I expect to be in Natick the last week in September. God bless you all.
C. E. STOWE.
After her husband's departure for the United States, Mrs. Stowe, with her son Henry, her two eldest daughters, and her sister Mary (Mrs. Perkins), accepted the Duke of Argyll's invitation to visit the Highlands. Of this visit we catch a pleasant glimpse from a letter written to Professor Stowe during its continuance, which is as follows:—
INVERARY CASTLE, September 6, 1856.
MY DEAR HUSBAND,—We have been now a week in this delicious place, enjoying the finest skies and scenery, the utmost of kind hospitality. From Loch Goil we took the coach for Inverary, a beautiful drive of about two hours. We had seats on the outside, and the driver John, like some of the White Mountain guides, was full of song and story, and local tradition. He spoke Scotch and Gaelic, recited ballads, and sung songs with great gusto. Mary and the girls stopped in a little inn at St. Catherine's, on the shores of Loch Fine, while Henry and I took steamboat for Inverary, where we found the duchess waiting in a carriage for us, with Lady Emma Campbell. . . .
The common routine of the day here is as follows: We rise about half past eight. About half past nine we all meet in the dining-hall, where the servants are standing in a line down one side, and a row of chairs for guests and visitors occupies the other. The duchess with her nine children, a perfectly beautiful little flock, sit together. The duke reads the Bible and a prayer, and pronounces the benediction. After that, breakfast is served,—a very hearty, informal, cheerful meal,— and after that come walks, or drives, or fishing parties, till lunch time, and then more drives, or anything else: everybody, in short, doing what he likes till half past seven, which is the dinner hour. After that we have coffee and tea in the evening.
The first morning, the duke took me to see his mine of nickel silver. We had a long and beautiful drive, and talked about everything in literature, religion, morals, and the temperance movement, about which last he is in some state of doubt and uncertainty, not inclining, I think, to have it pressed yet, though feeling there is need of doing something.
If "Dred" has as good a sale in America as it is likely to have in England, we shall do well. There is such a demand that they had to placard the shop windows in Glasgow with,—
"To prevent disappointment, 'Dred' Not to be had till," etc.
Everybody is after it, and the prospect is of an enormous sale.
God, to whom I prayed night and day while I was writing the book, has heard me, and given us of worldly goods more than I asked. I feel, therefore, a desire to "walk softly," and inquire, for what has He so trusted us?
Every day I am more charmed with the duke and duchess; they are simple-hearted, frank, natural, full of feeling, of piety, and good sense. They certainly are, apart from any considerations of rank or position, most interesting and noble people. The duke laughed heartily at many things I told him of our Andover theological tactics, of your preaching, etc.; but I think he is a sincere, earnest Christian.
Our American politics form the daily topic of interest. The late movements in Congress are discussed: with great warmth, and every morning the papers are watched for new details.
I must stop now, as it is late and we are to leave here early to- morrow morning. We are going to Staffa, lona, the Pass of Glencoe, and finally through the Caledonian Canal up to Dunrobin Castle, where a large party of all sorts of interesting people are gathered around the Duchess of Sutherland.
From Dunrobin Castle one of his daughters writes to Professor Stowe: "We spent five most delightful days at Inverary, and were so sorry you could not be there with us. From there we went to Oban, and spent several days sight-seeing, finally reaching Inverness by way of the Caledonian Canal. Here, to our surprise, we found our rooms at the hotel all prepared for us. The next morning we left by post for Dunrobin, which is fifty-nine miles from Inverness. At the borders of the duke's estate we found a delightfully comfortable carriage awaiting us, and before we had gone much farther the postilion announced that the duchess was coming to meet us. Sure enough, as we looked up the road we saw a fine cavalcade approaching. It consisted of a splendid coach-and-four (in which sat the duchess) with liveried postilions, and a number of outriders, one of whom rode in front to clear the way. The duchess seemed perfectly delighted to see mamma, and taking her into her own carriage dashed off towards the castle, we following on behind."
At Dunrobin Mrs. Stowe found awaiting her the following note from her friend, Lady Byron:—
LONDON, September 10, 1856.
Your book, dear Mrs. Stowe, is of the "little leaven" kind, and must prove a great moral force,—perhaps not manifestly so much as secretly, and yet I can hardly conceive so much power without immediate and sensible effects; only there will be a strong disposition to resist on the part of all the hollow-hearted professors of religion, whose heathenisms you so unsparingly expose. They have a class feeling like others. To the young, and to those who do not reflect much on what is offered to their belief, you will do great good by showing how spiritual food is adulterated. The Bread from Heaven is in the same case as baker's bread. I feel that one perusal is not enough. It is a "mine," to use your own simile. If there is truth in what I heard Lord Byron say, that works of fiction lived only by the amount of truth which they contained, your story is sure of long life. . . .
I know now, more than before, how to value communion with you.
With kind regards to your family,
A. T. NOEL BYRON.
From this pleasant abiding-place Mrs. Stowe writes to her husband:—
DUNROBIN CASTLE, September 15, 1856.
MY DEAR HUSBAND,—Everything here is like a fairy story. The place is beautiful! It is the most perfect combination of architectural and poetic romance, with home comfort. The people, too, are charming. We have here Mr. Labouchere, a cabinet minister, and Lady Mary his wife,— I like him very much, and her, too,—Kingsley's brother, a very entertaining man, and to-morrow Lord Ellsmere is expected. I wish you could be here, for I am sure you would like it. Life is so quiet and sincere and friendly, that you would feel more as if you had come at the hearts of these people than in London.
