the triple Hecate's team, From the presence of the sun, Following darkness like a dream, Now are frolic; not a mouse Shall disturb this hallowed house: I am sent with, broom, before, To sweep the dust behind the door.
OBE. Through this house give glimmering light, By the dead and drowsy fire: Every elf, and fairy sprite, Hop as light as bird, from brier; And this ditty after me Sing, and dance it trippingly."
By the by, one cannot but be struck with the resemblance, in the spirit and coloring of these lines, to those very similar ones in the Penseroso of Milton:—
"Far from all resort of mirth, Save the cricket on the hearth, Or the bellman's drowsy charm, To bless the doors from nightly harm; While glowing embers, through the room, Teach light to counterfeit a gloom."
I have often noticed how much the first writings of Milton resemble in their imagery and tone of coloring those of Shakspeare, particularly in the phraseology and manner of describing flowers. I think, were a certain number of passages from Lycidas and Comus interspersed with a certain number from Midsummer Night's Dream, the imagery, tone of thought, and style of coloring, would be found so nearly identical, that it would be difficult for one not perfectly familiar to distinguish them. You may try it.
That Milton read and admired Shakspeare is evident from his allusion to him in L'Allegro. It is evident, however, that Milton's taste had been so formed by the Greek models, that he was not entirely aware of all that was in Shakspeare; he speaks of him as a sweet, fanciful warbler, and it is exactly in sweetness and fancifulness that he seems to have derived benefit from him. In his earlier poems, Milton seems, like Shakspeare, to have let his mind run freely, as a brook warbles over many-colored pebbles; whereas in his great poem he built after models. Had he known as little Latin and Greek as Shakspeare, the world, instead of seeing a well-arranged imitation of the ancient epics from his pen, would have seen inaugurated a new order of poetry.
An unequalled artist, who should build after the model of a Grecian temple, would doubtless produce a splendid and effective building, because a certain originality always inheres in genius, even when copying; but far greater were it to invent an entirely new style of architecture, as different as the Gothic from the Grecian. This merit was Shakspeare's. He was a superb Gothic poet; Milton, a magnificent imitator of old forms, which by his genius were wrought almost into the energy of new productions.
I think Shakspeare is to Milton precisely what Gothic architecture is to Grecian, or rather to the warmest, most vitalized reproductions of the Grecian; there is in Milton a calm, severe majesty, a graceful and polished inflorescence of ornament, that produces, as you look upon it, a serene, long, strong ground-swell of admiration and approval. Yet there is a cold unity of expression, that calls into exercise only the very highest range of our faculties: there is none of that wreathed involution of smiles and tears, of solemn earnestness and quaint conceits; those sudden uprushings of grand and magnificent sentiment, like the flame-pointed arches of cathedrals; those ranges of fancy, half goblin, half human; those complications of dizzy magnificence with fairy lightness; those streamings of many-colored light; those carvings wherein every natural object is faithfully reproduced, yet combined into a kind of enchantment: the union of all these is in Shakspeare, and not in Milton. Milton had one most glorious phase of humanity in its perfection; Shakspeare had all united; from the "deep and dreadful" sub-bass of the organ to the most aerial warbling of its highest key, not a stop or pipe was wanting.
But, in fine, at the end of all this we went back to our hotel to dinner. After dinner we set out to see the church. Even Walter Scott has not a more poetic monument than this church, standing as it does amid old, embowering trees, on the beautiful banks of the Avon. A soft, still rain was falling on the leaves of the linden trees, as we walked up the avenue to the church. Even rainy though it was, I noticed that many little birds would occasionally break out into song. In the event of such a phenomenon as a bright day, I think there must be quite a jubilee of birds here, even as he sung who lies below:—
"The ousel-cock, so black of hue, With orange-tawny bill, The throstle with his note so true, The wren with little quill; The finch, the sparrow, and the lark, The plain-song cuckoo gray."
The church has been carefully restored inside, so that it is now in excellent preservation, and Shakspeare lies buried under a broad, flat stone in the chancel. I had full often read, and knew by heart, the inscription on this stone; but somehow, when I came and stood over it, and read it, it affected me as if there were an emanation from the grave beneath. I have often wondered at that inscription, that a mind so sensitive, that had thought so much, and expressed thought with such startling power on all the mysteries of death, the grave, and the future world, should have found nothing else to inscribe on his own grave but this:—
Good Friend for Iesus SAKE forbare To digg T-E Dust EncloAsed HERe Blese be T-E Man T spares T-Es Stones Y And curst be He T moves my Bones Y
It seems that the inscription has not been without its use, in averting what the sensitive poet most dreaded; for it is recorded in one of the books sold here, that some years ago, in digging a neighboring grave, a careless sexton broke into the side of Shakspeare's tomb, and looking in saw his bones, and could easily have carried away the skull had he not been deterred by the imprecation.
