The Marquis of Lansdowne now entered. He is about the middle height, with gray hair, blue eyes, and a mild, quiet dignity of manner. He is one of those who, as Lord Henry Pettes, took a distinguished part with Clarkson and Wilberforce in the abolition of the slave trade. He has always been a most munificent patron of literature and art.
There were present, also, Lord John Russell, Mr. Gladstone, and Lord Grenville. The latter we all thought very strikingly resembled in his appearance the poet Longfellow. My making the remark introduced the subject of his poetry. The Duchess of Argyle appealed to her two little boys, who stood each side of her, if they remembered her reading Evangeline to them. It is a gratification to me that I find by every English fireside traces of one of our American poets. These two little boys of the Duchess of Argyle, and the youngest son of the Duchess of Sutherland, were beautiful fair-haired children, picturesquely attired in the Highland costume. There were some other charming children of the family circle present. The eldest son of the Duke of Argyle bears the title of the Lord of Lorn, which Scott has rendered so poetical a sound to our ears.
When lunch was announced, the Duke of Sutherland gave me his arm, and led me through a suite of rooms into the dining hall. Each room that we passed was rich in its pictures, statues, and artistic arrangements; a poetic eye and taste had evidently presided over all. The table was beautifully laid, ornamented by two magnificent epergnes, crystal vases supported by wrought silver standards, filled with the most brilliant hothouse flowers; on the edges of the vases and nestling among the flowers were silver doves of the size of life. The walls of the room were hung with gorgeous pictures, and directly opposite to me was a portrait of the Duchess of Sutherland, by Sir Thomas Lawrence, which has figured largely in our souvenirs and books of beauty. She is represented with a little child in her arms; this child, now Lady Blantyre, was sitting opposite to me at table, with a charming little girl of her own, of about the same apparent age. When one sees such things, one almost fancies this to be a fairy palace, where the cold demons of age and time have lost their power.
I was seated next to Lord Lansdowne, who conversed much with me about affairs in America. It seems to me that the great men of the old world regard our country thoughtfully. It is a new development of society, acting every day with greater and greater power on the old world; nor is it yet clearly seen what its final results will be. His observations indicated a calm, clear, thoughtful mind—an accurate observer of life and history.
Meanwhile the servants moved noiselessly to and fro, taking up the various articles on the table, and offering them to the guests in a peculiarly quiet manner. One of the dishes brought to me was a plover's nest, precisely as the plover made it, with five little blue speckled eggs in it. This mode of serving plover's eggs, as I understand it, is one of the fashions of-the day, and has something quite sylvan and picturesque about it; but it looked so, for all the world, like a robin's nest that I used to watch out in our home orchard, that I had it not in my heart to profane the sanctity of the image by eating one of the eggs.
The cuisine of these West End regions appears to be entirely under French legislation, conducted by Parisian artists, skilled in all subtle and metaphysical combinations of ethereal possibilities, quite inscrutable to the eye of sense. Her grace's chef, I have heard it said elsewhere, bears the reputation of being the first artist of his class in England. The profession as thus sublimated bears the same proportion to the old substantial English cookery that Mozart's music does to Handel's, or Midsummer Night's Dream to Paradise Lost.
This meal, called lunch, is with the English quite an institution, being apparently a less elaborate and ceremonious dinner. Every thing is placed upon the table at once, and ladies sit down without removing their bonnets; it is, I imagine, the most social and family meal of the day; one in which children are admitted to the table, even in the presence of company. It generally takes place in the middle of the day, and the dinner, which comes after it, at eight or nine in the evening, is in comparison only a ceremonial proceeding.
I could not help thinking, as I looked around on so many men whom I had heard of historically all my life, how very much less they bear the marks of age than men who have been connected a similar length of time with the movements of our country. This appearance of youthfulness and alertness has a constantly deceptive influence upon one in England. I cannot realize that people are as old as history states them to be. In the present company there were men of sixty or seventy, whom I should have pronounced at the first glance to be fifty.
Generally speaking our working minds seem to wear out their bodies faster; perhaps because our climate is more stimulating; more, perhaps, from the intenser stimulus of our political regime, which never leaves any thing long at rest.
The tone of manners in this distinguished circle did not obtrude itself upon my mind as different from that of highly-educated people in our own country. It appeared simple, friendly, natural, and sincere. They talked like people who thought of what they were saying, rather than how to say it. The practice of thorough culture and good breeding is substantially the same through the world, though smaller conventionalities may differ.
After lunch the whole party ascended to the picture gallery, passing on our way the grand staircase and hall, said to be the most magnificent in Europe. All that wealth could command of artistic knowledge and skill has been expended here to produce a superb result. It fills the entire centre of the building, extending up to the roof and surmounted by a splendid dome. On three sides a gallery runs round it supported by pillars. To this gallery you ascend on the fourth side by a staircase, which midway has a broad, flat landing, from which stairs ascend, on the right and left, into the gallery. The whole hall and staircase, carpeted with a scarlet footcloth, give a broad, rich mass of coloring, throwing out finely the statuary and gilded balustrades. On the landing is a marble statue of a Sibyl, by Rinaldi. The walls are adorned by gorgeous frescos from Paul Veronese. What is peculiar in the arrangements of this hall is, that although so extensive, it still wears an air of warm homelikeness and comfort, as if it might be a delightful place to lounge and enjoy life, amid the ottomans, sofas, pictures, and statuary, which are disposed here and there throughout.
All this, however, I passed rapidly by as I ascended the staircase, and passed onward to the picture gallery. This was a room about a hundred feet long by forty wide, surmounted by a dome gorgeously finished with golden palm, trees and carving. This hall is lighted in the evening by a row of gaslights placed outside the ground glass of the dome; this light is concentrated and thrown down by strong reflectors, communicating thus the most brilliant radiance without the usual heat of gas. This gallery is peculiarly rich in paintings of the Spanish school. Among them are two superb Murillos, taken from convents by Marshal Soult, during the time of his career in Spain.