The Sutherland estate looks like a garden. We stopped at the town of Frain, four miles before we reached Sutherlandshire, where a crowd of well-to-do, nice-looking people gathered around the carriage, and as we drove off gave three cheers. This was better than I expected, and looks well for their opinion of my views.
"Dred" is selling over here wonderfully. Low says, with all the means at his command, he has not been able to meet the demand. He sold fifty thousand in two weeks, and probably will sell as many more.
I am showered with letters, private and printed, in which the only difficulty is to know what the writers would be at. I see evidently happiness and prosperity all through the line of this estate. I see the duke giving his thought and time, and spending the whole income of this estate in improvements upon it. I see the duke and duchess evidently beloved wherever they move. I see them most amiable, most Christian, most considerate to everybody. The writers of the letters admit the goodness of the duke, but denounce the system, and beg me to observe its effects for myself. I do observe that, compared with any other part of the Highlands, Sutherland is a garden. I observe well- clothed people, thriving lands, healthy children, fine school-houses, and all that.
Henry was invited to the tenants' dinner, where he excited much amusement by pledging every toast in fair water, as he has done invariably on all occasions since he has been here.
The duchess, last night, showed me her copy of "Dred," in which she has marked what most struck or pleased her. I begged it, and am going to send it to you. She said to me this morning at breakfast, "The Queen says that she began 'Dred' the very minute she got it, and is deeply interested in it."
She bought a copy of Lowell's poems, and begged me to mark the best ones for her; so if you see him, tell him that we have been reading him together. She is, taking her all in all, one of the noblest- appointed women I ever saw; real old, genuine English, such as one reads of in history; full of nobility, courage, tenderness, and zeal. It does me good to hear her read prayers daily, as she does, in the midst of her servants and guests, with a manner full of grand and noble feeling.
Thursday Morning, September 25. We were obliged to get up at half past five the morning we left Dunrobin, an effort when one doesn't go to bed till one o'clock. We found breakfast laid for us in the library, and before we had quite finished the duchess came in. Our starting off was quite an imposing sight. First came the duke's landau, in which were Mary, the duke, and myself; then a carriage in which were Eliza and Hatty, and finally the carriage which we had hired, with Henry, our baggage, and Mr. Jackson (the duke's secretary). The gardener sent a fresh bouquet for each of us, and there was such a leave-taking, as if we were old and dear friends. We did really love them, and had no doubt of their love for us.
The duke rode with us as far as Dornach, where he showed us the cathedral beneath which his ancestors are buried, and where is a statue of his father, similar to one the tenants have erected on top of the highest hill in the neighborhood.
We also saw the prison, which had but two inmates, and the old castle. Here the duke took leave of us, and taking our own carriage we crossed the ferry and continued on our way. After a very bad night's rest at Inverness, in consequence of the town's being so full of people attending some Highland games that we could have no places at the hotel, and after a weary ride in the rain, we came into Aberdeen Friday night.
To-morrow we go on to Edinburgh, where I hope to meet a letter from you. The last I heard from Low, he had sold sixty thousand of "Dred," and it was still selling well. I have not yet heard from America how it goes. The critics scold, and whiffle, and dispute about it, but on the whole it is a success, so the "Times" says, with much coughing, hemming, and standing first on one foot and then on the other. If the "Times" were sure we should beat in the next election, "Dred" would go up in the scale; but as long as there is that uncertainty, it has first one line of praise, and then one of blame.
Henry Stowe returned to America in October to enter Dartmouth College, while the rest of the party pursued their way southward, as will be seen by the following letters:—
CITY OF YORK, October 10, 1856.
DEAR HUSBAND,—Henry will tell you all about our journey, and at present I have but little time for details. I received your first letter with great joy, relief, and gratitude, first to God for restoring your health and strength, and then to you for so good, long, and refreshing a letter.
Henry, I hope, comes home with a serious determination to do well and be a comfort. Seldom has a young man seen what he has in this journey, or made more valuable friends.
Since we left Aberdeen, from which place my last was mailed, we have visited in Edinburgh with abounding delight; thence yesterday to Newcastle. Last night attended service in Durham Cathedral, and after that came to York, whence we send Henry to Liverpool.
I send you letters, etc., by him. One hundred thousand copies of "Dred." sold in four weeks! After that who cares what critics say? Its success in England has been complete, so far as sale is concerned. It is very bitterly attacked, both from a literary and a religious point of view. The "Record" is down upon it with a cartload of solemnity; the "Athenaeum" with waspish spite; the "Edinburgh" goes out of its way to say that the author knows nothing of the society she describes; but yet it goes everywhere, is read everywhere, and Mr. Low says that he puts the hundred and twenty-fifth thousand to press confidently. The fact that so many good judges like it better than "Uncle Tom" is success enough.
In my journal to Henry, which you may look for next week, you will learn how I have been very near the Queen, and formed acquaintance with divers of her lords and ladies, and heard all she has said about "Dred;" how she prefers it to "Uncle Tom," how she inquired for you, and other matters.
Till then, I am, as ever, your affectionate wife,
H. B. STOWE.
After leaving York, Mrs. Stowe and her party spent a day or two at Carlton Rectory, on the edge of Sherwood Forest, in which they enjoyed a most delightful picnic. From there they were to travel to London by way of Warwick and Oxford, and of this journey Mrs. Stowe writes as follows to her son Henry:—
"The next morning we were induced to send our things to London, being assured by Mr. G. that he would dispatch them immediately with some things of his own that were going, and that they should certainly await us upon our arrival. In one respect it was well for us that we thus rid ourselves of the trouble of looking after them, for I never saw such blind, confusing arrangements as these English railroads have.
