At the village of Helensburgh we stopped a little while to call upon Mrs. Bell, the wife of Mr. Bell, the inventor of the steamboat. His invention in this country was at about the same time as that of Fulton in America. Mrs. Bell came to the carriage to speak to us. She is a venerable woman, far advanced in years. They had prepared a lunch for us, and quite a number of people had come together to meet us, but our friends said there was not time for us to stop.
We rode through several villages after this, and met everywhere a warm welcome. What pleased me was, that it was not mainly from the literary, nor the rich, nor the great, but the plain, common people. The butcher came out of his stall and the baker from his shop, the miller dusty with flour, the blooming, comely young mother, with her baby in her arms, all smiling and bowing, with that hearty, intelligent, friendly look, as if they knew we should be glad to see them.
Once, while we stopped to change horses, I, for the sake of seeing something more of the country, walked on. It seems the honest landlord and his wife were greatly disappointed at this; however, they got into the carriage and rode on to see me, and I shook hands with them with a right good will.
We saw several of the clergymen, who came out to meet us; and I remember stopping just to be introduced, one by one, to a most delightful family, a gray-headed father and mother, with comely brothers and fair sisters, all looking so kindly and homelike, that I should have been glad to accept the invitation they gave me to their dwelling.
This day has been a strange phenomenon to me. In the first place, I have seen in all these villages how universally the people read. I have seen how capable they are of a generous excitement and enthusiasm, and how much may be done by a work of fiction so written as to enlist those sympathies which are common to all classes. Certainly a great deal may be effected in this way, if God gives to any one the power, as I hope he will to many. The power of fictitious writing, for good as well as evil, is a thing which ought most seriously to be reflected on. No one can fail to see that in our day it is becoming a very great agency.
We came home quite tired, as you may well suppose. You will not be surprised that the next day I found myself more disposed to keep my bed than go out.
Two days later: We bade farewell to Glasgow, overwhelmed with kindness to the last, and only oppressed by the thought of how little that was satisfactory we were able to give in return. Again we were in the railroad car on our way to Edinburgh. A pleasant two hours' trip is this from Glasgow to Edinburgh. When the cars stopped at Linlithgow station, the name started us as out of a dream.
In Edinburgh the cars stopped amid a crowd of people who had assembled to meet us. The lord provost met us at the door of the car, and presented us to the magistracy of the city and the committees of the Edinburgh Anti-Slavery Societies. The drab dresses and pure white bonnets of many Friends were conspicuous among the dense moving crowd, as white doves seen against a dark cloud. Mr. S. and myself, and our future hostess, Mrs. Wigham, entered the carriage with the lord provost, and away we drove, the crowd following with their shouts and cheers. I was inexpressibly touched and affected by this. While we were passing the monument of Scott, I felt an oppressive melancholy. What a moment life seems in the presence of the noble dead! What a momentary thing is art, in all its beauty! Where are all those great souls that have created such an atmosphere of light about Edinburgh? and how little a space was given them to live and enjoy!
We drove all over Edinburgh, up to the castle, to the university, to Holyrood, to the hospitals, and through many of the principal streets, amid shouts, and smiles, and greetings. Some boys amused me very much by their pertinacious attempts to keep up with the carriage.
"Heck," says one of them, "that's her; see the courls!"
The various engravers who have amused themselves by diversifying my face for the public having all, with great unanimity, agreed in giving prominence to this point, I suppose the urchins thought they were on safe ground there. I certainly think I answered one good purpose that day, and that is of giving the much-oppressed and calumniated class called boys an opportunity to develop all the noise that was in them, —a thing for which I think they must bless me in their remembrances. At last the carriage drove into a deep-graveled yard, and we alighted at a porch covered with green ivy, and found ourselves once more at home.
You may spare your anxieties about me, for I do assure you that if I were an old Svres china jar I could not have more careful handling than I do. Everybody is considerate; a great deal to say when there appears to be so much excitement. Everybody seems to understand how good-for-nothing I am; and yet, with all this consideration, I have been obliged to keep my room and bed for a good part of the time. Of the multitudes who have called, I have seen scarcely any.
To-morrow evening is to be the great tea-party here. How in the world I am ever to live through it I don't know.
The amount of letters we found waiting for us here in Edinburgh was, if possible, more appalling than in Glasgow. Among those from persons whom you would be interested in hearing of, I may mention a very kind and beautiful one from the Duchess of Sutherland, and one also from the Earl of Carlisle, both desiring to make appointments for meeting us as soon as we come to London. Also a very kind and interesting note from the Rev. Mr. Kingsley and lady. I look forward with a great deal of interest to passing a little time with them in their rectory.
As to all engagements, I am in a state of happy acquiescence, having resigned myself, as a very tame lion, into the hands of my keepers. Whenever the time comes for me to do anything, I try to behave as well as I can, which, as Dr. Young says, is all that an angel could do under the same circumstances.
April 26. Last night came off the soiree. The hall was handsomely decorated with flags in front. We went with the lord provost in his carriage. We went up as before into a dressing-room, where I was presented to many gentlemen and ladies. When we go in, the cheering, clapping, and stamping at first strikes one with a strange sensation; but then everybody looks so heartily pleased and delighted, and there is such an all-pervading atmosphere of geniality and sympathy, as makes me in a few moments feel quite at home. After all, I consider that these cheers and applauses are Scotland's voice to America, a recognition of the brotherhood of the countries.
The national penny offering, consisting of a thousand golden sovereigns on a magnificent silver salver, stood conspicuously in view of the audience. It has been an unsolicited offering, given in the smallest sums, often from the extreme poverty of the giver. The committee who collected it in Edinburgh and Glasgow bore witness to the willingness with which the very poorest contributed the offering of their sympathy. In one cottage they found a blind woman, and said, "Here, at least, is one who will feel no interest, as she cannot have read the book."
"Indeed," said the old lady, "if I cannot read, my son has read it to me, and I've got my penny saved to give."
It is to my mind extremely touching to see how the poor, in their poverty, can be moved to a generosity surpassing that of the rich. Nor do I mourn that they took it from their slender store, because I know that a penny given from a kindly impulse is a greater comfort and blessing to the poorest giver than even a penny received.
As in the case of the other meeting, we came out long before the speeches were ended. Well, of course I did not sleep all night, and the next day I felt quite miserable.
From Edinburgh we took cars for Aberdeen. I enjoyed this ride more than anything we had seen yet, the country was so wild and singular. In the afternoon we came in sight of the German Ocean. The free, bracing air from the sea, and the thought that it actually was the German Ocean, and that over the other side was Norway, within a day's sail of us, gave it a strange, romantic charm. It was towards the close of the afternoon that we found ourselves crossing the Dee, in view of Aberdeen. My spirits were wonderfully elated: the grand scenery and fine, bracing air; the noble, distant view of the city, rising with its harbor and shipping,—all filled me with delight. In this propitious state, disposed to be pleased with everything, our hearts responded warmly to the greetings of the many friends who were waiting for us at the station-house.
The lord provost received us into his carriage, and as we drove along pointed out to us the various objects of interest in the beautiful town. Among other things, a fine old bridge across the Dee attracted our particular attention. We were conducted to the house of Mr. Cruikshank, a Friend, and found waiting for us there the thoughtful hospitality which we had ever experienced in all our stopping-places. A snug little quiet supper was laid out upon the table, of which we partook in haste, as we were informed that the assembly at the hall were waiting to receive us.
There arrived, we found the hall crowded, and with difficulty made our way to the platform. Whether owing to the stimulating effect of the air from the ocean, or to the comparatively social aspect of the scene, or perhaps to both, certain it is that we enjoyed the meeting with great zest. I was surrounded on the stage with blooming young ladies, one of whom put into my hands a beautiful bouquet, some flowers of which I have now, dried, in my album. The refreshment tables were adorned with some exquisite wax flowers, the work, as I was afterwards told, of a young lady in the place. One of these designs especially interested me. It was a group of water-lilies resting on a mirror, which gave them the appearance of growing in the water.
We had some very animated speaking, in which the speakers contrived to blend enthusiastic admiration and love for America with detestation of slavery.
They presented an offering in a beautiful embroidered purse, and after much shaking of hands we went home, and sat down to the supper-table for a little more chat before going to bed. The next morning—as we had only till noon to stay in Aberdeen—our friends, the lord provost and Mr. Leslie, the architect, came immediately after breakfast to show us the place.