There was a painting by Paul de la Roche of the Earl of Strafford led forth to execution, engravings of which we have seen in the print shops in America. It is a strong and striking picture, and has great dramatic effect. But there was a painting in one corner by a Flemish artist, whose name I do not now remember, representing Christ under examination before Caiaphas. It was a candle-light scene, and only two faces were very distinct; the downcast, calm, resolute face of Christ, in which was written a perfect knowledge of his approaching doom, and the eager, perturbed vehemence of the high priest, who was interrogating him. On the frame was engraved the lines,—
"He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement of our peace was upon him, And with his stripes we are healed."
The presence of this picture here in the midst of this scene was very affecting to me.
The company now began to assemble and throng the gallery, and very soon the vast room was crowded. Among the throng I remember many presentations, but of course must have forgotten many more. Archbishop Whately was there, with Mrs. and Miss Whately; Macaulay, with two of his sisters; Milman, the poet and historian; the Bishop of Oxford, Chevalier Bunsen and lady, and many more.
When all the company were together Lord Shaftesbury read a very short, kind, and considerate address in behalf of the ladies of England, expressive of their cordial welcome. The address will be seen in the Morning Advertiser, which I send you. The company remained a while after this, walking through the rooms and conversing in different groups, and I talked with several. Archbishop Whately, I thought, seemed rather inclined to be jocose: he seems to me like some of our American divines; a man who pays little attention to forms, and does not value them. There is a kind of brusque humor in his address, a downright heartiness, which reminds one of western character. If he had been born in our latitude, in Kentucky or Wisconsin, the natives would have called him Whately, and said he was a real steamboat on an argument. This is not precisely the kind of man we look for in an archbishop. One sees traces of this humor in his Historic Doubts concerning the Existence of Napoleon. I conversed with some who knew him intimately, and they said that he delighted in puns and odd turns of language.
I was also introduced to the Bishop of Oxford, who is a son of Wilberforce. He is a short man, of very youthful appearance, with bland, graceful, courteous manners. He is much admired as a speaker. I heard him spoken of as one of the most popular preachers of the day.
I must not forget to say that many ladies of the society of Friends were here, and one came and put on to my arm a reticule, in which, she said, were carried about the very first antislavery tracts ever distributed in England. At that time the subject of antislavery was as unpopular in England as it can be at this day any where in the world, and I trust that a day will come when the subject will be as popular in South Carolina as it is now in England. People always glory in the right after they have done it.
After a while the company dispersed over the house to look at the rooms. There are all sorts of parlors and reception rooms, furnished with the same correct taste. Each room had its predominant color; among them blue was a particular favorite.
The carpets were all of those small figures I have described, the blue ones being of the same pattern with the green. The idea, I suppose, is to produce a mass of color of a certain tone, and not to distract the eye with the complicated pattern. Where so many objects of art and virtu are to be exhibited, without this care in regulating and simplifying the ground tints, there would be no unity in the impression. This was my philosophizing on the matter, and if it is not the reason why it is done, it ought to be. It is as good a theory as most theories, at any rate.
Before we went away I made a little call on the Lady Constance Grosvenor, and saw the future Marquis of Westminster, heir to the largest estate in England. His beautiful mother is celebrated in the annals of the court journal as one of the handsomest ladies in England. His little lordship was presented to me in all the dignity of long, embroidered clothes, being then, I believe, not quite a fortnight old, and I can assure you that he demeaned himself with a gravity becoming his rank and expectations.
There is a more than common interest attached to these children by one who watches the present state of the world. On the character and education of the princes and nobility of this generation the future history of England must greatly depend.
This Stafford House meeting, in any view of it, is a most remarkable fact. Kind and gratifying as its arrangements have been to me, I am far from appropriating it to myself individually, as a personal honor. I rather regard it as the most public expression possible of the feelings of the women of England on one of the most important questions of our day—that, of individual liberty considered in its religious bearings.
The most splendid of England's palaces has this day opened its doors to the slave. Its treasures of wealth and of art, its prestige of high name and historic memories, have been consecrated to the acknowledgment of Christianity in that form, wherein, in our day, it is most frequently denied—the recognition of the brotherhood of the human family, and the equal religious value of every human soul. A fair and noble hand by this meeting has fixed, in the most public manner, an ineffaceable seal to the beautiful sentiments of that most Christian document, the letter of the ladies of Great Britain to the ladies of America. That letter and this public attestation of it are now historic facts, which wait their time and the judgment of advancing Christianity.
Concerning that letter I have one or two things to say. Nothing can be more false than the insinuation that has been thrown out in some American papers, that it was a political movement. It had its first origin in the deep religious feelings of the man whose whole life has been devoted to the abolition of the white-labor slavery of Great Britain; the man whose eye explored the darkness of the collieries, and counted the weary steps of the cotton spinners—who penetrated the dens where the insane were tortured with darkness, and cold, and stripes; and threaded the loathsome alleys of London, haunts of fever and cholera: this man it was, whose heart was overwhelmed by the tale of American slavery, and who could find no relief from, this distress except in raising some voice to the ear of Christianity. Fearful of the jealousy of political interference, Lord Shaftesbury published an address to the ladies of England, in which he told them that he felt himself moved by an irresistible impulse to entreat them to raise their voice, in the name of a common Christianity and womanhood, to their American sisters. The abuse which has fallen upon him for this most Christian proceeding does not in the least surprise him, because it is of the kind that has always met him in every benevolent movement. When in the Parliament of England he was pleading for women in the collieries who were harnessed like beasts of burden, and made to draw heavy loads through miry and dark passages, and for children who were taken at three years old to labor where the sun never shines, he was met with determined and furious opposition and obloquy—accused of being a disorganizer, and of wishing to restore the dark ages. Very similar accusations have attended all his efforts for the laboring classes during the long course of seventeen years, which resulted at last in the triumphant passage of the factory bill.
We in America ought to remember that the gentle remonstrance of the letter of the ladies of England contains, in the mildest form, the sentiments of universal Christendom. Rebukes much more pointed are coming back to us even from, our own missionaries. A day is coming when, past all the temporary currents of worldly excitement, we shall, each of us, stand alone face to face with the perfect purity of our Redeemer. The thought of such a final interview ought certainly to modify all our judgments now, that we may strive to approve only what we shall then approve.