"When we were set down at the place where we were to change for Warwick, we were informed that probably the train had gone. At any rate it could only be found on the other side of the station. You might naturally think we had nothing to do but walk across to the other side. No, indeed! We had to ascend a flight of stairs, go through a sort of tubular bridge, and down another pair of stairs. When we got there the guard said the train was just about to start, and yet the ticket office was closed. We tried the door in vain. 'You must hurry,' said the guard. 'How can we?' said I, 'when we can't get tickets.' He went and thumped, and at last roused the dormant intelligence inside. We got our tickets, ran for dear life, got in, and then waited ten minutes! Arrived at Warwick we had a very charming time, and after seeing all there was to see we took cars for Oxford.
"The next day we tried to see Oxford. You can have no idea of it. Call it a college! it is a city, of colleges,—a mountain of museums, colleges, halls, courts, parks, chapels, lecture-rooms. Out of twenty- four colleges we saw only three. We saw enough, however, to show us that to explore the colleges of Oxford would take a week. Then we came away, and about eleven o'clock at night found ourselves in London. It was dripping and raining here, for all the world, just as it did when we left; but we found a cosy little parlor, papered with cheerful crimson paper, lighted by a coal-fire, a neat little supper laid out, and the Misses Low waiting for us. Wasn't it nice?
"We are expecting our baggage to-night. Called at Sampson Low's store to-day and found it full everywhere of red 'Dreds.'"
Upon reaching London Mrs. Stowe found the following note from Lady Byron awaiting her:—
OXFORD HOUSE, October 15, 1856.
DEAR MRS. STOWE,—The newspapers represent you as returning to London, but I cannot wait for the chance, slender I fear, of seeing you there, for I wish to consult you on a point admitting but of little delay. Feeling that the sufferers in Kansas have a claim not only to sympathy, but to the expression of it, I wish to send them a donation. It is, however, necessary to know what is the best application of money and what the safest channel. Presuming that you will approve the object, I ask you to tell me. Perhaps you would undertake the transmission of my 50. My present residence, two miles beyond Richmond, is opposite. I have watched for instructions of your course with warm interest. The sale of your book will go on increasing. It is beginning to be understood.
Believe me, with kind regards to your daughters,
Your faithful and affectionate
A. T. NOEL BYRON.
To this note the following answer was promptly returned:—
GROVE TERRACE, KENTISH TOWN, October 16,1856.
DEAR LADY BYRON,—How glad I was to see your handwriting once more! how more than glad I should be to see you! I do long to see you. I have so much to say,—so much to ask, and need to be refreshed with a sense of a congenial and sympathetic soul.
Thank you, my dear friend, for your sympathy with our poor sufferers in Kansas. May God bless you for it! By doing this you will step to my side; perhaps you may share something of that abuse which they who "know, not what they do" heap upon all who so feel for the right. I assure you, dear friend, I am not insensible to the fiery darts which thus fly around me. . . .
Direct as usual to my publishers, and believe me, as ever, with all my heart,
H. B. S.
Having dispatched this note, Mrs. Stowe wrote to her husband concerning their surroundings and plans as follows:—
"Friday, 16th. Confusion in the camp! no baggage come, nobody knows why; running to stations, inquiries, messages, and no baggage. Meanwhile we have not even a clean collar, nothing but very soiled traveling dresses; while Lady Mary Labouchere writes that her carriage will wait for us at Slough Station this afternoon, and we must be off at two. What's to be done? Luckily I did not carry all my dresses to Dunrobin; so I, of all the party, have a dress that can be worn. We go out and buy collars and handkerchiefs, and two o'clock beholds us at the station house.
"Stoke Park. I arrived here alone, the baggage not having yet been heard from. Mr. G., being found in London, confessed that he delayed sending it by the proper train. In short, Mr. G. is what is called an easy man, and one whose easiness makes everybody else un easy. So because he was easy and thought it was no great matter, and things would turn out well enough, without any great care, we have had all this discomfort.
"I arrived alone at the Slough Station and found Lady Mary's carriage waiting. Away we drove through a beautiful park full of deer, who were so tame as to stand and look at us as we passed. The house is in the Italian style, with a dome on top, and wide terraces with stone balustrades around it.
"Lady Mary met me at the door, and seemed quite concerned to learn of our ill-fortune. We went through a splendid suite of rooms to a drawing-room, where a little tea-table was standing.
"After tea Lady Mary showed me my room. It had that delightful, homelike air of repose and comfort they succeed so well in giving to rooms here. There was a cheerful fire burning, an arm-chair drawn up beside it, a sofa on the other side with a neatly arranged sofa-table on which were writing materials. One of the little girls had put a pot of pretty greenhouse moss in a silver basket on this table, and my toilet cushion was made with a place in the centre to hold a little vase of flowers. Here Lady Mary left me to rest before dressing for dinner. I sat down in an easy-chair before the fire, and formed hospitable resolutions as to how I would try to make rooms always look homelike and pleasant to tired guests. Then came the maid to know if I wanted hot water,—if I wanted anything,—and by and by it was time for dinner. Going down into the parlor I met Mr. Labouchere and we all went in to dinner. It was not quite as large a party as at Dunrobin, but much in the same way. No company, but several ladies who were all family connections.