There is a monument in the side of the wall, which has a bust of Shakspeare upon it, said to be the most authentic likeness, and supposed to have been taken by a cast from his face after death. This statement was made to us by the guide who showed it, and he stated that Chantrey had come to that conclusion by a minute examination of the face. He took us into a room, where was an exact plaster cast of the bust, on which he pointed out various little minutiae on which this idea was founded. The two sides of the face are not alike; there is a falling in and depression of the muscles on one side which does not exist on the other, such as probably would never have occurred in a fancy bust, where the effort always is to render the two sides of the face as much alike as possible. There is more fulness about the lower part of the face than is consistent with the theory of an idealized bust, but is perfectly consistent with the probabilities of the time of life at which he died, and perhaps with the effects of the disease of which he died.
All this I set down as it was related to me by our guide; it had a very plausible and probable sound, and I was bent on believing, which is a great matter in faith of all kinds.
It is something in favor of the supposition that this is an authentic likeness, that it was erected in his own native town within seven years of his death, among people, therefore, who must have preserved the recollection of his personal appearance. After the manner of those times it was originally painted, the hair and beard of an auburn color, the eyes hazel, and the dress was represented as consisting of a scarlet doublet, over which was a loose black gown without sleeves; all which looks like an attempt to preserve an exact likeness. The inscription upon it, also, seemed to show that there were some in the world by no means unaware of who and what he was.
Next to the tomb of Shakspeare in the chancel is buried his favorite daughter, over whom somebody has placed the following quaint inscription:—
"Witty above her sex, but that's not all, Wise to salvation was good Mistress Hall. Something of Shakspeare was in that, but this Wholly of him, with whom she is now in bliss; Then, passenger, hast ne'er a tear, To weep with her that wept with, all— That wept, yet set herself to cheer Them, up with comfort's cordial? Her lore shall live, her mercy spread, When thou hast ne'er a tear to shed."
This good Mistress Hall, it appears, was Shakspeare's favorite among his three children. His son, Hamet, died at twelve years of age. His daughter Judith, as appears from some curious document still extant, could not write her own name, but signed with her mark; so that the "wit" of the family must have concentrated itself in Mistress Hall. To her, in his last will, which is still extant, Shakspeare bequeathed an amount of houses, lands, plate, jewels, and other valuables, sufficient to constitute quite a handsome estate. It would appear, from this, that the poet deemed her not only "wise unto salvation," but wise in her day and generation, thus intrusting her with the bulk of his worldly goods.
His wife, Ann Hathaway, is buried near by, under the same pavement. From the slight notice taken of her in the poet's will, it would appear that there was little love between them. He married her when he was but eighteen; most likely she was a mere rustic beauty, entirely incapable either of appreciating or adapting herself to that wide and wonderful mind in its full development.
As to Mistress Hall, though the estate was carefully entailed, through her, to heirs male through all generations, it was not her good fortune to become the mother of a long line, for she had only one daughter, who became Lady Barnard, and in whom, dying childless, the family became extinct. Shakspeare, like Scott, seems to have had the desire to perpetuate himself by founding a family with an estate, and the coincidence in the result is striking. Genius must be its own monument.
After we had explored the church we went out to walk about the place. We crossed the beautiful bridge over the Avon, and thought how lovely those fields and meadows would look, if they only had sunshine to set them out. Then we went to the town hall, where we met the mayor, who had kindly called and offered to show us the place.
It seems, in 1768, that Garrick set himself to work in good earnest to do honor to Shakspeare's memory, by getting up a public demonstration at Stratford; and the world, through the talents of this actor, having become alive and enthusiastic, liberal subscriptions were made by the nobility and gentry, the town hall was handsomely repaired and adorned, and a statue of Shakspeare, presented by Garrick, was placed in a niche at one end. Then all the chief men and mighty men of the nation came and testified their reverence for the poet, by having a general jubilee. A great tent was spread on the banks of the Avon, where they made speeches and drank wine, and wound up all with a great dance in the town hall; and so the manes of Shakspeare were appeased, and his position settled for all generations. The room in the town hall is a very handsome one, and has pictures of Garrick, and the other notables who figured on that occasion.
After that we were taken to see New Place. "And what is New Place?" you say; "the house where Shakspeare lived?" Not exactly; but a house built where his house was. This drawing is taken from an old print, and is supposed to represent the house as Shakspeare fitted it up.
We went out into what was Shakspeare's garden, where we were shown his mulberry—not the one that he planted though, but a veritable mulberry planted on the same spot; and then we went back to our hotel very tired, but having conscientiously performed every jot and tittle of the duty of good pilgrims.