MY DEAR C.:—
As to those ridiculous stories about the Duchess of Sutherland, which have found their way into many of the prints in America, one has only to be here, moving in society, to see how excessively absurd they are.
All my way through Scotland, and through England, I was associating, from day to day, with people of every religious denomination, and every rank of life. I have been with, dissenters and with churchmen; with the national Presbyterian church and the free Presbyterian; with Quakers and Baptists.
In all these circles I have heard the great and noble of the land freely spoken of and canvassed, and if there had been the least shadow of a foundation for any such accusations, I certainly should have heard it recognized in some manner. If in no other, such warm friends as I have heard speak would have alluded to the subject in the way of defence; but I have actually never heard any allusion of any sort, as if there was any thing to be explained or accounted for.
As I have before intimated, the Howard family, to which the duchess belongs, is one which has always been on the side of popular rights and popular reform. Lord Carlisle, her brother, has been a leader of the people, particularly during the time of the corn-law reformation, and she has been known to take a wide and generous interest in all these subjects. Every where that I have moved through Scotland and England I have heard her kindness of heart, her affability of manner, and her attention to the feelings of others spoken of as marked characteristics.
Imagine, then, what people must think when they find in respectable American prints the absurd story of her turning her tenants out into the snow, and ordering the cottages to be set on fire over their heads because they would not go out.
But, if you ask how such an absurd story could ever have been made up, whether there is the least foundation to make it on, I answer, that it is the exaggerated report of a movement made by the present Duke of Sutherland's father, in the year 1811, and which was part of a great movement that passed through, the Highlands of Scotland, when the advancing progress of civilization began to make it necessary to change the estates from military to agricultural establishments.
Soon after the union of the crowns of England and Scotland, the border chiefs found it profitable to adopt upon their estates that system, of agriculture to which their hills were adapted, rather than to continue the maintenance of military retainers. Instead of keeping garrisons, with small armies, in a district, they decided to keep only so many as could profitably cultivate the land. The effect of this, of course, was like disbanding an army. It threw many people out of employ, and forced them to seek for a home elsewhere. Like many other movements which, in their final results, are beneficial to society, this was at first vehemently resisted, and had to be carried into effect in some cases by force. As I have said, it began first in the southern counties of Scotland, soon after the union of the English and Scottish crowns, and gradually crept northward—one county after another yielding to the change. To a certain extent, as it progressed northward, the demand for labor in the great towns absorbed the surplus population; but when it came into the extreme Highlands, this refuge was wanting. Emigration to America now became the resource; and the surplus population were induced to this by means such as the Colonization Society now recommends and approves for promoting emigration to Liberia.
The first farm that was so formed on the Sutherland estate was in 1806. The great change was made in 1811-12, and completed in 1819-20.
The Sutherland estates are in the most northern portion of Scotland. The distance of this district from the more advanced parts of the kingdom, the total want of roads, the unfrequent communication by sea, and the want of towns, made it necessary to adopt a different course in regard to the location of the Sutherland population from that which circumstances had provided in other parts of Scotland, where they had been removed from the bleak and uncultivable mountains. They had lots given them near the sea, or in more fertile spots, where, by labor and industry, they might maintain themselves. They had two years allowed them for preparing for the change, without payment of rent. Timber for their houses was given, and many other facilities for assisting their change.
The general agent of the Sutherland estate is Mr. Loch. In a speech of this gentleman in the House of Commons, on the second reading of the Scotch poor-law bill, June 12, 1845, he states the following fact with regard to the management of the Sutherland estate during this period, from 1811 to 1833, which certainly can speak for itself: "I can state as from fact that, from 1811 to 1833, not one sixpence of rent has been received from that county, but, on the contrary, there has been sent there, for the benefit and improvement of the people, a sum exceeding sixty thousand pounds."
Mr. Loch goes on in the same speech to say, "There is no set of people more industrious than the people of Sutherland. Thirty years since they were engaged in illegal distillation to a very great extent; at the present moment there is not, I believe, an illegal still in the county. Their morals have improved as those habits have been abandoned; and they have added many hundreds, I believe thousands, of acres to the land in cultivation since they were placed upon the shore.
"Previous to that change to which I have referred, they exported very few cattle, and hardly any thing else. They were, also, every now and then, exposed to all the difficulties of extreme famine. In the years 1812-13, and 1816-17, so great was the misery that it was necessary to send down oatmeal for their supply to the amount of nine thousand pounds, and that was given to the people. But, since industrious habits were introduced, and they were settled within reach of fishing, no such calamity has overtaken them. Their condition was then so low that they were obliged to bleed their cattle, during the winter, and mix the blood with the remnant of meal they had, in order to save them from starvation.
"Since then the country has improved so much that the fish, in particular, which they exported, in 1815, from one village alone, Helmsdale, (which, previous to 1811, did not exist,) amounted to five thousand three hundred and eighteen barrels of herring, and in 1844 thirty-seven thousand five hundred and ninety-four barrels, giving employment to about three thousand nine hundred people. This extends over the whole of the county, in which fifty-six thousand barrels were cured.
"Do not let me be supposed to say that there are not cases requiring attention: it must be so in a large population; but there can be no means taken by a landlord, or by those under him, that are not bestowed upon that tenantry.
"It has been said that the contribution by the heritor (the duke) to one kirk session for the poor was but six pounds. Now, in the eight parishes which are called Sutherland proper, the amount of the contribution of the Duke of Sutherland to the kirk session is forty-two pounds a year. That is a very small sum but that sum merely is so given because the landlord thinks that he can distribute his charity in a more beneficial manner to the people; and the amount of charity which he gives—and which, I may say, is settled on them, for it is given regularly—is above four hundred and fifty pounds a year.