"The following morning Lord Dufferin and Lord Alfred Paget, two gentlemen of the Queen's household, rode over from Windsor to lunch with us. They brought news of the goings-on there. Do you remember one night the Duchess of S. read us a letter from Lady Dufferin, describing the exploits of her son, who went yachting with Prince Napoleon up by Spitzbergen, and when Prince Napoleon and all the rest gave up and went back, still persevered and discovered a new island? Well, this was the same man. A thin, slender person, not at all the man you would fancy as a Mr. Great Heart,—lively, cheery, and conversational.
"Lord Alfred is also very pleasant.
"Lady Mary prevailed on Lord Dufferin to stay and drive with us after lunch, and we went over to Clifden, the duchess's villa, of which we saw the photograph at Dunrobin. For grace and beauty some of the rooms in this place exceed any I have yet seen in England.
"When we came back my first thought was whether Aunt Mary and the girls had come. Just as we were all going up to dress for dinner they appeared. Meanwhile, the Queen had sent over from Windsor for Lady Mary and her husband to dine with her that evening, and such invitations are understood as commands.
"So, although they themselves had invited four or five people to dinner, they had to go and leave us to entertain ourselves. Lady Mary was dressed very prettily in a flounced white silk dress with a pattern of roses woven round the bottom of each flounce, and looked very elegant. Mr. Labouchere wore breeches, with knee and shoe buckles sparkling with diamonds.
"They got home soon after we had left the drawing-room, as the Queen always retires at eleven. No late hours for her.
"The next day Lady Mary told me that the Queen had talked to her all about 'Dred,' and how she preferred it to 'Uncle Tom's Cabin,' how interested she was in Nina, how provoked when she died, and how she was angry that something dreadful did not happen to Tom Gordon. She inquired for papa, and the rest of the family, all of whom she seemed to be well informed about.
"The next morning we had Lord Dufferin again to breakfast. He is one of the most entertaining young men I have seen in England, full of real thought and noble feeling, and has a wide range of reading. He had read all our American literature, and was very flattering in his remarks on Hawthorne, Poe, and Longfellow. I find J. R. Lowell less known, however, than he deserves to be.
"Lord Dufferin says that his mother wrote him some verses on his coming of age, and that he built a tower for them and inscribed them on a brass plate. I recommend the example to you, Henry; make yourself the tower and your memory the brass plate.
"This morning came also, to call, Lady Augusta Bruce, Lord Elgin's daughter, one of the Duchess of Kent's ladies-in-waiting; a very excellent, sensible girl, who is a strong anti-slavery body.
"After lunch we drove over to Eton, and went in to see the provost's house. After this, as we were passing by Windsor the coachman suddenly stopped and said, 'The Queen is coming, my lady.' We stood still and the royal cortege passed. I only saw the Queen, who bowed graciously.
"Lady Mary stayed at our car door till it left the station, and handed in a beautiful bouquet as we parted. This is one of the loveliest visits I have made."
After filling a number of other pleasant engagements in England, among which was a visit in the family of Charles Kingsley, Mrs. Stowe and her party crossed the Channel and settled down for some months in Paris for the express purpose of studying French. From the French capital she writes to her husband in Andover as follows:—
PARIS, November 7, 1856.
MY DEAR HUSBAND,—On the 28th, when your last was written, I was at Charles Kingsley's. It seemed odd enough to Mary and me to find ourselves, long after dark, alone in a hack, driving towards the house of a man whom we never had seen (nor his wife either).
My heart fluttered as, after rumbling a long way through the dark, we turned into a yard. We knocked at a door and were met in the hall by a man who stammers a little in his speech, and whose inquiry, "Is this Mrs. Stowe?" was our first positive introduction. Ushered into a large, pleasant parlor lighted by a coal fire, which flickered on comfortable chairs, lounges, pictures, statuettes, and book-cases, we took a good view of him. He is tall, slender, with blue eyes, brown hair, and a hale, well-browned face, and somewhat loose-jointed withal. His wife is a real Spanish beauty.
How we did talk and go on for three days! I guess he is tired. I'm sure we were. He is a nervous, excitable being, and talks with head, shoulders, arms, and hands, while his hesitance makes it the harder. Of his theology I will say more some other time. He, also, has been through the great distress, the "Conflict of Ages," but has come out at a different end from Edward, and stands with John Foster, though with more positiveness than he.
He laughed a good deal at many stories I told him of father, and seemed delighted to hear about him. But he is, what I did not expect, a zealous Churchman; insists that the Church of England is the finest and broadest platform a man can stand on, and that the thirty-nine articles are the only ones he could subscribe to. I told him you thought them the best summary (of doctrine) you knew, which pleased him greatly.
Well, I got your letter to-night in Paris, at No. 19 Rue de Clichy, where you may as well direct your future letters.
We reached Paris about eleven o'clock last night and took a carriage for 17 Rue de Clichy, but when we got there, no ringing or pounding could rouse anybody. Finally, in despair, we remembered a card that had been handed into the cars by some hotel-runner, and finding it was of an English and French hotel, we drove there, and secured very comfortable accommodations. We did not get to bed until after two o'clock. The next morning I sent a messenger to find Mme. Borione, and discovered that we had mistaken the number, and should have gone to No. 19, which was the next door; so we took a carriage and soon found ourselves established here, where we have a nice parlor and two bedrooms.
There are twenty-one in the family, mostly Americans, like ourselves, come to learn to speak French. One of them is a tall, handsome, young English lady, Miss Durant, who is a sculptress, studying with Baron de Triqueti. She took me to his studio, and he immediately remarked that she ought to get me to sit. I said I would, "only my French lessons." "Oh," said he, smiling, "we will give you French lessons while you sit." So I go to-morrow morning.