As we sat, in the drizzly evening, over our comfortable tea table, C—— ventured to intimate pretty decidedly that he considered the whole thing a bore; whereat I thought I saw a sly twinkle around the eyes and mouth of our most Christian and patient friend, Joseph Sturge. Mr. S. laughingly told him that he thought it the greatest exercise of Christian tolerance, that he should have trailed round in the mud with us all day in our sightseeing, bearing with our unreasonable raptures. He smiled, and said, quietly, "I must confess that I was a little pleased that our friend Harriet was so zealous to see Shakspeare's house, when it wasn't his house, and so earnest to get sprigs from his mulberry, when it wasn't his mulberry." We were quite ready to allow the foolishness of the thing, and join the laugh at our own expense.
As to our bed rooms, you must know that all the apartments in this house are named after different plays of Shakspeare, the name being printed conspicuously over each door; so that the choosing of our rooms made us a little sport.
"What rooms will you have, gentlemen?" says the pretty chamber maid.
"Rooms," said Mr. S.; "why, what are there to have?"
"Well, there's Richard III., and there's Hamlet," says the girl.
"O, Hamlet, by all means," said I; "that was always my favorite. Can't sleep in Richard III., we should have such bad dreams."
"For my part," said C——, "I want All's well that ends well."
"I think," said the chamber maid, hesitating, "the bed in Hamlet isn't large enough for two. Richard III. is a very nice room, sir."
In fact, it became evident that we were foreordained to Richard; so we resolved to embrace the modern historical view of this subject, which will before long turn him out a saint, and not be afraid of the muster roll of ghosts which Shakspeare represented as infesting his apartment.
Well, for a wonder, the next morning arose a genuine sunny, beautiful day. Let the fact be recorded that such things do sometimes occur even in England. C—— was mollified, and began to recant his ill-natured heresies of the night before, and went so far as to walk, out of his own proper motion, to Ann Hathaway's Cottage before breakfast—he being one of the brethren described by Longfellow,
"Who is gifted with most miraculous powers Of getting up at all sorts of hours;"
and therefore he came in to breakfast table with that serenity of virtuous composure which generally attends those who have been out enjoying the beauties of nature while their neighbors have been ingloriously dozing.
The walk, he said, was beautiful; the cottage damp, musty, and fusty; and a supposititious old bedstead, of the age of Queen Elizabeth, which had been obtruded upon his notice because it might have belonged to Ann Hathaway's mother, received a special malediction. For my part, my relic-hunting propensities were not in the slightest degree appeased, but rather stimulated, by the investigations of the day before.
It seemed to me so singular that of such a man there should not remain one accredited relic! Of Martin Luther, though he lived much earlier, how many things remain! Of almost any distinguished character how much more is known than of Shakspeare! There is not, so far as I can discover, an authentic relic of any thing belonging to him. There are very few anecdotes of his sayings or doings; no letters, no private memoranda, that should let us into the secret of what he was personally who has in turns personated all minds. The very perfection of his dramatic talent has become an impenetrable veil: we can no more tell from his writings what were his predominant tastes and habits than we can discriminate among the variety of melodies what are the native notes of the mocking bird. The only means left us for forming an opinion of what he was personally are inferences of the most delicate nature from, the slightest premises.
The common idea which has pervaded the world, of a joyous, roving, somewhat unsettled, and dissipated character, would seem, from many well-authenticated facts, to be incorrect. The gayeties and dissipations of his life seem to have been confined to his very earliest days, and to have been the exuberance of a most extraordinary vitality, bursting into existence with such force and vivacity that it had not had time to collect itself, and so come to self-knowledge and control. By many accounts it would appear that the character he sustained in the last years of his life was that of a judicious, common-sense sort of man; a discreet, reputable, and religious householder.
The inscription on his tomb is worthy of remark, as indicating the reputation he bore at the time: "Judicio Pylium, genio Socratem, arte Maronem" (In judgment a Nestor, in genius a Socrates, in art a Virgil.)
The comparison of him in the first place to Nestor, proverbially famous for practical judgment and virtue of life, next to Socrates, who was a kind of Greek combination of Dr. Paley and Dr. Franklin, indicates a very different impression of him from what would generally be expressed of a poet, certainly what would not have been placed on the grave of an eccentric, erratic will-o'-the-wisp genius, however distinguished. Moreover, the pious author of good Mistress Hall's epitaph records the fact of her being "wise to salvation," as a more especial point of resemblance to her father than even her being "witty above her sex," and expresses most confident hope of her being with him in bliss. The Puritan tone of the epitaph, as well as the quality of the verse, gives reason to suppose that it was not written by one who was seduced into a tombstone lie by any superfluity of poetic sympathy.