About two o'clock we started from Aberdeen, among crowds of friends, to whom we bade farewell with real regret.
At Stonehaven station, where we stopped a few minutes, there was quite a gathering of the inhabitants to exchange greetings, and afterwards, at successive stations along the road, many a kindly face and voice made our journey a pleasant one.
When we got into Dundee it seemed all alive with welcome. We went in the carriage with the lord provost, Mr. Thoms, to his residence, where a party had been waiting dinner for us for some time.
The meeting in the evening was in a large church, densely crowded, and conducted much as the others had been. When they came to sing the closing hymn, I hoped they would sing Dundee; but they did not, and I fear in Scotland, as elsewhere, the characteristic national melodies are giving way before more modern ones.
We left Dundee at two o'clock, by cars, for Edinburgh again, and in the evening attended another soiree of the workingmen of Edinburgh. We have received letters from the workingmen, both in Dundee and Glasgow, desiring our return to attend soirees in those cities. Nothing could give us greater pleasure, had we time or strength. The next day we had a few calls to make, and an invitation from Lady Drummond to visit classic Hawthornden, which, however, we had not time to accept. In the forenoon, Mr. S. and I called on Lord and Lady Gainsborough. Though she is one of the queen's household, she is staying here at Edinburgh while the queen is at Osborne. I infer, therefore, that the appointment includes no very onerous duties. The Earl of Gainsborough is the eldest brother of the Rev. Baptist W. Noel. It was a rainy, misty morning when I left my kind retreat and friends in Edinburgh. Considerate as everybody 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.
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 pleased we felt to think we had done it so nicely.
As we were drinking tea that evening, Elihu Burritt came in. It was the first time I had ever seen him, though I had heard a great deal of him from our friends in Edinburgh. He is a man in middle life, tall and slender, with fair complexion, blue eyes, an air of delicacy and refinement, and manners of great gentleness. My ideas of the "learned blacksmith" had been of something altogether more ponderous and peremptory. Elihu has been for some years operating, in England and on the Continent, in a movement which many in our half-Christianized times regard with as much incredulity as the grim, old warlike barons did the suspicious imbecilities of reading and writing. The sword now, as then, seems so much more direct a way to terminate controversies, that many Christian men, even, cannot conceive how the world is to get along without it.
We spent the evening in talking over various topics relating to the anti-slavery movement. Mr. Sturge was very confident that something more was to be done than had ever been done yet, by combinations for the encouragement of free in the place of slave grown produce; a question which has, ever since the days of Clarkson, more or less deeply occupied the minds of abolitionists in England. I should say that Mr. Sturge in his family has for many years conscientiously forborne the use of any article produced by slave labor. I could scarcely believe it possible that there could be such an abundance and variety of all that is comfortable and desirable in the various departments of household living within these limits. Mr. Sturge presents the subject with very great force, the more so from the consistency of his example.
The next morning, as we were sitting down to breakfast, our friends sent in to me a plate of the largest, finest strawberries I have ever seen, which, considering that it was only the latter part of April, seemed to me quite an astonishing luxury.
Before we left, we had agreed to meet a circle of friends from Birmingham, consisting of the Abolition Society there, which is of long standing, extending back in its memories to the very commencement of the agitation under Clarkson and Wilberforce. The windows of the parlor were opened to the ground; and the company invited filled not only the room, but stood in a crowd on the grass around the window. Among the peaceable company present was an admiral in the navy, a fine, cheerful old gentleman, who entered with hearty interest into the scene.
A throng of friends accompanied us to the depot, while from Birmingham we had the pleasure of the company of Elihu Burritt, and enjoyed a delightful run to London, where we arrived towards evening.
At the station-house in London we found the Rev. Messrs. Binney and Sherman waiting for us with carriages. C. went with Mr. Sherman, and Mr. S. and I soon found ourselves in a charming retreat called Rose Cottage, in Walworth, about which I will tell you more anon. Mrs. B. received us with every attention which the most thoughtful hospitality could suggest. One of the first things she said to me after we got into our room was, "Oh, we are so glad you have come! for we are all going to the lord mayor's dinner tonight, and you are invited." So, though I was tired, I hurried to dress in all the glee of meeting an adventure. As soon as Mr. and Mrs. B. and the rest of the party were ready, crack went the whip, round went the wheels, and away we drove.
We found a considerable throng, and I was glad to accept a seat which was offered me in the agreeable vicinity of the lady mayoress, so that I might see what would be interesting to me of the ceremonial.
A very dignified gentleman, dressed in black velvet, with a fine head, made his way through the throng, and sat down by me, introducing himself as Lord Chief Baron Pollock. He told me he had just been reading the legal part of the "Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin," and remarked especially on the opinion of Judge Ruffin, in the case of State v. Mann, as having made a deep impression on his mind.
Dinner was announced between nine and ten o'clock, and we were conducted into a splendid hall, where the tables were laid.
Directly opposite me was Mr. Dickens, whom I now beheld for the first time, and was surprised to see looking so young. Mr. Justice Talfourd, known as the author of "Ion," was also there with his lady. She had a beautiful, antique cast of head. The lord mayor was simply dressed in black, without any other adornment than a massive gold chain. We rose from table between eleven and twelve o'clock—that is, we ladies—and went into the drawing-room, where I was presented to Mrs. Dickens and several other ladies. Mrs. Dickens is a good specimen of a truly English woman; tall, large, and well developed, with fine, healthy color, and an air of frankness, cheerfulness, and reliability. A friend whispered to me that she was as observing and fond of humor as her husband.
After a while the gentlemen came back to the drawing-room, and I had a few moments of very pleasant, friendly conversation with Mr. Dickens. They are both people that one could not know a little of without desiring to know more. After a little we began to talk of separating; the lord mayor to take his seat in the House of Commons, and the rest of the party to any other engagement that might be upon their list.
"Come, let us go to the House of Commons," said one of my friends, "and make a night of it." "With all my heart," replied I, "if I only had another body to go into to-morrow."
What a convenience in sight-seeing it would be if one could have a relay of bodies as of clothes, and slip from one into the other! But we, not used to the London style of turning night into day, are full weary already. So good-night to you all.
FROM OVER THE SEA, 1853.
THE EARL OF CARLISLE.—ARTHUR HELPS.—THE DUKE AND DUCHESS OF ARGYLL. —MARTIN FARQUHAR TUPPER.—A MEMORABLE MEETING AT STAFFORD HOUSE.— MACAULAY AND DEAN MILMAN.—WINDSOR CASTLE.—PROFESSOR STOWE RETURNS TO AMERICA.—MRS. STOWE ON THE CONTINENT.—IMPRESSIONS OF PARIS.—EN ROUTE TO SWITZERLAND AND GERMANY.—BACK TO ENGLAND.—HOMEWARD BOUND.
ROSE COTTAGE, WALWORTH, LONDON, May 2, 1856.
MY DEAR,—This morning Mrs. Follen called and we had quite a chat. We are separated by the whole city. She lives at the West End, while I am down here in Walworth, which is one of the postscripts of London, for this place has as many postscripts as a lady's letter. This evening we dined with the Earl of Carlisle. There was no company but ourselves, for he, with great consideration, said in his note that he thought a little quiet would be the best thing he could offer.
Lord Carlisle is a great friend to America, and so is his sister, the Duchess of Sutherland. He is the only English traveler who ever wrote notes on our country in a real spirit of appreciation.
We went about seven o'clock, the dinner hour being here somewhere between eight and nine. We were shown into an ante-room adjoining the entrance hall, and from that into an adjacent apartment, where we met Lord Carlisle. The room had a pleasant, social air, warmed and enlivened by the blaze of a coal fire and wax candles.
We had never, any of us, met Lord Carlisle before; but the considerateness and cordiality of our reception obviated whatever embarrassment there might have been in this circumstance. In a few moments after we were all seated, a servant announced the Duchess of Sutherland, and Lord Carlisle presented me. She is tall and stately, with a most noble bearing. Her fair complexion, blonde hair, and full lips speak of Saxon blood.
The only person present not of the family connection was my quondam correspondent in America, Arthur Helps. Somehow or other I had formed the impression from his writings that he was a venerable sage of very advanced years, who contemplated life as an aged hermit from the door of his cell. Conceive my surprise to find a genial young gentleman of about twenty-five, who looked as if he might enjoy a joke as well as another man.