As usual, my horrid pictures do me a service, and people seem relieved when they see me; think me even handsome "in a manner." Kingsley, in his relief, expressed as much to his wife, and as beauty has never been one of my strong points I am open to flattery upon it.
We had a most agreeable call from Arthur Helps before we left London. He, Kingsley, and all the good people are full of the deepest anxiety for our American affairs. They really do feel very deeply, seeing the peril so much plainer than we do in America.
Sunday night. I fear I have delayed your letter too long. The fact is, that of the ten days I have been here I have been laid up three with severe neuralgia, viz., toothache in the backbone, and since then have sat all day to be modeled for my bust.
We spent the other evening with Baron de Triqueti, the sculptor. He has an English wife, and a charming daughter about the age of our girls. Life in Paris is altogether more simple and natural than in England. They give you a plate of cake and a cup of tea in the most informal, social way,—the tea-kettle sings at the fire, and the son and daughter busy themselves gayly together making and handing tea. When tea was over, M. de Triqueti showed us a manuscript copy of the Gospels, written by his mother, to console herself in a season of great ill-health, and which he had illustrated all along with exquisite pen-drawings, resembling the most perfect line engravings. I can't describe the beauty, grace, delicacy, and fullness of devotional feeling in these people. He is one of the loveliest men I ever saw.
We have already three evenings in the week in which we can visit and meet friends if we choose, namely, at Madame Mohl's, Madame Lanziel's, and Madame Belloc's. All these salns are informal, social gatherings, with no fuss of refreshments, no nonsense of any kind. Just the cheeriest, heartiest, kindest little receptions you ever saw.
A kiss to dear little Charley. If he could see all the things that I see every day in the Tuileries and Champs Elyses, he would go wild. All Paris is a general whirligig out of doors, but indoors people seem steady, quiet, and sober as anybody.
November 30. This is Sunday evening, and a Sunday in Paris always puts me in mind of your story about somebody who said, "Bless you! they make such a noise that the Devil couldn't meditate." All the extra work and odd jobs of life are put into Sunday. Your washerwoman comes Sunday, with her innocent, good-humored face, and would be infinitely at a loss to know why she shouldn't. Your bonnet, cloak, shoes, and everything are sent home Sunday morning, and all the way to church there is such whirligiging and pirouetting along the boulevards as almost takes one's breath away. Today we went to the Oratoire to hear M. Grand Pierre. I could not understand much; my French ear is not quick enough to follow. I could only perceive that the subject was "La Charit," and that the speaker was fluent, graceful, and earnest, the audience serious and attentive.
Last night we were at Baron de Triqueti's again, with a party invited to celebrate the birthday of their eldest daughter, Blanche, a lovely girl of nineteen. There were some good ladies there who had come eighty leagues to meet me, and who were so delighted with my miserable French that it was quite encouraging. I believe I am getting over the sandbar at last, and conversation is beginning to come easy to me.
There were three French gentlemen who had just been reading "Dred" in English, and who were as excited and full of it as could be, and I talked with them to a degree that astonished myself. There is a review of "Dred" in the "Revue des Deux Mondes" which has long extracts from the book, and is written in a very appreciative and favorable spirit. Generally speaking, French critics seem to have a finer appreciation of my subtle shades of meaning than English. I am curious to hear what Professor Park has to say about it. There has been another review in "La Presse" equally favorable. All seem to see the truth about American slavery much plainer than people can who are in it. If American ministers and Christians could see through their sophistical spider-webs, with what wonder, pity, and contempt they would regard their own vacillating condition!
We visit once a week at Madame Mohl's, where we meet all sorts of agreeable people. Lady Elgin doesn't go into society now, having been struck with paralysis, but sits at home and receives her friends as usual. This notion of sitting always in the open air is one of her peculiarities.
I must say, life in Paris is arranged more sensibly than with us. Visiting involves no trouble in the feeding line. People don't go to eat. A cup of tea and plate of biscuit is all,—just enough to break up the stiffness.
It is wonderful that the people here do not seem to have got over "Uncle Tom" a bit. The impression seems fresh as if just published. How often have they said, That book has revived the Gospel among the poor of France; it has done more than all the books we have published put together. It has gone among the les ouvriers, among the poor of Faubourg St. Antoine, and nobody knows how many have been led to Christ by it. Is not this blessed, my dear husband? Is it not worth all the suffering of writing it?
I went the other evening to M. Grand Pierre's, where there were three rooms full of people, all as eager and loving as ever we met in England or Scotland. Oh, if Christians in Boston could only see the earnestness of feeling with which Christians here regard slavery, and their surprise and horror at the lukewarmness, to say the least, of our American church! About eleven o'clock we all joined in singing a hymn, then M. Grand Pierre made an address, in which I was named in the most affectionate and cordial manner. Then followed a beautiful prayer for our country, for America, on which hang so many of the hopes of Protestantism. One and all then came up, and there was great shaking of hands and much effusion.
Under date of December 28, Mrs. Perkins writes: "On Sunday we went with Mr. and Mrs. (Jacob) Abbott to the Htel des Invalides, and I think I was never more interested and affected. Three or four thousand old and disabled soldiers have here a beautiful and comfortable home. We went to the morning service. The church is very large, and the colors taken in battle are hung on the walls. Some of them are so old as to be moth-eaten. The service is performed, as near as possible, in imitation of the service before a battle. The drum beats the call to assemble, and the common soldiers march up and station themselves in the centre of the church, under the commander. All the services are regulated by the beat of the drum. Only one priest officiates, and soldiers are stationed around to protect him. The music is from a brass band, and is very magnificent.