The last will of Shakspeare, written by his own hand and still preserved, shows several things of the man.
The introduction is as follows:—
"In the name of God. Amen. I, William Shakspeare, at Stratford-upon-Avon, in the county of Warwick, gentleman, in perfect health and memory, (God be praised,) do make and ordain this my last will and testament in manner and form following; that is to say,—
"First, I commend my soul into the hands of God my Creator, hoping, and assuredly believing, through the only merits of Jesus Christ, my Savior, to be made partaker of life everlasting; and my body to the earth, whereof it is made."
The will then goes on to dispose of an amount of houses, lands, plate, money, jewels, &c., which showed certainly that the poet had possessed some worldly skill and thrift in accumulation, and to divide them with a care and accuracy which would indicate that he was by no means of that dreamy and unpractical habit of mind which cares not what becomes of worldly goods.
We may also infer something of a man's character from the tone and sentiments of others towards him. Glass of a certain color casts on surrounding objects a reflection of its own hue, and so the tint of a man's character returns upon us in the habitual manner in which he is spoken of by those around him. The common mode of speaking of Shakspeare always savored of endearment. "Gentle Will" is an expression that seemed oftenest repeated. Ben Jonson inscribed his funeral verses "To the Memory of my beloved Mr. William Shakspeare;" he calls him the "sweet swan of Avon." Again, in his lines under a bust of Shakspeare, he says,—
"The figure that thou seest put, It was for gentle Shakspeare cut."
In later times Milton, who could have known him only by tradition, calls him "my Shakspeare," "dear son of memory," and "sweetest Shakspeare." Now, nobody ever wrote of sweet John Milton, or gentle John Milton, or gentle Martin Luther, or even sweet Ben Jonson.
Rowe says of Shakspeare, "The latter part of his life was spent, as all men of good sense would wish theirs may be, in ease, retirement, and the conversation of his friends. His pleasurable wit and good nature engaged him in the acquaintance, and entitled him to the friendship, of the gentlemen of the neighborhood." And Dr. Drake says, "He was high in reputation as a poet, favored by the great and the accomplished, and beloved by all who knew him."
That Shakspeare had religious principle, I infer not merely from the indications of his will and tombstone, but from those strong evidences of the working of the religious element which are scattered through his plays. No man could have a clearer perception of God's authority and man's duty; no one has expressed more forcibly the strength of God's government, the spirituality of his requirements, or shown with more fearful power the struggles of the "law in the members warring against the law of the mind."
These evidences, scattered through his plays, of deep religious struggles, make probable the idea that, in the latter, thoughtful, and tranquil years of his life, devotional impulses might have settled into habits, and that the solemn language of his will, in which he professes his faith, in Christ, was not a mere form. Probably he had all his life, even in his gayest hours, more real religious principle than the hilarity of his manner would give reason to suppose. I always fancy he was thinking of himself when he wrote this character: "For the man doth fear God, howsoever it seem not in him by reason of some large jests he doth make."
Neither is there any foundation for the impression that he was undervalued in his own times. No literary man of his day had more success, more flattering attentions from the great, or reaped more of the substantial fruits of popularity, in the form of worldly goods. While his contemporary, Ben Jonson, sick in a miserable alley, is forced to beg, and receives but a wretched pittance from Charles I., Shakspeare's fortune steadily increases from year to year. He buys the best place in his native town, and fits it up with great taste; he offered to lend, on proper security, a sum of money for the use of the town of Stratford; he added to his estate in Stratford a hundred and seventy acres of land; he bought half the great and small tithes of Stratford; and his annual income is estimated to have been what would at the present time be nearly four thousand dollars.
Queen Elizabeth also patronized him after her ordinary fashion of patronizing literary men,—that is to say, she expressed her gracious pleasure that he should burn incense to her, and pay his own bills: economy was not one of the least of the royal graces. The Earl of Southampton patronized him in a more material fashion.
Queen Elizabeth even so far condescended to the poet as to perform certain hoidenish tricks while he was playing on the stage, to see if she could not disconcert his speaking by the majesty of her royal presence. The poet, who was performing the part of King Henry IV., took no notice of her motions, till, in order to bring him to a crisis, she dropped her glove at his feet; whereat he picked it up, and presented it her, improvising these two lines, as if they had been a part of the play:—
"And though, now bent on this high embassy, Yet stoop we to take up our cousin's glove."