After the ladies left the table, the conversation turned on the Maine law, which seems to be considered over here as a phenomenon in legislation, and many of the gentlemen present inquired about it with great curiosity.
After the gentlemen rejoined us, the Duke and Duchess of Argyll came in, and Lord and Lady Blantyre. These ladies are the daughters of the Duchess of Sutherland. The Duchess of Argyll is of slight and fairy- like figure, with flaxen hair and blue eyes, answering well enough to the description of Annot Lyle in the Legend of Montrose. Lady Blantyre was somewhat taller, of fuller figure, with a very brilliant bloom. Lord Blantyre is of the Stuart blood, a tall and slender young man with very graceful manners.
As to the Duke of Argyll, we found that the picture drawn of him by his countrymen in Scotland was in every way correct. Though slight of figure, with fair complexion and blue eyes, his whole appearance is indicative of energy and vivacity. His talents and efficiency have made him a member of the British Cabinet at a much earlier age than is usual; and he has distinguished himself not only in political life, but as a writer, having given to the world a work on Presbyterianism, embracing an analysis of the ecclesiastical history of Scotland since the Reformation, which is spoken of as written with great ability, and in a most liberal spirit. He made many inquiries about our distinguished men, particularly of Emerson, Longfellow, and Hawthorne; also of Prescott, who appears to be a general favorite here. I felt at the moment that we never value our own literary men so much as when we are placed in a circle of intelligent foreigners.
The following evening we went to dine with our old friends of the Dingle, Mr. and Mrs. Edward Cropper, who are now spending a little time in London. We were delighted to meet them once more and to hear from our Liverpool friends. Mrs. Cropper's father, Lord Denman, has returned to England, though with no sensible improvement in his health.
At dinner we were introduced to Lord and Lady Hatherton. Lady Hatherton is a person of great cultivation and intelligence, warmly interested in all the progressive movements of the day; and I gained much information in her society. There were also present Sir Charles and Lady Trevelyan; the former holds an appointment at the treasury, and Lady Trevelyan is a sister of Macaulay.
In the evening quite a circle came in, among others Lady Emma Campbell, sister of the Duke of Argyll; the daughters of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who very kindly invited me to visit them at Lambeth; and Mr. Arthur Helps, besides many others whose names I need not mention.
May 7. This evening our house was opened in a general way for callers, who were coming and going all the evening. I think there must have been over two hundred people, among them Martin Farquhar Tupper, a little man with fresh, rosy complexion and cheery, joyous manners; and Mary Howitt, just such a cheerful, sensible, fireside companion as we find her in her books,—winning love and trust the very first moment of the interview.
The general topic of remark on meeting me seems to be, that I am not so bad-looking as they were afraid I was; and I do assure you that when I have seen the things that are put up in the shop windows here with my name under them, I have been in wondering admiration at the boundless loving-kindness of my English and Scottish friends in keeping up such a warm heart for such a Gorgon. I should think that the Sphinx in the London Museum might have sat for most of them. I am going to make a collection of these portraits to bring home to you. There is a great variety of them, and they will be useful, like the Irishman's guide-board, which showed where the road did not go.
Before the evening was through I was talked out and worn out; there was hardly a chip of me left. To-morrow at eleven o'clock comes the meeting at Stafford House. What it will amount to I do not know; but I take no thought for the morrow.
MY DEAR C.,—In fulfillment of my agreement I will tell you, as nearly as I can remember, all the details of the meeting at Stafford House. At about eleven o'clock we drove under the arched carriage-way of a mansion externally not very showy in appearance.
When the duchess appeared, I thought she looked handsomer by daylight than in the evening. She received us with the same warm and simple kindness which she had shown before. We were presented to the Duke of Sutherland. He is a tall, slender man, with rather a thin face, light- brown hair, and a mild blue eye, with an air of gentleness and dignity.
Among the first that entered were the members of the family, the Duke and Duchess of Argyll, Lord and Lady Blantyre, the Marquis and Marchioness of Stafford, and Lady Emma Campbell. Then followed Lord Shaftesbury with his beautiful lady, and her father and mother, Lord and Lady Palmerston. Lord Palmerston is of middle height, with a keen dark eye and black hair streaked with gray. There is something peculiarly alert and vivacious about all his movements; in short, his appearance perfectly answers to what we know of him from his public life. One has a strange, mythological feeling about the existence of people of whom one hears for many years without ever seeing them. While talking with Lord Palmerston I could but remember how often I had heard father and Mr. S. exulting over his foreign dispatches by our own fireside. There were present, also, Lord John Russell, Mr. Gladstone, and Lord Granville. The latter we all thought very strikingly resembled in his appearance the poet Longfellow.
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. 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 Whateley was there, with Mrs. and Miss Whateley; 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.
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.
On this occasion the Duchess of Sutherland presented Mrs. Stowe with a superb gold bracelet, made in the form of a slave's shackle, bearing the inscription: "We trust it is a memorial of a chain that is soon to be broken." On two of the links were inscribed the dates of the abolition of the slave-trade and of slavery in English territory. Years after its presentation to her, Mrs. Stowe was able to have engraved on the clasp of this bracelet, "Constitutional Amendment (forever abolishing slavery in the United States)."
Continuing her interesting journal, Mrs. Stowe writes, May 9th:—
DEAR E.,—This letter I consecrate to you, because I know that the persons and things to be introduced into it will most particularly be appreciated by you.
In your evening reading circles, Macaulay, Sydney Smith, and Milman have long been such familiar names that you will be glad to go with me over all the scenes of my morning breakfast at Sir Charles Trevelyan's yesterday. Lady Trevelyan, I believe I have said before, is a sister of Macaulay.
We were set down at Westbourne Terrace somewhere, I believe, about eleven o'clock, and found quite a number already in the drawing-room. I had met Macaulay before, but being seated between him and Dean Milman, I must confess I was a little embarrassed at times, because I wanted to hear what they were both saying at the same time. However, by the use of the faculty by which you play a piano with both hands, I got on very comfortably.
There were several other persons of note present at this breakfast, whose conversation I had not an opportunity of hearing, as they sat at a distance from me. There was Lord Glenelg, brother of Sir Robert Grant, governor of Bombay, whose beautiful hymns have rendered him familiar in America. The favorite one, commencing
"When gathering clouds around I view,"
was from his pen.
The historian Hallam was also present, and I think it very likely there may have been other celebrities whom I did not know. I am always finding out, a day or two after, that I have been with somebody very remarkable and did not know it at the time.
Under date of May 18th she writes to her sister Mary:—
DEAR M.,—I can compare the embarrassment of our London life, with its multiplied solicitations and infinite stimulants to curiosity and desire, only to that annual perplexity which used to beset us in our childhood on Thanksgiving Day. Like Miss Edgeworth's philosophic little Frank, we are obliged to make out a list of what man must want, and of what he may want; and in our list of the former we set down, in large and decisive characters, one quiet day for the exploration and enjoyment of Windsor.
The ride was done all too soon. About eleven o'clock we found ourselves going up the old stone steps to the castle. We went first through the state apartments. The principal thing that interested me was the ball-room, which was a perfect gallery of Vandyke's paintings. After leaving the ball-room we filed off to the proper quarter to show our orders for the private rooms. The state apartments, which we had been looking at, are open at all times, but the private apartments can only be seen in the Queen's absence and by a special permission, which had been procured for us on that occasion by the kindness of the Duchess of Sutherland.
One of the first objects that attracted my attention upon entering the vestibule was a baby's wicker wagon, standing in one corner. It was much such a carriage as all mothers are familiar with; such as figures largely in the history of almost every family. It had neat curtains and cushions of green merino, and was not royal, only maternal. I mused over the little thing with a good deal of interest.
We went for our dinner to the White Hart, the very inn which Shakespeare celebrates in his "Merry Wives," and had a most overflowing merry time of it. After dinner we had a beautiful drive.
We were bent upon looking up the church which gave rise to Gray's "Elegy in a Country Churchyard," intending when we got there to have a little scene over it; Mr. S., in all the conscious importance of having been there before, assuring us that he knew exactly where it was. So, after some difficulty with our coachman, and being stopped at one church which would not answer our purpose in any respect, we were at last set down by one which looked authentic; embowered in mossy elms, with a most ancient and goblin yew-tree, an ivy-mantled tower, all perfect as could be. Here, leaning on the old fence, we repeated the Elegy, which certainly applies here as beautifully as language could apply.