"Therefore the statements that have been made, so far from being correct, are in every way an exaggeration of what is the fact. No portion of the kingdom has advanced in prosperity so much; and if the honorable member (Mr. S. Crawford) will go down there, I will give him every facility for seeing the state of the people, and he shall judge with his own eyes whether my representation be not correct. I could go through a great many other particulars, but I will not trouble the house now with them. The statements I have made are accurate, and I am quite ready to prove them in any way that is necessary."
This same Mr. Loch has published a pamphlet, in which he has traced out the effects of the system pursued on the Sutherland estate, in many very important particulars. It appears from this that previously to 1811 the people were generally sub-tenants to middle men, who exacted high rents, and also various perquisites, such as the delivery of poultry and eggs, giving so many days' labor in harvest time, cutting and carrying peat and stones for building.
Since 1811 the people have become immediate tenants, at a greatly diminished rate of rent, and released from all these exactions. For instance, in two parishes, in 1812, the rents were one thousand five hundred and ninety-three pounds, and in 1823 they were only nine hundred and seventy-two pounds. In another parish the reduction of rents has amounted, on an average, to thirty-six per cent. Previous to 1811 the houses were turf huts of the poorest description, in many instances the cattle being kept under the same roof with the family. Since 1811 a large proportion, of their houses have been rebuilt in a superior manner—the landlord having paid them for their old timber where it could not be moved, and having also contributed the new timber, with lime.
Before 1811 all the rents of the estates were used for the personal profit of the landlord; but since that time, both by the present duke and his father, all the rents have been expended on improvements in the county, besides sixty thousand pounds more which have been remitted from. England for the purpose. This money has been spent on churches, school houses, harbors, public inns, roads, and bridges.
In 1811 there was not a carriage road in the county, and only two bridges. Since that time four hundred and thirty miles of road have been constructed on the estate, at the expense of the proprietor and tenants. There is not a turnpike gate in the county, and yet the roads are kept perfect.
Before 1811 the mail was conveyed entirely by a foot runner, and there was but one post office in the county; and there was no direct post across the county, but letters to the north and west were forwarded once a month. A mail coach has since been established, to which the late Duke of Sutherland contributed more than two thousand six hundred pounds; and since 1834 mail gigs have been established to convey letters to the north and west coast, towards which the Duke of Sutherland contributes three hundred pounds a year. There are thirteen post offices and sub-offices in the county. Before 1811 there was no inn in the county fit for the reception of strangers. Since that time there have been fourteen inns either built or enlarged by the duke.
Before 1811 there was scarcely a cart on the estate; all the carriage was done on the backs of ponies. The cultivation of the interior was generally executed with a rude kind of spade, and there was not a gig in the county. In 1845 there were one thousand one hundred and thirty carts owned on the estate, and seven hundred and eight ploughs, also forty-one gigs.
Before 1812 there was no baker, and only two shops. In 1845 there were eight bakers and forty-six grocer's shops, in nearly all of which shoe blacking was sold to some extent, an unmistakable evidence of advancing civilization.
In 1808 the cultivation of the coast side of Sutherland was so defective that it was necessary often, in a fall of snow, to cut down the young Scotch firs to feed the cattle on; and in 1808 hay had to be imported. Now the coast side of Sutherland exhibits an extensive district of land cultivated according to the best principles of modern agriculture; several thousand acres have been added to the arable land by these improvements.
Before 1811 there were no woodlands of any extent on the estate, and timber had to be obtained from a distance. Since that time many thousand acres of woodland have been planted, the thinnings of which, being sold to the people at a moderate rate, have greatly increased their comfort and improved their domestic arrangements.
Before 1811 there were only two blacksmiths in the county. In 1845 there were forty-two blacksmiths and sixty-three carpenters. Before 1829 the exports of the county consisted of black cattle of an inferior description, pickled salmon, and some ponies; but these were precarious sources of profit, as many died in winter for want of food; for example, in the spring of 1807 two hundred cows, five hundred cattle, and more than two hundred ponies died in the parish of Kildonan alone. Since that time the measures pursued by the Duke of Sutherland, in introducing improved breeds of cattle, pigs, and modes of agriculture, have produced results in exports which tell their own story. About forty thousand sheep and one hundred and eighty thousand fleeces of wool are exported annually; also fifty thousand barrels of herring.
The whole fishing village of Helmsdale has been built since that time. It now contains from thirteen to fifteen curing yards covered with slate, and several streets with houses similarly built. The herring fishery, which has been mentioned as so productive, has been established since the change, and affords employment to three thousand nine hundred people.
Since 1811, also, a savings bank has been established in every parish, of which the Duke of Sutherland is patron and treasurer, and the savings have been very considerable.
The education of the children of the people has been a subject of deep interest to the Duke of Sutherland. Besides the parochial schools, (which answer, I suppose, to our district schools,) of which the greater number have been rebuilt or repaired at an expense exceeding what is legally required for such purposes, the Duke of Sutherland contributes to the support of several schools for young females, at which sewing and other branches of education are taught; and in 1844 he agreed to establish twelve general assembly schools in such parts of the county as were without the sphere of the parochial schools, and to build school and schoolmasters' houses, which will, upon an average, cost two hundred pounds each; and to contribute annually two hundred pounds in aid of salaries to the teachers, besides a garden and cows' grass; and in 1845 he made an arrangement with the education committee of the Free church, whereby no child, of whatever persuasion, will be beyond the reach of moral and religious education.
There are five medical gentlemen on the estate, three of whom receive allowances from the Duke of Sutherland for attendance on the poor in the districts in which they reside.
An agricultural association, or farmers' club, has been formed under the patronage of the Duke of Sutherland, of which the other proprietors in the county, and the larger tenantry, are members, which is in a very active and flourishing state. They have recently invited Professor Johnston to visit Sutherland, and give lectures on agricultural chemistry.
The total population of the Sutherland estate is twenty-one thousand seven hundred and eighty-four. To have the charge and care of so large an estate, of course, must require very systematic arrangements; but a talent for system seems to be rather the forte of the English.
The estate is first divided into three districts, and each district is under the superintendence of a factor, who communicates with the duke through a general agent. Besides this, when the duke is on the estate, which is during a portion of every year, he receives on Monday whoever of his tenants wishes to see him. Their complaints or wishes are presented in writing; he takes them into consideration, and gives written replies.