I think this anecdote very characteristic of them both; it seems to me it shows that the poet did not so absolutely crawl in the dust before her, as did almost all the so called men of her court; though he did certainly flatter her after a fashion in which few queens can be flattered. His description of the belligerent old Gorgon as the "Fair Vestal throned by the West" seems like the poetry and fancy of the beautiful Fairy Queen wasted upon the half-brute clown:—
"Come, sit thee down upon this flowery bed, While I thy amiable cheeks do coy, And stick musk roses in thy sleek, smooth, head, And kiss thy fair, large ears, my gentle joy."
Elizabeth's understanding and appreciation of Shakspeare was much after the fashion of Nick Bottom's of the Fairy Queen. I cannot but believe that the men of genius who employed their powers in celebrating this most repulsive and disagreeable woman must sometimes have comforted themselves by a good laugh in private.
In order to appreciate Shakspeare's mind from his plays, we must discriminate what expressed the gross tastes of his age, and what he wrote to please himself. The Merry Wives of Windsor was a specimen of what he wrote for the "Fair Vestal;" a commentary on the delicacy of her maiden meditations. The Midsummer Night's Dream he wrote from his own inner dream world.
In the morning we took leave of our hotel. In leaving we were much touched with the simple kindliness of the people of the house. The landlady and her daughters came to bid us farewell, with much feeling; and the former begged my acceptance of a bead purse, knit by one of her daughters, she said, during the winter evenings while they were reading Uncle Tom. In this town one finds the simple-hearted, kindly English people corresponding to the same class which we see in our retired New England towns. We received many marks of kindness from different residents in Stratford; in the expression of them, they appreciated and entered into our desire for privacy with a delicacy which touched us sensibly.
We had little time to look about us to see Stratford in the sunshine. So we went over to a place on the banks of the Avon, where, it was said, we could gain a very perfect view of the church. The remembrance of this spot is to me like a very pleasant dream. The day was bright, the air was soft and still, as we walked up and down the alleys of a beautiful garden that extended quite to the church; the rooks were dreamily cawing, and wheeling in dark, airy circles round the old buttresses and spire. A funeral train had come into the graveyard, and the passing bell was tolling. A thousand undefined emotions struggled in my mind.
That loving heart, that active fancy, that subtile, elastic power of appreciating and expressing all phases, all passions of humanity, are they breathed out on the wind? are they spent like the lightning? are they exhaled like the breath of flowers? or are they still living, still active? and if so, where and how? Is it reserved for us, in that "undiscovered country" which he spoke of, ever to meet the great souls whose breath has kindled our souls?
I think we forget the consequences of our own belief in immortality, and look on the ranks of prostrate dead as a mower on fields of prostrate flowers, forgetting that activity is an essential of souls, and that every soul which has passed away from this world must ever since have been actively developing those habits of mind and modes of feeling which it began here.
The haughty, cruel, selfish Elizabeth, and all the great men of her court, are still living and acting somewhere; but where? For my part I am often reminded, when dwelling on departed genius, of Luther's ejaculation for his favorite classic poet: "I hope God will have mercy on such."
We speak of the glory of God as exhibited in natural landscape making; what is it, compared with the glory of God as shown in the making of souls, especially those souls which seem to be endowed with a creative power like his own?
There seems, strictly speaking, to be only two classes of souls—the creative and the receptive. Now, these creators seem to me to have a beauty and a worth about them entirely independent of their moral character. That ethereal power which shows itself in Greek sculpture and Gothic architecture, in Rubens, Shakspeare, and Mozart, has a quality to me inexpressibly admirable and lovable. We may say, it is true, that there is no moral excellence in it; but none the less do we admire it. God has made us so that we cannot help loving it; our souls go forth to it with an infinite longing, nor can that longing be condemned. That mystic quality that exists in these souls is a glimpse and intimation of what exists in Him in full perfection. If we remember this we shall not lose ourselves in admiration of worldly genius, but be led by it to a better understanding of what He is, of whom all the glories of poetry and art are but symbols and shadows.
From Stratford we drove to Warwick, (or "Warrick," as they call it here.) This town stands on a rocky hill on the banks of the Avon, and is quite a considerable place, for it returns two members to Parliament, and has upwards of ten thousand inhabitants; and also has some famous manufactories of wool combing and spinning. But what we came to see was the castle. We drove up to the Warwick Arms, which is the principal hotel in the place; and, finding that we were within the hours appointed for exhibition, we went immediately.
With my head in a kind of historical mist, full of images of York and Lancaster, and Red and White Roses, and Warwick the king maker, I looked up to the towers and battlements of the old castle. We went in through a passage way cut in solid rock, about twenty feet deep, and I should think fifty long. These walls were entirely covered with ivy, hanging down like green streamers; gentle and peaceable pennons these are, waving and whispering that the old war times are gone.