Imagine our chagrin, on returning to London, at being informed that we had not been to the genuine churchyard after all. The gentleman who wept over the scenes of his early days on the wrong doorstep was not more grievously disappointed. However, he and we could both console ourselves with the reflection that the emotion was admirable, and wanted only the right place to make it the most appropriate in the world.
The evening after our return from Windsor was spent with our kind friends, Mr. and Mrs. Gurney. After breakfast the next day, Mr. S., C., and I drove out to call upon Kossuth. We found him in an obscure lodging on the outskirts of London. I would that some of the editors in America, who have thrown out insinuations about his living in luxury, could have seen the utter bareness and plainness of the reception room, which had nothing in it beyond the simplest necessaries. He entered into conversation with us with cheerfulness, speaking English well, though with the idioms of foreign languages. When we parted he took my hand kindly and said, "God bless you, my child!"
I have been quite amused with something which has happened lately. This week the "Times" has informed the United Kingdom that Mrs. Stowe is getting a new dress made! It wants to know if Mrs. Stowe is aware what sort of a place her dress is being made in; and there is a letter from a dressmaker's apprentice stating that it is being made up piecemeal, in the most shockingly distressed dens of London, by poor, miserable white slaves, worse treated than the plantation slaves of America!
Now Mrs. Stowe did not know anything of this, but simply gave the silk into the hands of a friend, and was in due time waited on in her own apartment by a very respectable-appearing woman, who offered to make the dress, and lo, this is the result! Since the publication of this piece, I have received earnest missives, from various parts of the country, begging me to interfere, hoping that I was not going to patronize the white slavery of England, and that I would employ my talents equally against oppression in every form. Could these people only know in what sweet simplicity I had been living in the State of Maine, where the only dressmaker of our circle was an intelligent, refined, well-educated woman who was considered as the equal of us all, and whose spring and fall ministrations to our wardrobe were regarded a double pleasure,—a friendly visit as well as a domestic assistance,—I say, could they know all this, they would see how guiltless I was in the matter. I verily never thought but that the nice, pleasant person who came to measure me for my silk dress was going to take it home and make it herself; it never occurred to me that she was the head of an establishment.
May 22, she writes to her husband, whose duties had obliged him to return to America: "To-day we went to hear a sermon in behalf of the ragged schools by the Archbishop of Canterbury. My thoughts have been much saddened by the news which I received of the death of Mary Edmonson."
"May 30. The next day from my last letter came off Miss Greenfield's concert, of which I send a card. You see in what company they have put your poor little wife. Funny!—isn't it? Well, the Hons. and Right Hons. all were there. I sat by Lord Carlisle.
"After the concert the duchess asked Lady Hatherton and me to come round to Stafford House and take tea, which was not a thing to be despised, either on account of the tea or the duchess. A lovelier time we never had,—present, the Duchess of Argyll, Lady Caroline Campbell, Lady Hatherton, and myself. We had the nicest cup of tea, with such cream, and grapes and apricots, with some Italian bread, etc.
"When we were going the duchess got me, on some pretext, into another room, and came up and put her arms round me, with her noble face all full of feeling.
"'Oh, Mrs. Stowe, I have been reading that last chapter in the "Key"; Argyll read it aloud to us. Oh, surely, surely you will succeed,—God surely will bless you!'
"I said then that I thanked her for all her love and feeling for us, told her how earnestly all the women of England sympathized with her, and many in America. She looked really radiant and inspired. Had those who hang back from our cause seen her face, it might have put a soul into them as she said again, 'It will be done—it will be done—oh, I trust and pray it may!'
"So we kissed each other, and vowed friendship and fidelity—so I came away.
"To-day I am going with Lord Shaftesbury to St. Paul's to see the charity children, after which lunch with Dean Milman.
"May 31. We went to lunch with Miss R. at Oxford Terrace, where, among a number of distinguished guests, was Lady Byron, with whom I had a few moments of deeply interesting conversation. No engravings that ever have been circulated in America do any justice to her appearance. She is of slight figure, formed with exceeding delicacy, and her whole form, face, dress, and air unite to make an impression of a character singularly dignified, gentle, pure, and yet strong. No words addressed to me in any conversation hitherto have made their way to my inner soul with such force as a few remarks dropped by her on the present religious aspect of England,—remarks of such quality as one seldom hears.
"According to request, I will endeavor to keep you informed of all our goings-on after you left, up to the time of our departure for Paris.
"We have borne in mind your advice to hasten away to the Continent. Charles wrote, a day or two since, to Mrs. C. at Paris to secure very private lodgings, and by no means let any one know that we were coming. She has replied urging us to come to her house, and promising entire seclusion and rest. So, since you departed, we have been passing with a kind of comprehensive skip and jump over remaining engagements. And just the evening after you left came off the presentation of the inkstand by the ladies of Surrey Chapel.
"It is a beautiful specimen of silver-work, eighteen inches long, with a group of silver figures on it representing Religion, with the Bible in her hand, giving liberty to the slave. The slave is a masterly piece of work. He stands with his hands clasped, looking up to Heaven, while a white man is knocking the shackles from his feet. But the prettiest part of the scene was the presentation of a gold pen by a band of beautiful children, one of whom made a very pretty speech. I called the little things to come and stand around me, and talked with them a few minutes, and this was all the speaking that fell to my share.
"To-morrow we go—go to quiet, to obscurity, to peace—to Paris, to Switzerland; there we shall find the loveliest glen, and, as the Bible says, 'fall on sleep.'
"Paris, June 4. Here we are in Paris, in a most charming family. I have been out all the morning exploring shops, streets, boulevards, and seeing and hearing life in Paris. When one has a pleasant home and friends to return to, this gay, bustling, vivacious, graceful city is one of the most charming things in the world; and we have a most charming home.
"I wish the children could see these Tuileries with their statues and fountains, men, women, and children seated in family groups under the trees, chatting, reading aloud, working muslin,—children driving hoop, playing ball, all alive and chattering French. Such fresh, pretty girls as are in the shops here! Je suis rav, as they say. In short I am decidedly in a French humor, and am taking things quite couleur de rose.
"Monday, June 13. We went this morning to the studio of M. Belloc, who is to paint my portrait. The first question which he proposed, with a genuine French air, was the question of 'pose' or position. It was concluded that, as other pictures had taken me looking at the spectator, this should take me looking away. M. Belloc remarked that M. Charpentier said I appeared always with the air of an observer,—was always looking around on everything. Hence M. Belloc would take me 'en observatrice, mais pas en curieuse,'—with the air of observation, but not of curiosity. By and by M. Charpentier came in. He began panegyrizing 'Uncle Tom,' and this led to a discussion of the ground of its unprecedented success. In his thirty- five years' experience as a bookseller, he had known nothing like it. It surpassed all modern writings! At first he would not read it; his taste was for old masters of a century or two ago. 'Like M. Belloc in painting,' said I. At length he found his friend M., the first intelligence of the age, reading it.
"'What, you, too?' said he.
"'Ah, ah!' replied the friend; 'say nothing about this book! There is nothing like it. This leaves us all behind,—all, all, miles behind!'
"M. Belloc said the reason was because there was in it more genuine faith than in any book; and we branched off into florid eloquence touching paganism, Christianity, and art.
"Wednesday, June 22. Adieu to Paris! Ho for Chalons-sur-Sane! After affectionate farewells of our kind friends, by eleven o'clock we were rushing, in the pleasantest of cars, over the smoothest of rails, through Burgundy. We arrived at Chalons at nine P. M.
"Thursday, 23, eight o'clock A. M. Since five we have had a fine bustle on the quay below our windows. There lay three steamers, shaped for all the world like our last night's rolls. One would think Ichabod Crane might sit astride one of them and dip his feet in the water. They ought to be swift. L'Hirondelle (The Swallow) flew at five; another at six. We leave at nine.
"Lyons. There was a scene of indescribable confusion upon our arrival here. Out of the hold of our steamer a man with a rope and hook began hauling baggage up a smooth board. Three hundred people were sorting their goods without checks. Porters were shouldering immense loads, four or five heavy trunks at once, corded together, and stalking off Atlantean. Hat-boxes, bandboxes, and valises burst like a meteoric shower out of a crater. 'A moi, moi!' was the cry, from old men, young women, soldiers, shopkeepers, and frres, scuffling and shoving together.