"In the afternoon I went to vespers in the Madeleine, where the music was exquisite. They have two fine organs at opposite ends of the church. The 'Adeste Fidelis' was sung by a single voice, accompanied by the organ, and after every verse it was taken up by male voices and the other organ and repeated. The effect was wonderfully fine. I have always found in our small churches at home that the organ was too powerful and pained my head, but in these large cathedrals the effect is different. The volume of sound rolls over, full but soft, and I feel as though it must come from another sphere.
"In the evening Mr. and Mrs. Bunsen called. He is a son of Chevalier Bunsen, and she a niece of Elizabeth Fry,—very intelligent and agreeable people."
Under date of January 25, Mrs. Stowe writes from Paris:—"Here is a story for Charley. The boys in the Faubourg St. Antoine are the children of ouvriers, and every day their mothers give them two sous to buy a dinner. When they heard I was coming to the school, of their own accord they subscribed half their dinner money to give to me for the poor slaves. This five-franc piece I have now; I have bought it of the cause for five dollars, and am going to make a hole in it and hang it round Charley's neck as a medal.
"I have just completed arrangements for leaving the girls at a Protestant boarding-school while I go to Rome.
"We expect to start the 1st of February, and my direction will be, E. Bartholimeu, 108 Via Margaretta."
OLD SCENES REVISITED, 1856.
EN ROUTE TO ROME.—TRIALS OF TRAVEL.—A MIDNIGHT ARRIVAL AND AN INHOSPITABLE RECEPTION.—GLORIES OP THE ETERNAL CITY.—NAPLES AND VESUVIUS.—VENICE.—HOLY WEEK IN ROME.—RETURN TO ENGLAND.—LETTER FROM HARRIET MARTINEAU ON "DRED."—A WORD FROM MR. PRESCOTT ON "DRED."—FAREWELL TO LADY BYRON.
After leaving Paris Mrs. Stowe and her sister, Mrs. Perkins, traveled leisurely through the South of France toward Italy, stopping at Amiens, Lyons, and Marseilles. At this place they took steamer for Genoa, Leghorn, and Civita Vecchia. During their last night on shipboard they met with an accident, of which, and their subsequent trials in reaching Rome, Mrs. Stowe writes as follows:—
About eleven o'clock, as I had just tranquilly laid down in my berth, I was roused by a grating crash, accompanied by a shock that shook the whole ship, and followed by the sound of a general rush on deck, trampling, scuffling, and cries. I rushed to the door and saw all the gentlemen hurrying on their clothes and getting confusedly towards the stairway. I went back to Mary, and we put on our things in silence, and, as soon as we could, got into the upper saloon. It was an hour before we could learn anything certainly, except that we had run into another vessel. The fate of the Arctic came to us both, but we did not mention it to each other; indeed, a quieter, more silent company you would not often see. Had I had any confidence in the administration of the boat, it would have been better, but as I had not, I sat in momentary uncertainty. Had we then known, as we have since, the fate of a boat recently sunk in the Mediterranean by a similar carelessness, it would have increased our fears. By a singular chance an officer, whose wife and children were lost on board that boat, was on board ours, and happened to be on the forward part of the boat when the accident occurred. The captain and mate were both below; there was nobody looking out, and had not this officer himself called out to stop the boat, we should have struck her with such force as to have sunk us. As it was, we turned aside and the shock came on a paddle- wheel, which was broken by it, for when, after two hours' delay, we tried to start and had gone a little way, there was another crash and the paddle-wheel fell down. You may be sure we did little sleeping that night. It was an inexpressible desolation to think that we might never again see those we loved. No one knows how much one thinks, and how rapidly, in such hours.
In the Naples boat that was sunk a short time ago, the women perished in a dreadful way. The shock threw the chimney directly across the egress from below, so that they could not get on deck, and they were all drowned in the cabin.
We went limping along with one broken limb till the next day about eleven, when we reached Civita Vecchia, where there were two hours more of delay about passports. Then we, that is, Mary and I, and a Dr. Edison from Philadelphia, with his son Alfred, took a carriage to Rome, but they gave us a miserable thing that looked as if it had been made soon after the deluge. About eight o'clock at night, on a lonely stretch of road, the wheel came off. We got out, and our postilions stood silently regarding matters. None of us could speak Italian, they could not speak French; but the driver at last conveyed the idea that for five francs he could get a man to come and mend the wheel. The five francs were promised, and he untackled a horse and rode off. Mary and I walked up and down the dark, desolate road, occasionally reminding each other that we were on classic ground, and laughing at the oddity of our lonely, starlight promenade. After a while our driver came back, Tag, Rag, and Bobtail at his heels. I don't think I can do greater justice to Italian costumes than by this respectable form of words.
Then there was another consultation. They put a bit of rotten timber under to pry the carriage up. Fortunately, it did not break, as we all expected it would, till after the wheel was on. Then a new train of thought was suggested. How was it to be kept on? Evidently they had not thought far in that direction, for they had brought neither hammer nor nail, nor tool of any kind, and therefore they looked first at the wheel, then at each other, and then at us. The doctor now produced a little gimlet, with the help of which the broken fragments of the former linchpin were pushed out, and the way was cleared for a new one. Then they began knocking a fence to pieces to get out nails, but none could be found to fit. At last another ambassador was sent back for nails. While we were thus waiting, the diligence, in which many of our ship's company were jogging on to Rome, came up. They had plenty of room inside, and one of the party, seeing our distress, tried hard to make the driver stop, but he doggedly persisted in going on, and declared if anybody got down to help us he would leave him behind.