At the end of this passage there is a drawbridge over what was formerly the moat, but which is now grassed and planted with shrubbery. Up over our heads we saw the great iron teeth of the portcullis. A rusty old giant it seemed up there, like Pope and Pagan in Pilgrim's Progress, finding no scope for himself in these peaceable times.
When we came fairly into the court yard of the castle, a scene of magnificent beauty opened before us. I cannot describe it minutely. The principal features are the battlements, towers, and turrets of the old feudal castle, encompassed by grounds on which has been expended all that princely art of landscape gardening for which England is famous—leafy thickets, magnificent trees, openings, and vistas of verdure, and wide sweeps of grass, short, thick, and vividly green, as the velvet moss we sometimes see growing on rocks in New England. Grass is an art and a science in England—it is an institution. The pains that are taken in sowing, tending, cutting, clipping, rolling, and otherwise nursing and coaxing it, being seconded by the misty breath and often falling tears of the climate, produce results which must be seen to be appreciated.
So again of trees in England. Trees here are an order of nobility; and they wear their crowns right kingly. A few years ago, when Miss Sedgwick was in this country, while admiring some splendid trees in a nobleman's park, a lady standing by said to her encouragingly, "O, well, I suppose your trees in America will be grown up after a while!" Since that time another style of thinking of America has come up, and the remark that I most generally hear made is, "O, I suppose we cannot think of showing you any thing in the way of trees, coming as you do from America!" Throwing out of account, however, the gigantic growth of our western river bottoms, where I have seen sycamore trunks twenty feet in diameter—leaving out of account, I say, all this mammoth arboria, these English parks have trees as fine and as effective, of their kind, as any of ours; and when I say their trees are an order of nobility, I mean that they pay a reverence to them such as their magnificence deserves. Such elms as adorn the streets of New Haven, or overarch the meadows of Andover, would in England be considered as of a value which no money could represent; no pains, no expense would be spared to preserve their life and health; they would never be shot dead by having gas pipes laid under them, as they have been in some of our New England towns; or suffered to be devoured by canker worms for want of any amount of money spent in their defence.
Some of the finest trees in this place are magnificent cedars of Lebanon, which bring to mind the expression in Psalms, "Excellent as the cedars." They are the very impersonation of kingly majesty, and are fitted to grace the old feudal stronghold of Warwick the king maker. These trees, standing as they do amid magnificent sweeps and undulations of lawn, throwing out their mighty arms with such majestic breadth and freedom of outline, are themselves a living, growing, historical epic. Their seed was brought from Holy Land in the old days of the crusades; and a hundred legends might be made up of the time, date, and occasion of their planting. These crusades have left their mark every where through Europe, from the cross panel on the doors of common houses to the oriental touches and arabesques of castles and cathedrals.
In the reign of Stephen there was a certain Roger de Newburg, second Earl of Warwick, who appears to have been an exceedingly active and public-spirited character; and, besides conquering part of Wales, founded in this neighborhood various priories and hospitals, among which was the house of the Templars, and a hospital for lepers. He made several pilgrimages to Holy Land; and so I think it as likely as most theories that he ought to have the credit of these cedars.
These Earls of Warwick appear always to have been remarkably stirring men in their day and generation, and foremost in whatever was going on in the world, whether political or religious. To begin, there was Guy, Earl of Warwick, who lived somewhere in the times of the old dispensation, before King Arthur, and who distinguished himself, according to the fashion of those days, by killing giants and various colored dragons, among which a green one especially figures. It appears that he slew also a notable dun cow, of a kind of mastodon breed, which prevailed in those early days, which was making great havoc in the neighborhood. In later times, when the giants, dragons, and other animals of that sort were somewhat brought under, we find the Earls of Warwick equally busy burning and slaying to the right and left; now crusading into Palestine, and now fighting the French, who were a standing resort for activity when nothing else was to be done; with great versatility diversifying these affairs with pilgrimages to the holy sepulchre, and founding monasteries and hospitals. One stout earl, after going to Palestine and laying about him like a very dragon for some years, brought home a live Saracen king to London, and had him baptized and made a Christian of, vi et armis.
During the scuffle of the Roses, it was a Warwick, of course, who was uppermost. Stout old Richard, the king maker, set up first one party and then the other, according to his own sovereign pleasure, and showed as much talent at fighting on both sides, and keeping the country in an uproar, as the modern politicians of America.
When the times of the Long Parliament and the Commonwealth came, an Earl of Warwick was high admiral of England, and fought valiantly for the Commonwealth, using the navy on the popular side; and his grandson married the youngest daughter of Oliver Cromwell. When the royal family was to be restored, an Earl of Warwick was one of the six lords who were sent to Holland for Charles II. The earls of this family have been no less distinguished for movements which have favored the advance of civilization and letters than for energy in the battle field. In the reign of Queen Elizabeth an Earl of Warwick founded the History Lecture at Cambridge, and left a salary for the professor. This same earl was general patron of letters and arts, assisting many men of talents, and was a particular and intimate friend of Sir Philip Sidney.