"Saturday, June 25. Lyons to Genve. As this was our first experience in the diligence line, we noticed particularly every peculiarity. I had had the idea that a diligence was a ricketty, slow- moulded antediluvian nondescript, toiling patiently along over impassable roads at a snail's pace. Judge of my astonishment at finding it a full-blooded, vigorous monster, of unscrupulous railway momentum and imperturbable equipoise of mind. Down the macadamized slopes we thundered at a prodigious pace; up the hills we trotted, with six horses, three abreast; madly through the little towns we burst, like a whirlwind, crashing across the pebbled streets, and out upon the broad, smooth road again. Before we had well considered the fact that we were out of Lyons we stopped to change horses. Done in a jiffy; and whoop, crick, crack, whack, rumble, bump, whirr, whisk, away we blazed, till, ere we knew it, another change and another.
"As evening drew on, a wind sprang up and a storm seemed gathering on the Jura. The rain dashed against the panes of the berlin as we rode past the grim-faced monarch of the 'misty shroud.' It was night as we drove into Geneva and stopped at the Messagerie. I heard with joy a voice demanding if this were Madame Besshare. I replied, not without some scruples of conscience, 'Oui, Monsieur, c'est moi,' though the name did not sound exactly like the one to which I had been wont to respond. In half an hour we were at home in the mansion of Monsieur Fazy."
From Geneva the party made a tour of the Swiss Alps, spending some weeks among them. While there Charles Beecher wrote from a small hotel at the foot of the Jura:—
"The people of the neighborhood, having discovered who Harriet was, were very kind, and full of delight at seeing her. It was Scotland over again. We have had to be unflinching to prevent her being overwhelmed, both in Paris and Geneva, by the same demonstrations of regard. To this we were driven, as a matter of life and death. It was touching to listen to the talk of these secluded mountaineers. The good hostess, even the servant maids, hung about Harriet, expressing such tender interest for the slave. All had read 'Uncle Tom;' and it had apparently been an era in their life's monotony, for they said, 'Oh, madam, do write another! Remember, our winter nights here are very long!'"
Upon their return to Geneva they visited the Castle of Chillon, of which, in describing the dungeons, Mrs. Stowe writes:—
"One of the pillars in this vault is covered with names. I think it is Bonnevard's Pillar. There are the names of Byron, Hunt, Schiller, and ever so many more celebrities. As we were going from the cell our conductress seemed to have a sudden light upon her mind. She asked a question or two of some of our party, and fell upon me vehemently to put my name also there. Charley scratched it on the soft freestone, and there it is for future ages. The lady could scarce repress her enthusiasm; she shook my hand over and over again, and said she had read 'Uncle Tom.' 'It is beautiful,' she said, 'but it is cruel.'
"Monday, July 18. Weather suspicious. Stowed ourselves and our baggage into our voiture, and bade adieu to our friends and to Geneva. Ah, how regretfully! From the market-place we carried away a basket of cherries and fruit as a consolation. Dined at Lausanne, and visited the cathedral and picture-gallery, where was an exquisite Eva. Slept at Meudon.
"Tuesday, July 19. Rode through Payerne to Freyburg. Stopped at the Zhringer Hof,—most romantic of inns.
"Wednesday, July 20. Examined, not the lions, but the bears of Berne. Engaged a coiture and drove to Thun. Dined and drove by the shore of the lake to Interlachen, arriving just after a brilliant sunset.
"We crossed the Wengern Alps to Grindelwald. The Jungfrau is right over against us,—her glaciers purer, tenderer, more dazzlingly beautiful, if possible, than those of Mont Blanc. Slept at Grindelwald."
From Rosenlaui, on this journey, Charles Beecher writes:—
"Friday, July 22. Grindelwald to Meyringen. On we came, to the top of the Great Schiedeck, where H. and W. botanized, while I slept. Thence we rode down the mountain till we reached Rosenlaui, where, I am free to say, a dinner was to me a more interesting object than a glacier. Therefore, while H. and W. went to the latter, I turned off to the inn, amid their cries and reproaches.
"Here, then, I am, writing these notes in the salle manger of the inn, where other voyagers are eating and drinking, and there is H. feeding on the green moonshine of an emerald ice cave. One would almost think her incapable of fatigue. How she skips up and down high places and steep places, to the manifest perplexity of the honest guide Kienholz, pre, who tries to take care of her, but does not exactly know how! She gets on a pyramid of dbris, which the edge of the glacier is plowing and grinding up, sits down, and falls—not asleep exactly, but into a trance. W. and I are ready to go on: we shout; our voice is lost in the roar of the torrent. We send the guide. He goes down, and stands doubtfully. He does not know exactly what to do. She hears him, and starts to her feet, pointing with one hand to yonder peak, and with the other to that knife-like edge that seems cleaving heaven with its keen and glistening cimeter of snow, reminding one of Isaiah's sublime imagery, 'For my sword is bathed in heaven.' She points at the grizzly rocks, with their jags and spear- points. Evidently she is beside herself, and thinks she can remember the names of those monsters, born of earthquake and storm, which cannot be named nor known but by sight, and then are known at once perfectly and forever."
After traveling through Germany, Belgium, and Holland, the party returned to Paris toward the end of August, from which place Mrs. Stowe writes:—
"I am seated in a snug little room at M. Belloc's. The weather is overpoweringly hot, but these Parisian houses seem to have seized and imprisoned coolness. French household ways are delightful. I like their seclusion from the street by these deep-paned quadrangles.
"Madame Belloc was the translator of Maria Edgeworth, by that lady's desire; corresponded with her for years, and still has many of her letters. Her translation of 'Uncle Tom' has to me all the merit and all the interest of an original composition. In perusing it, I enjoy the pleasure of reading the story with scarce any consciousness of its ever having been mine."
The next letter is from London en route for America, to which passage had been engaged on the Collins steamer Arctic. In it Mrs. Stowe writes:—
"London, August 28. Our last letters from home changed all our plans. We concluded to hurry away by the next steamer, if at that late hour we could get a passage. We were all in a bustle. The last shoppings for aunts, cousins, and little folks were to be done by us all. The Palais Royal was to be rummaged; bronzes, vases, statuettes, bonbons, playthings,—all that the endless fertility of France could show,—was to be looked over for the 'folks at home.'
"How we sped across the Channel C. relates. We are spending a few very pleasant days with our kind friends the L.'s, in London.
"On board the Arctic, September 7. On Thursday, September 1, we reached York, and visited the beautiful ruins of St. Mary's Abbey, and the magnificent cathedral. It rained with inflexible pertinacity during all the time we were there, and the next day it rained still, when we took the cars for Castle Howard station.
"Lady Carlisle welcomed us most affectionately, and we learned that, had we not been so reserved at the York station in concealing our names, we should have received a note from her. However, as we were safely arrived, it was of no consequence.
"Our friends spoke much of Sunmer and Prescott, who had visited there; also of Mr. Lawrence, our former ambassador, who had visited them just before his return. After a very pleasant day, we left with regret the warmth of this hospitable circle, thus breaking one more of the links that bind us to the English shore.
"Nine o'clock in the evening found us sitting by a cheerful fire in the parlor of Mr. E. Baines at Leeds. The next day the house was filled with company, and the Leeds offering was presented.
"Tuesday we parted from our excellent friends in Leeds, and soon found ourselves once more in the beautiful "Dingle," our first and last resting-place on English shores.
"A deputation from Belfast, Ireland, here met me, presenting a beautiful bog-oak casket, lined with gold, and carved with appropriate national symbols, containing an offering for the cause of the oppressed. They read a beautiful address, and touched upon the importance of inspiring with the principles of emancipation the Irish nation, whose influence in our land is becoming so great. Had time and strength permitted, it had been my purpose to visit Ireland, to revisit Scotland, and to see more of England. But it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. And now came parting, leave-taking, last letters, notes, and messages.
"Thus, almost sadly as a child might leave its home, I left the shores of kind, strong Old England,—the mother of us all."
HOME AGAIN, 1853-1856.
ANTI-SLAVERY WORK.—STIRRING TIMES IN THE UNITED STATES.—ADDRESS TO THE LADIES OF GLASGOW.—APPEAL TO THE WOMEN OF AMERICA.— CORRESPONDENCE WITH WILLIAM LLOYD GARRISON.—THE WRITING OF "DRED."— FAREWELL LETTER FROM GEORGIANA MAY.—SECOND VOYAGE TO ENGLAND.