An interesting little episode here occurred. It was raining, and Mary and I proposed, as the wheel was now on, to take our seats. We had no sooner done so than the horses were taken with a sudden fit of animation and ran off with us in the most vivacious manner, Tag, Rag, and Co. shouting in the rear. Some heaps of stone a little in advance presented an interesting prospect by way of a terminus. However, the horses were luckily captured before the wheel was off again; and our ambassador being now returned, we were set right and again proceeded.
I must not forget to remark that at every post where we changed horses and drivers, we had a pitched battle with the driver for more money than we had been told was the regular rate, and the carriage was surrounded with a perfect mob of ragged, shock-headed, black-eyed people, whose words all ended in "ino," and who raved and ranted at us till finally we paid much more than we ought, to get rid of them.
At the gates of Rome the official, after looking at our passports, coolly told the doctor that if he had a mind to pay him five francs he could go in without further disturbance, but if not he would keep the baggage till morning. This form of statement had the recommendation of such precision and neatness of expression that we paid him forthwith, and into Rome we dashed at two o'clock in the morning of the 9th of February, 1857, in a drizzling rain.
We drove to the Hotel d'Angleterre,—it was full,—and ditto to four or five others, and in the last effort our refractory wheel came off again, and we all got out into the street. About a dozen lean, ragged "corbies," who are called porters and who are always lying in wait for travelers, pounced upon us. They took down our baggage in a twinkling, and putting it all into the street surrounded it, and chattered over it, while M. and I stood in the rain and received first lessons in Italian. How we did try to say something! but they couldn't talk anything but in "ino" as aforesaid. The doctor finally found a man who could speak a word or two of French, and leaving Mary, Alfred, and me to keep watch over our pile of trunks, he went off with him to apply for lodgings. I have heard many flowery accounts of first impressions of Rome. I must say ours was somewhat sombre.
A young man came by and addressed us in English. How cheering! We almost flew upon him. We begged him, at least, to lend us his Italian to call another carriage, and he did so. A carriage which was passing was luckily secured, and Mary and I, with all our store of boxes and little parcels, were placed in it out of the rain, at least. Here we sat while the doctor from time to time returned from his wanderings to tell us he could find no place. "Can it be," said I, "that we are to be obliged to spend a night in the streets?" What made it seem more odd was the knowledge that, could we only find them, we had friends enough in Rome who would be glad to entertain us. We began to speculate on lodgings. Who knows what we may get entrapped into? Alfred suggested stories he had read of beds placed on trap-doors,—of testers which screwed down on people and smothered them; and so, when at last the doctor announced lodgings found, we followed in rather an uncertain frame of mind.
We alighted at a dirty stone passage, smelling of cats and onions, damp, cold, and earthy, we went up stone stairways, and at last were ushered into two very decent chambers, where we might lay our heads. The "corbies" all followed us,—black-haired, black-browed, ragged, and clamorous as ever. They insisted that we should pay the pretty little sum of twenty francs, or four dollars, for bringing our trunks about twenty steps. The doctor modestly but firmly declined to be thus imposed upon, and then ensued a general "chatteration;" one and all fell into attitudes, and the "inos" and "issimos" rolled freely. "For pity's sake get them off," we said; so we made a truce for ten francs, but still they clamored, forced their way even into our bedroom, and were only repulsed by a loud and combined volley of "No, no, noes!" which we all set up at once, upon which they retreated.
Our hostess was a little French woman, and that reassured us. I examined the room, and seeing no trace of treacherous testers, or trap-doors, resolved to avail myself without fear of the invitation of a very clean, white bed, where I slept till morning without dreaming.
The next day we sent our cards to M. Bartholimeu, and before we had finished breakfast he was on the spot. We then learned that he had been watching the diligence office for over a week, and that he had the pleasant set of apartments we are now occupying all ready and waiting for us.
MY DEAR HUSBAND,—Every day is opening to me a new world of wonders here in Italy. I have been in the Catacombs, where I was shown many memorials of the primitive Christians, and to-day we are going to the Vatican. The weather is sunny and beautiful beyond measure, and flowers are springing in the fields on every side. Oh, my dear, how I do long to have you here to enjoy what you are so much better fitted to appreciate than I,—this wonderful combination of the past and the present, of what has been and what is!
Think of strolling leisurely through the Forum, of seeing the very stones that were laid in the time of the Republic, of rambling over the ruined Palace of the Csars, of walking under the Arch of Titus, of seeing the Dying Gladiator, and whole ranges of rooms filled with wonders of art, all in one morning! All this I did on Saturday, and only wanted you. You know so much more and could appreciate so much better. At the Palace of the Cesars, where the very dust is a mlange of exquisite marbles, I saw for the first time an acanthus growing, and picked my first leaf.
Our little mnage moves on prosperously; the doctor takes excellent care of us and we of him. One sees everybody here at Rome, John Bright, Mrs. Hemans' son, Mrs. Gaskell, etc., etc. Over five thousand English travelers are said to be here. Jacob Abbot and wife are coming. Rome is a world! Rome is an astonishment! Papal Rome is an enchantress! Old as she is, she is like Nion d'Enelos,—the young fall in love with her.