Besides the three factors there is a ground officer, or sub-factor, in every parish, and an agriculturist in the Dunrobin district, who gives particular attention to instructing the people in the best methods of farming. The factors, the ground officers, and the agriculturists all work to one common end. They teach the advantages of draining; of ploughing deep, and forming their ridges in straight lines; of constructing tanks for saving liquid manure. The young farmers also pick up a great deal of knowledge when working as ploughmen or laborers on the more immediate grounds of the estate.
The head agent, Mr. Loch, has been kind enough to put into my hands a general report of the condition of the estate, which he drew up for the inspection of the duke, May 12, 1853, and in which he goes minutely over the condition of every part of the estate.
One anecdote of the former Duke of Sutherland will show the spirit which has influenced the family in their management of the estate. In 1817, when there was much suffering on account of bad seasons, the Duke of Sutherland sent down his chief agent to look into the condition of the people, who desired the ministers of the parishes to send in their lists of the poor. To his surprise it was found that there were located on the estate a number of people who had settled there without leave. They amounted to four hundred and eight families, or two thousand persons; and though they had no legal title to remain where they were, no hesitation was shown in supplying them with food in the same manner with those who were tenants, on the sole condition that on the first opportunity they should take cottages on the sea shore, and become industrious people. It was the constant object of the duke to keep the rents of his poorer tenants at a nominal amount.
What led me more particularly to inquire into these facts was, that I received by mail, while in London, an account containing some of these stories, which had been industriously circulated in America. There were dreadful accounts of cruelties practised in the process of inducing the tenants to change their places of residence. The following is a specimen of these stories:—
"I was present at the pulling down and burning of the house of William Chisholm, Badinloskin, in which was lying his wife's mother, an old, bed-ridden woman of near one hundred years of age, none of the family being present. I informed the persons about to set fire to the house of this circumstance, and prevailed on them to wait till Mr. Sellar came. On his arrival I told him of the poor old woman being in a condition unfit for removal. He replied, 'Damn her, the old witch, she has lived too long; let her burn.' Fire was immediately set to the house, and the blankets in which she was carried were in flames before she could be got out. She was placed in a little shed, and it was with great difficulty they were prevented from firing that also. The old woman's daughter arrived while the house was on fire, and assisted the neighbors in removing her mother out of the flames and smoke, presenting a picture of horror which I shall never forget, but cannot attempt to describe. She died within five days."
With regard to this story Mr. Loch, the agent, says, "I must notice the only thing like a fact stated in the newspaper extract which you sent to me, wherein Mr. Sellar is accused of acts of cruelty towards some of the people. This Mr. Sellar tested, by bringing an action against the then sheriff substitute of the county. He obtained a verdict for heavy damages. The sheriff, by whom, the slander was propagated, left the county. Both are since dead."
Having, through Lord Shaftesbury's kindness, received the benefit of Mr. Loch's corrections to this statement, I am permitted to make a little further extract from his reply. He says,—
"In addition to what I was able to say in my former paper, I can now state that the Duke of Sutherland has received, from, one of the most determined opposers of the measure, who travelled to the north of Scotland as editor of a newspaper, a letter regretting all he had written on the subject, being convinced that he was entirely misinformed. As you take so much interest in the subject, I will conclude by saying that nothing could exceed the prosperity of the county during the past year; their stock, sheep, and other things sold at high prices; their crops of grain and turnips were never so good, and the potatoes were free from all disease; rents have been paid better than was ever known. * * * As an instance of the improved habits of the farmers, no house is now built for them that they do not require a hot bath and water closets."
From this long epitome you can gather the following results; first, if the system were a bad one, the Duchess of Sutherland had nothing to do with it, since it was first introduced in 1806, the same year her grace was born; and the accusation against Mr. Sellar dates in 1811, when her grace was five or six years old. The Sutherland arrangements were completed in 1819, and her grace was not married to the duke till 1823, so that, had the arrangement been the worst in the world, it is nothing to the purpose so far as she is concerned.
As to whether the arrangement is a bad one, the facts which have been stated speak for themselves. To my view it is an almost sublime instance of the benevolent employment of superior wealth and power in shortening the struggles of advancing civilization, and elevating in a few years a whole community to a point of education and material prosperity, which, unassisted, they might never have obtained,
LONDON, Sunday, May 8.
MY DEAR S.:—
Mr. S. is very unwell, in bed, worn out with, the threefold labor of making and receiving calls, visiting, and delivering public addresses. C. went to hear Dr. McNeile, of Liverpool, preach—one of the leading men of the established church evangelical party, a strong millenarian. C. said that he was as fine a looking person in canonicals as he ever saw in the pulpit. In doctrine he is what we in America should call very strong old school. I went, as I had always predetermined to do, if ever I came to London, to hear Baptist Noel, drawn thither by the melody and memory of those beautiful hymns of his[N], which must meet a response in every Christian heart. He is tall and well formed, with one of the most classical and harmonious heads I ever saw. Singularly enough, he reminded me of a bust of Achilles at the London Museum. He is indeed a swift-footed Achilles, but in another race, another warfare. Born of a noble family, naturally endowed with sensitiveness and ideality to appreciate all the amenities and suavities of that brilliant sphere, the sacrifice must have been inconceivably great for him to renounce favor and preferment, position in society,—which, here in England, means more than Americans can ever dream of,—to descend from being a court chaplain, to become a preacher in a Baptist dissenting chapel. Whatever may be thought of the correctness of the intellectual conclusions which led him to such a step, no one can fail to revere the strength and purity of principle which could prompt to such sacrifices. Many, perhaps, might have preferred that he should have chosen a less decided course. But if his judgment really led to these results, I see no way in which it was possible for him to have avoided it. It was with an emotion of reverence that I contrasted the bareness, plainness, and poverty of the little chapel with that evident air of elegance and cultivation which appeared in all that he said and did. The sermon was on the text, "Now abideth faith, hope, and charity, these three." Naturally enough, the subject divided itself into faith, hope, and charity.