After her return in the autumn of 1853 from her European tour, Mrs. Stowe threw herself heart and soul into the great struggle with slavery. Much of her time was occupied in distributing over a wide area of country the English gold with which she had been intrusted for the advancement of the cause. With this money she assisted in the redemption of slaves whose cases were those of peculiar hardship, and helped establish them as free men. She supported anti-slavery lectures wherever they were most needed, aided in establishing and maintaining anti-slavery publications, founded and assisted in supporting schools in which colored people might be taught how to avail themselves of the blessings of freedom. She arranged public meetings, and prepared many of the addresses that should be delivered at them. She maintained such an extensive correspondence with persons of all shades of opinion in all parts of the world, that the letters received and answered by her between 1853 and 1856 would fill volumes. With all these multifarious interests, her children received a full share of her attention, nor were her literary activities relaxed.
Immediately upon the completion of her European tour, her experiences were published in the form of a journal, both in this country and England, under the title of "Sunny Memories." She also revised and elaborated the collection of sketches which had been published by the Harpers in 1843, under title of "The Mayflower," and having purchased the plates caused them to be republished in 1855 by Phillips & Sampson, the successors of John P. Jewett & Co., in this country, and by Sampson Low & Co. in London.
Soon after her return to America, feeling that she owed a debt of gratitude to her friends in Scotland, which her feeble health had not permitted her adequately to express while with them, Mrs. Stowe wrote the following open letter:—
TO THE LADIES' ANTI-SLAVERY SOCIETY OF GLASGOW:
Dear Friends,—I have had many things in my mind to say to you, which it was my hope to have said personally, but which I am now obliged to say by letter.
I have had many fears that you must have thought our intercourse, during the short time that I was in Glasgow, quite unsatisfactory.
At the time that I accepted your very kind invitation, I was in tolerable health, and supposed that I should be in a situation to enjoy society, and mingle as much in your social circles as you might desire.
When the time came for me to fulfil my engagement with you, I was, as you know, confined to my bed with a sickness brought on by the exertion of getting the "Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin" through the press during the winter.
In every part of the world the story of "Uncle Tom" had awakened sympathy for the American slave, and consequently in every part of the world the story of his wrongs had been denied; it had been asserted to be a mere work of romance, and I was charged with being the slanderer of the institutions of my own country. I knew that if I shrank from supporting my position, the sympathy which the work had excited would gradually die out, and the whole thing would be looked upon as a mere romantic excitement of the passions.
When I came abroad, I had not the slightest idea of the kind of reception which was to meet me in England and Scotland. I had thought of something involving considerable warmth, perhaps, and a good deal of cordiality and feeling on the part of friends; but of the general extent of feeling through society, and of the degree to which it would be publicly expressed, I had, I may say, no conception.
As through your society I was invited to your country, it may seem proper that what communication I have to make to friends in England and Scotland should be made through you.
In the first place, then, the question will probably arise in your minds, Have the recent demonstrations in Great Britain done good to the anti-slavery cause in America?
The first result of those demonstrations, as might have been expected, was an intense reaction. Every kind of false, evil, and malignant report has been circulated by malicious and partisan papers; and if there is any blessing in having all manner of evil said against us falsely, we have seemed to be in a fair way to come in possession of it.
The sanction which was given in this matter to the voice of the people, by the nobility of England and Scotland, has been regarded and treated with special rancor; and yet, in its place, it has been particularly important. Without it great advantages would have been taken to depreciate the value of the national testimony. The value of this testimony in particular will appear from the fact that the anti- slavery cause has been treated with especial contempt by the leaders of society in this country, and every attempt made to brand it with ridicule.
The effect of making a cause generally unfashionable is much greater in this world than it ought to be. It operates very powerfully with the young and impressible portion of the community; therefore Cassius M. Clay very well said with regard to the demonstration at Stafford House: "It will help our cause by rendering it fashionable."
With regard to the present state of the anti-slavery cause in America, I think, for many reasons, that it has never been more encouraging. It is encouraging in this respect, that the subject is now fairly up for inquiry before the public mind. And that systematic effort which has been made for years to prevent its being discussed is proving wholly ineffectual.
The "Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin" has sold extensively at the South, following in the wake of "Uncle Tom." Not one fact or statement in it has been disproved as yet. I have yet to learn of even an attempt to disprove.
The "North American Review," a periodical which has never been favorable to the discussion of the slavery question, has come out with a review of "Uncle Tom's Cabin," in which, while rating the book very low as a work of art, they account for its great circulation and success by the fact of its being a true picture of slavery. They go on to say that the system is one so inherently abominable that, unless slaveholders shall rouse themselves and abolish the principle of chattel ownership, they can no longer sustain themselves under the contempt and indignation of the whole civilized world. What are the slaveholders to do when this is the best their friends and supporters can say for them?
I regret to say that the movements of Christian denominations on this subject are yet greatly behind what they should be. Some movements have been made by religious bodies, of which I will not now speak; but as a general thing the professed Christian church is pushed up to its duty by the world, rather than the world urged on by the church.
The colored people in this country are rapidly rising in every respect. I shall request Frederick Douglass to send you the printed account of the recent colored convention. It would do credit to any set of men whatever, and I hope you will get some notice taken of it in the papers of the United Kingdom. It is time that the slanders against this unhappy race should be refuted, and it should he seen how, in spite of every social and political oppression, they are rising in the scale of humanity. In my opinion they advance quite as fast as any of the foreign races which have found an asylum among us.
May God so guide us in all things that our good he not evil spoken of, and that we be left to defend nothing which is opposed to his glory and the good of man!
Yours in all sympathy,
H. B. STOWE.
During the Kansas and Nebraska agitation (1853-54), Mrs. Stowe, in common with the abolitionists of the North, was deeply impressed with a solemn sense that it was a desperate crisis in the nation's history. She was in constant correspondence with Charles Sumner and other distinguished statesmen of the time, and kept herself informed as to the minutest details of the struggle. At this time she wrote and caused to be circulated broadcast the following appeal to the women of America:—
"The Providence of God has brought our nation to a crisis of most solemn interest.
"A question is now pending in our national legislature which is most vitally to affect the temporal and eternal interests, not only of ourselves, but of our children and our children's children for ages yet unborn. Through our nation it is to affect the interests of liberty and Christianity throughout the world.
"Of the woes, the injustice, and the misery of slavery it is not needful to speak. There is but one feeling and one opinion upon this subject among us all. I do not think there is a mother who clasps her child to her breast who would ever be made to feel it right that that child should be a slave, not a mother among us who would not rather lay that child in its grave.
"Nor can I believe that there is a woman so unchristian as to think it right to inflict upon her neighbor's child what she would consider worse than death were it inflicted upon her own. I do not believe there is a wife who would think it right that her husband should be sold to a trader to be worked all his life without wages or a recognition of rights. I do not believe there is a husband who would consider it right that his wife should be regarded by law the property of another man. I do not believe there is a father or mother who would consider it right were they forbidden by law to teach their children to read. I do not believe there is a brother who would think it right to have his sister held as property, with no legal defense for her personal honor, by any man living.
"All this is inherent in slavery. It is not the abuse of slavery, but its legal nature. And there is not a woman in the United States, where the question is fairly put to her, who thinks these things are right.
"But though our hearts have bled over this wrong, there have been many things tending to fetter our hands, to perplex our efforts, and to silence our voice. We have been told that to speak of it was an invasion of the rights of states. We have heard of promises and compacts, and the natural expression of feeling has in many cases been repressed by an appeal to those honorable sentiments which respect the keeping of engagements.
"But a time has now come when the subject is arising under quite a different aspect.
"The question is not now, shall the wrongs of slavery exist as they have within their own territories, but shall we permit them to be extended all over the free territories of the United States? Shall the woes and the miseries of slavery be extended over a region of fair, free, unoccupied territory nearly equal in extent to the whole of the free States?
"Nor is this all! This is not the last thing that is expected or intended. Should this movement be submitted to in silence, should the North consent to this solemn breach of contract on the part of the South, there yet remains one more step to be apprehended, namely, the legalizing of slavery throughout the free States. By a decision of the supreme court in the Lemmon case, it may be declared lawful for slave property to be held in the Northern States. Should this come to pass, it is no more improbable that there may be four years hence slave depots in New York city than it was four years ago that the South would propose a repeal of the Missouri Compromise.