What more especially concerns us as New Englanders is, that an earl of this house was the powerful patron and protector of New England during the earlier years of our country. This was Robert Greville, the high admiral of England before alluded to, and ever looked upon as a protector of the Puritans. Frequent allusion is made to him in Winthrop's Journal as performing various good offices for them.
The first grant of Connecticut was made to this earl, and by him assigned to Lord Say and Seal, and Lord Brooke. The patronage which this earl extended to the Puritans is more remarkable because in principle he was favorable to Episcopacy. It appears to have been prompted by a chivalrous sense of justice; probably the same which influenced old Guy of Warwick in the King Arthur times, of whom the ancient chronicler says, "This worshipful knight, in his acts of warre, ever consydered what parties had wronge, and therto would he drawe."
The present earl has never taken a share in public or political life, but resided entirely on his estate, devoting himself to the improvement of his ground and tenants. He received the estate much embarrassed, and the condition of the tenantry was at that time quite depressed. By the devotion of his life it has been rendered one of the most flourishing and prosperous estates in this part of England. I have heard him spoken of as a very exemplary, excellent man. He is now quite advanced, and has been for some time in failing health. He sent our party a very kind and obliging message, desiring that we would consider ourselves fully at liberty to visit any part of the grounds or castle, there being always some reservation as to what tourists may visit.
We caught glimpses of him once or twice, supported by attendants, as he was taking the air in one of the walks of the grounds, and afterwards wheeled about in a garden chair.
The family has thrice died out in the direct line, and been obliged to resuscitate through collateral branches; but it seems the blood holds good notwithstanding. As to honors there is scarcely a possible distinction in the state or army that has not at one time or other been the property of this family.
Under the shade of these lofty cedars they have sprung and fallen, an hereditary line of princes. One cannot but feel, in looking on these majestic trees, with the battlements, turrets, and towers of the old castle every where surrounding him, and the magnificent parks and lawns opening through dreamy vistas of trees into what seems immeasurable distance, the force of the soliloquy which Shakspeare puts into the mouth of the dying old king maker, as he lies breathing out his soul in the dust and blood of the battle field:—
"Thus yields the cedar to the axe's edge, Whose arms gave shelter to the princely eagle, Under whose shade the rampant lion slept; Whose top branch overpeered Jove's spreading tree, And kept low shrubs from, winter's powerful wind. These eyes, that now are dimmed with death's black veil, Have been as piercing as the midday sun To search, the secret treasons of the world: The wrinkles in my brow, now filled with blood, Were likened oft to kingly sepulchres; For who lived king but I could dig his grave? And who durst smile when Warwick bent his brow? Lo, now my glory smeared in dust and blood! My parks, my walks, my manors that I had, Even now forsake me; and of all my lands Is nothing left me but my body's length! Why, what is pomp, rule, reign, but earth and dust? And live we how we can, yet die we must."
During Shakspeare's life Warwick was in the possession of Greville, the friend of Sir Philip Sidney, and patron of arts and letters. It is not, therefore, improbable that Shakspeare might, in his times, often have been admitted to wander through the magnificent grounds, and it is more than probable that the sight of these majestic cedars might have suggested the noble image in this soliloquy. It is only about eight miles from Stratford, within the fair limits of a comfortable pedestrian excursion, and certainly could not but have been an object of deep interest to such a mind as his.
I have described the grounds first, but, in fact, we did not look at them first, but went into the house where we saw not only all the state rooms, but, through the kindness of the noble proprietor, many of those which are not commonly exhibited; a bewildering display of magnificent apartments, pictures, gems, vases, arms and armor, antiques, all, in short, that the wealth of a princely and powerful family had for centuries been accumulating.
The great hall of the castle is sixty-two feet in length and forty in breadth, ornamented with a richly carved Gothic roof, in which figures largely the family cognizance of the bear and ragged staff. There is a succession of shields, on which are emblazoned the quarterings of successive Earls of Warwick. The sides of the wall are ornamented with lances, corselets, shields, helmets, and complete suits of armor, regularly arranged as in an armory. Here I learned what the buff coat is, which had so often puzzled me in reading Scott's descriptions, as there were several hanging up here. It seemed to be a loose doublet of chamois leather, which was worn under the armor, and protected the body from its harshness.
Here we saw the helmet of Cromwell, a most venerable relic. Before the great, cavernous fireplace was piled up on a sled a quantity of yew tree wood. The rude simplicity of thus arranging it on the polished floor of this magnificent apartment struck me as quite singular. I suppose it is a continuation of some ancient custom.