His style calm, flowing, and perfectly harmonious, his delivery serene and graceful, the whole flowed over one like a calm and clear strain of music. It was a sermon after the style of Tholuck and other German sermonizers, who seem to hold that the purpose of preaching is not to rouse the soul by an antagonistic struggle with sin through the reason, but to soothe the passions, quiet the will, and bring the mind into a frame in which it shall incline to follow its own convictions of duty. They take for granted, that the reason why men sin is not because they are ignorant, but because they are distracted and tempted by passion; that they do not need so much to be told what is their duty, as persuaded to do it. To me, brought up on the very battle field of controversial theology, accustomed to hear every religious idea guarded by definitions, and thoroughly hammered on a logical anvil before the preacher thought of making any use of it for heart or conscience, though I enjoyed the discourse extremely, I could not help wondering what an American theological professor would make of such a sermon.
To preach on faith, hope, and charity all in one discourse—why, we should have six sermons on the nature of faith to begin with: on speculative faith; saving faith; practical faith, and the faith of miracles; then we should have the laws of faith, and the connection of faith with evidence, and the nature of evidence, and the different kinds of evidence, and so on. For my part I have had a suspicion since I have been here, that a touch of this kind of thing might improve English preaching; as, also, I do think that sermons of the kind I have described would be useful, by way of alterative, among us. If I could have but one of the two manners, I should prefer our own, because I think that this habit of preaching is one of the strongest educational forces that forms the mind of our country.
After the service was over I went into the vestry, and was introduced to Mr. Noel. The congregation of the established church, to which he ministered during his connection with it, are still warmly attached to him. His leaving them was a dreadful trial; some of them can scarcely mention his name without tears. C. says, with regard to the church singing, as far as he heard it, it is twenty years behind that in Boston. In the afternoon I staid at home to nurse Mr. S. A note from Lady John Russell inviting us there.
Monday, May 9. I should tell you that at the Duchess of Sutherland's an artist, named Burnard, presented me with a very fine cameo head of Wilberforce, cut from a statue in Westminster Abbey. He is from Cornwall, in the south of England, and has attained some celebrity as an artist. He wanted to take a bust of me; and though it always makes me laugh to think of having a new likeness, considering the melancholy results of all former enterprises, yet still I find myself easy to be entreated, in hopes, as Mr. Micawber says, that something may "turn up," though I fear the difficulty is radical in the subject. So I made an appointment with Mr. Burnard, and my very kind friend, Mr. B., in addition to all the other confusions I have occasioned in his mansion, consented to have his study turned into a studio. Upon the heels of this comes another sculptor, who has a bust begun, which he says is going to be finished in Parian, and published whether I sit for it or not, though, of course, he would much prefer to get a look at me now and then. Well, Mr. B. says he may come, too; so there you may imagine me in the study, perched upon a very high stool, dividing my glances between the two sculptors, one of whom, is taking one side of my face, and one the other.
To-day I went with Mr. and Mrs. B. to hear the examination of a borough-school for boys. Mrs. B. told me it was not precisely a charity school, but one where the means of education were furnished at so cheap a rate, that the poorest classes could enjoy them. Arrived at the hall, we found quite a number of distingues, bishops, lords, and clergy, besides numbers of others assembled to hear. The room was hung round with the drawings of the boys, and specimens of handwriting. I was quite astonished at some of them. They were executed by pen, pencil, or crayon—drawings of machinery, landscapes, heads, groups, and flowers, all in a style which any parent among us would be proud to exhibit, if done by our own children. The boys looked very bright and intelligent, and I was delighted with the system, of instruction which had evidently been pursued with them. We heard them first in the reading and recitation of poetry; after that in arithmetic and algebra, then in natural philosophy, and last, and most satisfactorily, in the Bible. It was perfectly evident from the nature of the questions and answers, that it was not a crammed examination, and that the readiness of reply proceeded not from a mere commitment of words, but from a system of intellectual training, which led to a good understanding of the subject. In arithmetic and algebra the answers were so remarkable as to induce the belief in some that the boys must have been privately prepared on their questions; but the teacher desired Lord John Russell to write down any number of questions which he wished to have given to the toys to solve, from his own mind. Lord John wrote down two or three problems, and I was amused at the zeal and avidity with which the boys seized upon and mastered them. Young England was evidently wide awake, and the prime minister himself was not to catch them, napping. The little fellows' eyes-glistened as they rattled off their solutions. As I know nothing about mathematics, I was all the more impressed; but when they came to be examined in the Bible, I was more astonished than ever. The masters had said that they would be willing any of the gentlemen should question them, and Mr. B. commenced a course of questions on the doctrines of Christianity; asking, Is there any text by which you can prove this, or that? and immediately, with great accuracy, the boys would cite text upon text, quoting not only the more obvious ones, but sometimes applying Scripture with an ingenuity and force which I had not thought of, and always quoting chapter and verse of every text. I do not know who is at the head of this teaching, nor how far it is a sample of English schools; but I know that these boys had been wonderfully well taught, and I felt all my old professional enthusiasm arising.
After the examination Lord John came forward, and gave the boys a good fatherly talk. He told them that they had the happiness to live under a free government, where all offices are alike open to industry and merit, and where any boy might hope by application and talent to rise to any station below that of the sovereign. He made some sensible, practical comments, on their Scripture lessons, and, in short, gave precisely such a kind of address as one of our New England judges or governors might to schoolboys in similar circumstances. Lord John hesitates a little in his delivery, but has a plain, common-sense way of "speaking right on," which seems to be taking. He is a very simple man in his manners, apparently not at all self-conscious, and entered into the feelings of the boys and the masters with good-natured sympathy, which was very winning. I should think he was one of the kind of men who are always perfectly easy and self-possessed let what will come, and who never could be placed in a situation in which he did not feel himself quite at home, and perfectly competent to do whatever was to be done.