"Women of the free States! the question is not shall we remonstrate with slavery on its own soil, but are we willing to receive slavery into the free States and Territories of this Union? Shall the whole power of these United States go into the hands of slavery? Shall every State in the Union be thrown open to slavery? This is the possible result and issue of the question now pending. This is the fearful crisis at which we stand.
"And now you ask, What can the women of a country do?
"O women of the free States! what did your brave mothers do in the days of our Revolution? Did not liberty in those days feel the strong impulse of woman's heart?
"There was never a great interest agitating a community where woman's influence was not felt for good or for evil. At the time when the abolition of the slave-trade was convulsing England, women contributed more than any other laborers to that great triumph of humanity. The women of England refused to receive into their houses the sugar raised by slaves. Seventy thousand families thus refused the use of sugar in testimony of their abhorrence of the manner in which it was produced. At that time women were unwearied in going from house to house distributing books and tracts upon the subject, and presenting it clearly and forcibly to thousands of families who would otherwise have disregarded it.
"The women all over England were associated in corresponding circles for prayer and labor. Petitions to the government were prepared and signed by women of every station in all parts of the kingdom.
"Women of America! we do not know with what thrilling earnestness the hopes and the eyes of the world are fastened upon our country, and how intense is the desire that we should take a stand for universal liberty. When I was in England, although I distinctly stated that the raising of money was no part of my object there, it was actually forced upon me by those who could not resist the impulse to do something for this great cause. Nor did it come from the well-to-do alone; but hundreds of most affecting letters were received from poor working men and women, who inclosed small sums in postage-stamps to be devoted to freeing slaves.
"Nor is this deep feeling confined to England alone. I found it in France, Switzerland, and Germany. Why do foreign lands regard us with this intensity of interest? Is it not because the whole world looks hopefully toward America as a nation especially raised by God to advance the cause of human liberty and religion?
"There has been a universal expectation that the next step taken by America would surely be one that should have a tendency to right this great wrong. Those who are struggling for civil and religious liberty in Europe speak this word 'slavery' in sad whispers, as one names a fault of a revered friend. They can scarce believe the advertisements in American papers of slave sales of men, women, and children, traded like cattle. Scarcely can they trust their eyes when they read the laws of the slave States, and the decisions of their courts. The advocates of despotism hold these things up to them and say: 'See what comes of republican liberty!' Hitherto the answer has been, 'America is more than half free, and she certainly will in time repudiate slavery altogether.'
"But what can they say now if, just as the great struggle for human rights is commencing throughout Europe, America opens all her Territories to the most unmitigated despotism?
"While all the nations of Europe are thus moved on the subject of American slavery, shall we alone remain unmoved? Shall we, the wives, mothers, and sisters of America, remain content with inaction in such a crisis as this?
"The first duty of every American woman at this time is to thoroughly understand the subject for herself, and to feel that she is bound to use her influence for the right. Then they can obtain signatures to petitions to our national legislature. They can spread information upon this vital topic throughout their neighborhoods. They can employ lecturers to lay the subject before the people. They can circulate the speeches of their members of Congress that bear upon the subject, and in many other ways they can secure to all a full understanding of the present position of our country.
"Above all, it seems to be necessary and desirable that we should make this subject a matter of earnest prayer. A conflict is now begun between the forces of liberty and despotism throughout the whole world. We who are Christians, and believe in the sure word of prophecy, know that fearful convulsions and over-turnings are predicted before the coming of Him who is to rule the earth in righteousness. How important, then, in this crisis, that all who believe in prayer should retreat beneath the shadow of the Almighty!
"It is a melancholy but unavoidable result of such great encounters of principle that they tend to degenerate into sectional and personal bitterness. It is this liability that forms one of the most solemn and affecting features of the crisis now presented. We are on the eve of a conflict which will try men's souls, and strain to the utmost the bonds of brotherly union that bind this nation together.
"Let us, then, pray that in the agitation of this question between the North and the South the war of principle may not become a mere sectional conflict, degenerating into the encounter of physical force. Let us raise our hearts to Him who has the power to restrain the wrath of men, that He will avert the consequences that our sins as a nation so justly deserve.
"There are many noble minds in the South who do not participate in the machinations of their political leaders, and whose sense of honor and justice is outraged by this proposition equally with our own. While, then, we seek to sustain the cause of freedom unwaveringly, let us also hold it to be our office as true women to moderate the acrimony of political contest, remembering that the slaveholder and the slave are alike our brethren, whom the law of God commands us to love as ourselves.
"For the sake, then, of our dear children, for the sake of our common country, for the sake of outraged and struggling liberty throughout the world, let every woman of America now do her duty."
At this same time Mrs. Stowe found herself engaged in an active correspondence with William Lloyd Garrison, much of which appeared in the columns of his paper, the "Liberator." Late in 1853 she writes to him:—
"In regard to you, your paper, and in some measure your party, I am in an honest embarrassment. I sympathize with you fully in many of your positions. Others I consider erroneous, hurtful to liberty and the progress of humanity. Nevertheless, I believe you and those who support them to be honest and conscientious in your course and opinions. What I fear is that your paper will take from poor Uncle Tom his Bible, and give him nothing in its place."
To this Mr. Garrison answers: "I do not understand why the imputation is thrown upon the 'Liberator' as tending to rob Uncle Tom of his Bible. I know of no writer in its pages who wishes to deprive him of it, or of any comfort he may derive from it. It is for him to place whatever estimate he can upon it, and for you and me to do the same; but for neither of us to accept any more of it than we sincerely believe to be in accordance with reason, truth, and eternal right. How much of it is true and obligatory, each one can determine only for himself; for on Protestant ground there is no room for papal infallibility. All Christendom professes to believe in the inspiration of the volume, and at the same time all Christendom is by the ears as to its real teachings. Surely you would not have me disloyal to my conscience. How do you prove that you are not trammeled by educational or traditional notions as to the entire sanctity of the book? Indeed, it seems to me very evident that you are not free in spirit, in view of the apprehension and sorrow you feel because you find your conceptions of the Bible controverted in the 'Liberator,' else why such disquietude of mind? 'Thrice is he armed who hath his quarrel just.'"
In answer to this Mrs. Stowe writes:—
I did not reply to your letter immediately, because I did not wish to speak on so important a subject unadvisedly, or without proper thought and reflection. The greater the interest involved in a truth the more careful, self-distrustful, and patient should be the inquiry.
I would not attack the faith of a heathen without being sure I had a better one to put in its place, because, such as it is, it is better than nothing. I notice in Mr. Parker's sermons a very eloquent passage on the uses and influences of the Bible. He considers it to embody absolute and perfect religion, and that no better mode for securing present and eternal happiness can be found than in the obedience to certain religious precepts therein recorded. He would have it read and circulated, and considers it, as I infer, a Christian duty to send it to the heathen, the slave, etc. I presume you agree with him.
These things being supposed about the Bible would certainly make it appear that, if any man deems it his duty to lessen its standing in the eyes of the community, he ought at least to do so in a cautious and reverential spirit, with humility and prayer.
My objection to the mode in which these things are handled in the "Liberator" is that the general tone and spirit seem to me the reverse of this. If your paper circulated only among those of disciplined and cultivated minds, skilled to separate truth from falsehood, knowing where to go for evidence and how to satisfy the doubts you raise, I should feel less regret. But your name and benevolent labors have given your paper a circulation among the poor and lowly. They have no means of investigating, no habits of reasoning. The Bible, as they at present understand it, is doing them great good, and is a blessing to them and their families. The whole tendency of your mode of proceeding is to lessen their respect and reverence for the Bible, without giving them anything in its place.
I have no fear of discussion as to its final results on the Bible; my only regrets are for those human beings whose present and immortal interests I think compromised by this manner of discussion. Discussion of the evidence of the authenticity and inspiration of the Bible and of all theology will come more and more, and I rejoice that they will. But I think they must come, as all successful inquiries into truth must, in a calm, thoughtful, and humble spirit; not with bold assertions, hasty generalizations, or passionate appeals.
I appreciate your good qualities none the less though you differ with me on this point. I believe you to be honest and sincere. In Mr. Parker's works I have found much to increase my respect and esteem for him as a man. He comes to results, it is true, to which it would be death and utter despair for me to arrive at. Did I believe as he does about the Bible and Jesus, I were of all creatures most miserable, because I could not love God. I could find no God to love. I would far rather never have been born.
As to you, my dear friend, you must own that my frankness to you is the best expression of my confidence in your honor and nobleness. Did I not believe that "an excellent spirit" is in you, I would not take the trouble to write all this. If in any points in this note I appear to have misapprehended or done you injustice, I hope you will candidly let me know where and how.