Opening from this apartment on either side are suits of rooms, the whole series being three hundred and thirty-three feet in length. These rooms are all hung with pictures, and studded with antiques and curiosities of immense value. There is, first, the red drawing room, and then the cedar drawing room, then the gilt drawing room, the state bed room, the boudoir, &c., &c., hung with pictures by Vandyke, Rubens, Guido, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Paul Veronese, any one of which would require days of study; of course, the casual glance that one could give them in a rapid survey would not amount to much.
We were shown one table of gems and lapis lazuli, which cost what would be reckoned a comfortable fortune in New England. For matters of this kind I have little sympathy. The canvas, made vivid by the soul of an inspired artist, tells me something of God's power in creating that soul; but a table of gems is in no wise interesting to me, except so far as it is pretty in itself.
I walked to one of the windows of these lordly apartments, and while the company were examining buhl cabinets, and all other deliciousness of the place, I looked down the old gray walls into the amber waters of the Avon, which flows at their base, and thought that the most beautiful of all was without. There is a tiny fall that crosses the river just above here, whose waters turn the wheels of an old mossy mill, where for centuries the family grain has been ground. The river winds away through the beautiful parks and undulating foliage, its soft, grassy banks dotted here and there with sheep and cattle, and you catch farewell gleams and glitters of it as it loses itself among the trees.
Gray moss, wall flowers, ivy, and grass were growing here and there out of crevices in the castle walls, as I looked down, sometimes trailing their rippling tendrils in the river. This vegetative propensity of walls is one of the chief graces of these old buildings.
In the state bed room were a bed and furnishings of rich, crimson velvet, once belonging to Queen Anne, and presented by George III. to the Warwick family. The walls are hung with Brussels tapestry, representing the gardens of Versailles as they were at the time. The chimney-piece, which is sculptured of verde antique and white marble, supports two black marble vases on its mantel. Over the mantel-piece is a full-length portrait of Queen Anne, in a rich brocade dress, wearing the collar and jewels of the Garter, bearing in one hand a sceptre, and in the other a globe. There are two splendid buhl cabinets in the room, and a table of costly stone from Italy; it is mounted on a richly carved and gilt stand.
The boudoir, which adjoins, is hung with pea-green satin and velvet. In this room is one of the most authentic portraits of Henry VIII., by Holbein, in which that selfish, brutal, unfeeling tyrant is veritably set forth, with all the gold and gems which, in his day, blinded mankind; his fat, white hands were beautifully painted. Men have found out Henry VIII. by this time; he is a dead sinner, and nothing more is to be expected of him, and so he gets a just award; but the disposition which bows down and worships any thing of any character in our day which is splendid and successful, and excuses all moral delinquencies, if they are only available, is not a whit better than that which cringed before Henry.
In the same room was a boar hunt, by Rubens, a disagreeable subject, but wrought with wonderful power. There were several other pictures of Holbein's in this room; one of Martin Luther.
We passed through a long corridor, whose sides were lined with pictures, statues, busts, &c. Out of the multitude, three particularly interested me; one was a noble but melancholy bust of the Black Prince, beautifully chiselled in white marble; another was a plaster cast, said to have been taken of the face of Oliver Cromwell immediately after death. The face had a homely strength amounting almost to coarseness. The evidences of its genuineness appear in glancing at it; every thing is authentic, even to the wart on his lip; no one would have imagined such a one, but the expression was noble and peaceful, bringing to mind the oft-quoted words,—
"After life's fitful fever, he sleeps well."
At the end of the same corridor is a splendid picture of Charles I. on horseback, by Vandyke, a most masterly performance, and appearing in its position almost like a reality. Poor Charles had rather hard measure, it always seemed to me. He simply did as all other princes had done before him; that is to say, he lied steadily, invariably, and conscientiously, in every instance where he thought he could gain any thing by it, just as Charles V., and Francis IV., and Catharine de Medicis, and Henry VIII., and Elizabeth, and James, and all good royal folks had always done; and lo! he must lose his head for it. His was altogether a more gentlemanly and respectable performance than that of Henry, not wanting in a sort of ideal magnificence, which his brutal predecessor, or even his shambling old father never dreamed of. But so it is; it is not always on those who are sinners above all men that the tower of Siloam falls, but only on those who happen to be under it when its time comes. So I intend to cherish a little partiality for gentlemanly, magnificent Charles I.; and certainly one could get no more splendid idea of him than by seeing him stately, silent, and melancholy on his white horse, at the end of this long corridor. There he sits, facing the calm, stony, sleeping face of Oliver, and neither question or reply passes between them.