To-day the Duchess of Sutherland called with the Duchess of Argyle. Miss Greenfield happened to be present, and I begged leave to present her, giving a slight sketch of her history. I was pleased with the kind and easy affability with which the Duchess of Sutherland conversed with her, betraying by no inflection of voice, and nothing in air or manner, the great lady talking with the poor girl. She asked all her questions with as much delicacy, and made her request to hear her sing with as much consideration and politeness, as if she had been addressing any one in her own circle. She seemed much pleased with her singing, and remarked that she should be happy to give her an opportunity of performing in Stafford House, so soon as she should be a little relieved of a heavy cold which seemed to oppress her at present. This, of course, will be decisive in her favor in London. The duchess is to let us know when the arrangement is completed.
I never realized so much that there really is no natural prejudice against color in the human mind. Miss Greenfield is a dark mulattress, of a pleasing and gentle face, though by no means handsome. She is short and thick set, with a chest of great amplitude, as one would think on hearing her tenor. I have never seen in any of the persons to whom I have presented her the least indications of suppressed surprise or disgust, any more than we should exhibit on the reception of a dark-complexioned Spaniard or Portuguese. Miss Greenfield bears her success with much quietness and good sense.
Tuesday, May 10. C. and I were to go to-day, with Mrs. Cropper and Lady Hatherton, to call on the poet Rogers. I was told that he was in very delicate health, but that he still received friends at his house. We found the house a perfect cabinet collection of the most rare and costly works of art—choicest marbles, vases, pictures, gems, and statuary met the eye every where. We spent the time in examining some of these while the servant went to announce us. The mild and venerable old man himself was the choicest picture of all. He has a splendid head, a benign face, and reminded me of an engraving I once saw of Titian. He seemed very glad to see us, spoke to me of the gathering at Stafford House, and asked me what I thought of the place. When I expressed my admiration, he said, "Ah, I have often said it is a fairy palace, and that the duchess is the good fairy." Again, he said, "I have seen all the palaces of Europe, but there is none that I prefer to this." Quite a large circle of friends now came in and were presented. He did not rise to receive them, but sat back in his easy chair, and conversed quietly with us all, sparkling out now and then in a little ripple of playfulness. In this room were his best beloved pictures, and it is his pleasure to show them to his friends.
By a contrivance quite new to me, the pictures are made to revolve on a pivot, so that by touching a spring they move out from the wall, and can be seen in different lights. There was a picture over the mantel-piece of a Roman Triumphal Procession, painted by Rubens, which attracted my attention by its rich coloring and spirited representation of animals.
The coloring of Rubens always satisfies my eye better than that of any other master, only a sort of want of grace in the conception disturbs me. In this case both conception and coloring are replete with beauty. Rogers seems to be carefully waited on by an attendant who has learned to interpret every motion and anticipate every desire.
I took leave of him with a touch of sadness. Of all the brilliant circle of poets, which has so delighted us, he is the last—and he so feeble! His memories, I am told, extend back to a personal knowledge of Dr. Johnson. How I should like to sit by him, and search into that cabinet of recollections! He presented me his poems, beautifully illustrated by Turner, with his own autograph on the fly leaf. He writes still a clear, firm, beautiful hand, like a lady's.
After that, we all went over to Stafford House, and the Duke and Duchess of Sutherland went with us into Lord Ellesmere's collection adjoining. Lord Ellesmere sails for America to-day, to be present at the opening of the Crystal Palace. He left us a very polite message. The Duchess of Argyle, with her two little boys, was there also. Lord Carlisle very soon came in, and with him—who do you think? Tell Hattie and Eliza if they could have seen the noble staghound that came bounding in with him, they would have turned from all the pictures on the wall to this living work of art.
Landseer thinks he does well when he paints a dog; another man chisels one in stone: what would they think of themselves if they could string the nerves and muscles, and wake up the affections and instincts, of the real, living creature? That were to be an artist indeed! The dog walked about the gallery, much at home, putting his nose up first to one and then another of the distinguished persons by whom he was surrounded; and once in a while stopping, in an easy race about the hall, would plant himself before a picture, with his head on one side, and an air of high-bred approval, much as I have seen young gentlemen do in similar circumstances. All he wanted was an eyeglass, and he would have been perfectly set up as a critic.
As for the pictures, I have purposely delayed coming to them. Imagine a botanist dropped into the middle of a blooming prairie, waving with unnumbered dyes and forms of flowers, and only an hour to examine and make acquaintance with them! Room, after room we passed, filled with Titians, Murillos, Guidos, &c. There were four Raphaels, the first I had ever seen. Must I confess the truth? Raphael had been my dream for years. I expected something which would overcome and bewilder me. I expected a divine baptism, a celestial mesmerism; and I found four very beautiful pictures—pictures which left me quite in possession of my senses, and at liberty to ask myself, am I pleased, and how much? It was not that I did not admire, for I did; but that I did not admire enough. The pictures are all holy families, cabinet size: the figures, Mary, Joseph, the infant Jesus, and John, in various attitudes. A little perverse imp in my heart suggested the questions, "If a modern artist had painted these, what would be thought of them? If I did not know it was Raphael, what should I think?" And I confess that, in that case, I should think that there was in one or two of them a certain hardness and sharpness of outline that was not pleasing to me. Neither, any more than Murillo, has he in these pictures shadowed forth, to my eye, the idea of Mary. Protestant as I am, no Catholic picture contents me. I thought to myself that I had seen among living women, and in a face not far off, a nobler and sweeter idea of womanhood.
It is too much to ask of any earthly artist, however, to gratify the aspirations and cravings of those who have dreamed of them for years unsatisfied. Perhaps no earthly canvas and brash can accomplish this marvel. I think the idealist must lay aside his highest ideal, and be satisfied he shall never meet it, and then he will begin to enjoy. With this mood and understanding I did enjoy very much an Assumption of the Virgin, by Guido, and more especially Diana and her Nymphs, by Titian: in this were that softness of outline, and that blending of light and shadow into each other, of which I felt the want in the Raphaels. I felt as if there was a perfection of cultivated art in this, a classical elegance, which, so far as it went, left the eye or mind nothing to desire. It seemed to me that Titian was a Greek painter, the painter of an etherealized sensuousness, which leaves the spiritual nature wholly unmoved, and therefore all that he attempts he attains. Raphael, on the contrary, has spiritualism; his works enter a sphere where at is more difficult to satisfy the soul; nay, perhaps from the nature of the case, impossible.