Truly your friend,
H. B. STOWE.
In addition to these letters the following extracts from a subsequent letter to Mr. Garrison are given to show in what respect their fields of labor differed, and to present an idea of what Mrs. Stowe was doing for the cause of freedom besides writing against slavery:—
ANDOVER, MASS., February 18,1854.
DEAR FRIEND,—I see and sincerely rejoice in the result of your lecture in New York. I am increasingly anxious that all who hate slavery be united, if not in form, at least in fact,—a unity in difference. Our field lies in the church, and as yet I differ from you as to what may be done and hoped there. Brother Edward (Beecher) has written a sermon that goes to the very root of the decline of moral feeling in the church. As soon as it can be got ready for the press I shall have it printed, and shall send a copy to every minister in the country.
Our lectures have been somewhat embarrassed by a pressure of new business brought upon us by the urgency of the Kansas-Nebraska question. Since we began, however, brother Edward has devoted his whole time to visiting, consultation, and efforts the result of which will shortly be given to the public. We are trying to secure a universal arousing of the pulpit.
Dr. Bacon's letter is noble. You must think so. It has been sent to every member of Congress. Dr. Kirk's sermon is an advance, and his congregation warmly seconded it. Now, my good friend, be willing to see that the church is better than you have thought it. Be not unwilling to see some good symptoms, and hope that even those who see not at all at first will gain as they go on. I am acting on the conviction that you love the cause better than self. If anything can be done now advantageously by the aid of money, let me know. God has given me some power in this way, though I am too feeble to do much otherwise.
Yours for the cause,
H. B. STOWE.
Although the demand was very great upon Mrs. Stowe for magazine and newspaper articles, many of which she managed to write in 1854-55, she had in her mind at this time a new book which should be in many respects the complement of "Uncle Tom's Cabin." In preparing her Key to the latter work, she had collected much new material. In 1855, therefore, and during the spring of 1856, she found time to weave these hitherto unused facts into the story of "Dred." In her preface to the English edition of this book she writes:—
"The author's object in this book is to show the general effect of slavery on society; the various social disadvantages which it brings, even to its most favored advocates; the shiftlessness and misery and backward tendency of all the economical arrangements of slave States; the retrograding of good families into poverty; the deterioration of land; the worse demoralization of all classes, from the aristocratic, tyrannical planter to the oppressed and poor white, which is the result of the introduction of slave labor.
"It is also an object to display the corruption of Christianity which arises from the same source; a corruption that has gradually lowered the standard of the church, North and South, and been productive of more infidelity than the works of all the encyclopaedists put together."
The story of "Dred" was suggested by the famous negro insurrection, led by Nat Turner, in Eastern Virginia in 1831. In this affair one of the principal participators was named "Dred." An interesting incident connected with the writing of "Dred" is vividly remembered by Mrs. Stowe's daughters.
One sultry summer night there arose a terrific thunder-storm, with continuous flashes of lightning and incessant rumbling and muttering of thunder, every now and then breaking out into sharp, crashing reports followed by torrents of rain.
The two young girls, trembling with fear, groped their way down-stairs to their mother's room, and on entering found her lying quietly in bed awake, and calmly watching the storm from the windows, the shades being up. She expressed no surprise on seeing them, but said that she had not been herself in the least frightened, though intensely interested in watching the storm. "I have been writing a description of a thunder-storm for my book, and I am watching to see if I need to correct it in any particular." Our readers will be interested to know that she had so well described a storm from memory that even this vivid object-lesson brought with it no new suggestions. This scene is to be found in the twenty-fourth chapter of "Dred,"—"Life in the Swamps."
"The day had been sultry and it was now an hour or two past midnight, when a thunder-storm, which had long been gathering and muttering in the distant sky, began to develop its forces. A low, shivering sigh crept through the woods, and swayed in weird whistlings the tops of the pines; and sharp arrows of lightning came glittering down among the branches, as if sent from the bow of some warlike angel. An army of heavy clouds swept in a moment across the moon; then came a broad, dazzling, blinding sheet of flame."
What particularly impressed Mrs. Stowe's daughters at the time was their mother's perfect calmness, and the minute study of the storm. She was on the alert to detect anything which might lead her to correct her description.
Of this new story Charles Summer wrote from the senate chamber:—
MY DEAR MRS. STOWE,—I am rejoiced to learn, from your excellent sister here, that you are occupied with another tale exposing slavery. I feel that it will act directly upon pending questions, and help us in our struggle for Kansas, and also to overthrow the slave-oligarchy in the coming Presidential election. We need your help at once in our struggle.
Ever sincerely yours,
Having finished this second great story of slavery, in the early summer of 1856 Mrs. Stowe decided to visit Europe again, in search of a much-needed rest. She also found it necessary to do so in order to secure the English right to her book, which she had failed to do on "Uncle Tom's Cabin."
Just before sailing she received the following touching letter from her life-long friend, Georgiana May. It is the last one of a series that extended without interruption over a period of thirty years, and as such has been carefully cherished:—
OCEAN HOUSE, GROTON POINT, July 26, 1856.
DEAR HATTIE,—Very likely it is too late for me to come with my modest knock to your study door, and ask to be taken in for a moment, but I do so want to bless you before you go, and I have not been well enough to write until to-day. It seems just as if I could not let you go till I have seen once more your face in the flesh, for great uncertainties hang over my future. One thing, however, is certain: whichever of us two gets first to the farther shore of the great ocean between us and the unseen will be pretty sure to be at hand to welcome the other. It is not poetry, but solemn verity between us that we shall meet again.
But there is nothing morbid or morbific going into these few lines. I have made "Old Tiff's" acquaintance. He is a verity,—will stand up with Uncle Tom and Topsy, pieces of negro property you will be guilty of holding after you are dead. Very likely your children may be selling them.
Hattie, I rejoice over this completed work. Another work for God and your generation. I am glad that you have come out of it alive, that you have pleasure in prospect, that you "walk at liberty" and have done with "fits of languishing." Perhaps some day I shall be set free, but the prospect does not look promising, except as I have full faith that "the Good Man above is looking on, and will bring it all round right." Still "heart and flesh" both "fail me." He will be the "strength of my heart," and I never seem to doubt "my portion forever."
If I never speak to you again, this is the farewell utterance.
Mrs. Stowe was accompanied on this second trip to Europe by her husband, her two eldest daughters, her son Henry, and her sister Mary (Mrs. Perkins). It was a pleasant summer voyage, and was safely accomplished without special incident.
SECOND VISIT TO ENGLAND.—A GLIMPSE AT THE QUEEN.—THE DUKE OF ARGYLL AND INVERARY.—EARLY CORRESPONDENCE WITH LADY BYRON.—DUNROBIN CASTLE AND ITS INMATES.—A VISIT TO STOKE PARK.—LORD DUFFERIN.—CHARLES KINGSLEY AT HOME.—PARIS REVISITED.—MADAME MOHL'S RECEPTIONS.
After reaching England, about the middle of August, 1856, Mrs. Stowe and her husband spent some days in London completing arrangements to have an English edition of "Dred" published by Sampson Low & Co. Professor Stowe's duties in America being very pressing, he had intended returning at once, but was detained for a short time, as will be seen in the following letter written by him from Glasgow, August 29, to a friend in America:—
DEAR FRIEND,—I finished my business in London on Wednesday, and intended to return by the Liverpool steamer of to-morrow, but find that every berth on that line is engaged until the 3d of October. We therefore came here yesterday, and I shall take passage in the steamer New York from this port next Tuesday. We have received a special invitation to visit Inverary Castle, the seat of the Duke of Argyll, and yesterday we had just the very pleasantest little interview with the Queen that ever was. None of the formal, drawing-room, breathless receptions, but just an accidental, done-on-purpose meeting at a railway station, while on our way to Scotland.
The Queen seemed really delighted to see my wife, and remarkably glad to see me for her sake. She pointed us out to Prince Albert, who made two most gracious bows to my wife and two to me, while the four royal children stared their big blue eyes almost out looking at the little authoress of "Uncle Tom's Cabin." Colonel Grey handed the Queen, with my wife's compliments, a copy of the new book ("Dred"). She took one volume herself and handed the other to Prince Albert, and they were soon both very busy reading. She is a real nice little body with exceedingly pleasant, kindly manners.