There were some glorious pieces of sunshine by Cuyp. There was a massive sea piece by Turner, in which the strong solemn swell of the green waves, and the misty wreathings of clouds, were powerfully given.
There was a highly dramatic piece, by Paul de la Roche, representing Charles I. in a guard room, insulted by the soldiery. He sits, pale, calm, and resolute, while they are puffing tobacco smoke in his face, and passing vulgar jokes. His thoughts appear to be far away, his eyes looking beyond them with an air of patient, proud weariness.
Independently of the pleasure one receives from particular pictures in these galleries, there is a general exaltation, apart from, critical considerations, an excitement of the nerves, a kind of dreamy state, which is a gain in our experience. Often in a landscape we first single out particular objects,—this old oak,—that cascade,—that ruin,—and derive from them, an individual joy; then relapsing, we view the landscape as a whole, and seem, to be surrounded by a kind of atmosphere of thought, the result of the combined influence of all. This state, too, I think is not without its influence in educating the aesthetic sense.
Even in pictures which we comparatively reject, because we see them, in the presence of superior ones, there is a wealth of beauty which would grow on us from day to day, could we see them, often. When I give a sigh to the thought that in our country we are of necessity, to a great extent, shut from the world of art, I then rejoice in the inspiriting thought that Nature is ever the superior. No tree painting can compare with a splendid elm, in the plenitude of its majesty. There are colorings beyond those of Rubens poured forth around us in every autumn scene; there are Murillos smiling by our household firesides; and as for Madonnas and Venuses, I think with Byron,—
"I've seen more splendid women, ripe and real, Than all the nonsense of their stone ideal."
Still, I long for the full advent of our American, day of art, already dawning auspiciously.
After finishing our inspection, we went back to Stafford House to lunch.
In the evening we went to Lord John Russell's. We found Lady Russell and her daughters sitting quietly around the evening lamp, quite by themselves. She is elegant and interesting in her personal appearance, and has the same charm of simplicity and sincerity of manner which we have found in so marry of the upper sphere. She is the daughter of the Earl of Minto, and the second wife of Lord John. We passed here an entirely quiet and domestic evening, with only the family circle. The conversation turned on various topics of practical benevolence, connected with the care and education of the poorer classes. Allusion being made to Mrs. Tyler's letter, Lady Russell expressed some concern lest the sincere and well-intended expression of the feeling of the English ladies might have done harm. I said that I did not think the spirit of Mrs. Tyler's letter was to be taken as representing the feeling of American ladies generally,—only of that class who are determined to maintain the rightfulness of slavery.
It seems to me that the better and more thinking part of the higher classes in England have conscientiously accepted the responsibility which the world has charged upon them of elevating and educating the poorer classes. In every circle since I have been here in England, I have heard the subject discussed as one of paramount importance.
One or two young gentlemen dropped in in the course of the evening, and the discourse branched out on the various topics of the day; such as the weather, literature, art, spiritual rappings, and table turnings, and all the floating et ceteras of life. Lady Russell apologized for the absence of Lord John in Parliament, and invited us to dine with, them at their residence in Richmond Park next week, when there is to be a parliamentary recess.
We left about ten o'clock, and went to pass the night with our friends Mr. and Mrs. Cropper at their hotel, being engaged to breakfast at the West End in the morning.
END OF VOLUME I.
[Footnote A: Since my return to the United States I have been informed that the Freewill Baptist denomination have adopted the same rigid principle of slavery exclusion that characterizes the Scotch Seceders and the Quakers. Let this be known to their honor.]
[Footnote B: This venerated, and erudite jurist, the friend and biographer of the celebrated Lord Jeffrey, has recently died.]
[Footnote C: This, alas! is no longer true. By the recent passage of the infamous Nebraska bill, this whole region, with the exception of two states already organized, is laid open to slavery. This faithless measure was nobly resisted by a large and able minority in Congress—honor to them.]
[Footnote D: This most learned and amiable judge recently died, while in the very act of charging a jury.]
[Footnote E: This resolution, drawn and offered, I think, by my hospitable friend, Mr. Binney, I have mislaid, and cannot find it. It was, however, in character and spirit, just what Mr. James here declares it to be.]
[Footnote F: I have been told since my return, that there are some slaveholding Congregational churches in the south; but they have no connection with our New England churches, and certainly are not generally known as Congregationalists distinct from the Presbyterians.]
[Footnote G: This has always been supposed and claimed in the United States. Now the time has come to test its truth. If there is this antislavery feeling in nine tenths of the people, the impudent iniquity of the Nebraska bill will call it forth.]
[Footnote H: Eight years ago I conscientiously approved and zealously defended this course of the American Board. Subsequent events have satisfied me, that, in the present circumstances of our country, making concessions to slaveholders, however slightly, and with whatever motives, even if not wrong in principle, is productive of no good. It does but strengthen slavery, and makes its demands still more exorbitant, and neutralizes the power of gospel truth.]
[Footnote I: This state of things is fast changing. Church members at the south now defend slavery as right. This is a new thing.]
[Footnote J: When your chimney has smoked as long as ours, it will, may be, need sweeping too.]
[Footnote K: Had I known all about New York and Boston which recent examinations have developed, I should have answered very differently. The fact is, that we in America can no longer congratulate ourselves on not having a degraded and miserable class in our cities, and it will be seen to be necessary for us to arouse to the very same efforts which, have been so successfully making in England.]
[Footnote L: This idea is beautifully wrought out by Mrs. Jamieson in her Characteristics of the Women of Shakspeare, to which, the author is indebted for the suggestion.]
[Footnote M: James Russell Lowell's "Beaver Brook."]
[Footnote N: The hymns beginning with, these lines, "If human, kindness meet return," and "Behold where, in a mortal form," are specimens.]