You will hear next from us at Naples.
H. B. S.
From Rome the travelers went to Naples, and after visiting Pompeii and Herculaneum made the ascent of Vesuvius, a graphic account of which is contained in a letter written at this time by Mrs. Stowe to her daughters in Paris. After describing the preparations and start, she says:—
"Gradually the ascent became steeper and steeper, till at length it was all our horses could do to pull us up. The treatment of horses in Naples is a thing that takes away much from the pleasure and comfort of such travelers as have the least feeling for animals. The people seem absolutely to have no consideration for them. You often see vehicles drawn by one horse carrying fourteen or fifteen great, stout men and women. This is the worse as the streets are paved with flat stones which are exceedingly slippery. On going up hill the drivers invariably race their horses, urging them on with a constant storm of blows.
"As the ascent of the mountain became steeper, the horses panted and trembled in a way that made us feel that we could not sit in the carriage, yet the guide and driver never made the slightest motion to leave the box. At last three of us got out and walked, and invited our guide to do the same, yet with all this relief the last part of the ascent was terrible, and the rascally fellows actually forced the horses to it by beating them with long poles on the back of their legs. No Englishman or American would ever allow a horse to be treated so.
"The Hermitage is a small cabin, where one can buy a little wine or any other refreshment one may need. There is a species of wine made of the grapes of Vesuvius, called 'Lachryma Christi,' that has a great reputation. Here was a miscellaneous collection of beggars, ragged boys, men playing guitars, bawling donkey drivers, and people wanting to sell sticks or minerals, the former to assist in the ascent, and the latter as specimens of the place. In the midst of the commotion we were placed on our donkeys, and the serious, pensive brutes moved away. At last we reached the top of the mountain, and I gladly sprang on firm land. The whole top of the mountain was covered with wavering wreaths of smoke, from the shadows of which emerged two English gentlemen, who congratulated us on our safe arrival, and assured us that we were fortunate in our day, as the mountain was very active. We could hear a hollow, roaring sound, like the burning of a great furnace, but saw nothing. 'Is this all?' I said. 'Oh, no. Wait till the guide comes up with the rest of the party,' and soon one after another came up, and we then followed the guide up a cloudy, rocky path, the noise of the fire constantly becoming nearer. Finally we stood on the verge of a vast, circular pit about forty feet deep, the floor of which is of black, ropy waves of congealed lava.
"The sides are sulphur cliffs, stained in every brilliant shade, from lightest yellow to deepest orange and brown. In the midst of the lava floor rises a black cone, the chimney of the great furnace. This was burning and flaming like the furnace of a glass-house, and every few moments throwing up showers of cinders and melted lava which fell with a rattling sound on the black floor of the pit. One small bit of the lava came over and fell at our feet, and a gentleman lighted his cigar at it.
"All around where we stood the smoke was issuing from every chance rent and fissure of the rock, and the Neapolitans who crowded round us were every moment soliciting us to let them cook us an egg in one of these rifts, and, overcome by persuasion, I did so, and found it very nicely boiled, or rather steamed, though the shell tasted of Glauber's salt and sulphur.
"The whole place recalled to my mind so vividly Milton's description of the infernal regions, that I could not but believe that he had drawn the imagery from this source. Milton, as we all know, was some time in Italy, and, although I do not recollect any account of his visiting Vesuvius, I cannot think how he should have shaped his language so coincidently to the phenomena if he had not.
"On the way down the mountain our ladies astonished the natives by making an express stipulation that our donkeys were not to be beaten,— why, they could not conjecture. The idea of any feeling of compassion for an animal is so foreign to a Neapolitan's thoughts that they supposed it must be some want of courage on our part. When, once in a while, the old habit so prevailed that the boy felt that he must strike the donkey, and when I forbade him, he would say, 'Courage, signora, courage.'
"Time would fail me to tell the whole of our adventures in Southern Italy. We left it with regret, and I will tell you some time by word of mouth what else we saw.
"We went by water from Naples to Leghorn, and were gloriously seasick, all of us. From Leghorn we went to Florence, where we abode two weeks nearly. Two days ago we left Florence and started for Venice, stopping one day and two nights en route at Bologna, Here we saw the great university, now used as a library, the walls of which are literally covered with the emblazoned names and coats of arms of distinguished men who were educated there.
"Venice. The great trouble of traveling in Europe, or indeed of traveling anywhere, is that you can never catch romance. No sooner are you in any place than being there seems the most natural, matter-of-fact occurrence in the world. Nothing looks foreign or strange to you. You take your tea and your dinner, eat, drink, and sleep as aforetime, and scarcely realize where you are or what you are seeing. But Venice is an exception to this state of things; it is all romance from beginning to end, and never ceases to seem strange and picturesque.
"It was a rainy evening when our cars rumbled over the long railroad bridge across the lagoon that leads to the station. Nothing but flat, dreary swamps, and then the wide expanse of sea on either side. The cars stopped, and the train, being a long one, left us a little out of the station. We got out in a driving rain, in company with flocks of Austrian soldiers, with whom the third-class cars were filled. We went through a long passage, and emerged into a room where all nations seemed commingling; Italians, Germans, French, Austrians, Orientals, all in wet weather trim.
"Soon, however, the news was brought that our baggage was looked out and our gondolas ready.
"The first plunge under the low, black hood of a gondola, especially of a rainy night, has something funereal in it. Four of us sat cowering together, and looked, out of the rain-dropped little windows at the sides, at the scene. Gondolas of all sizes were gliding up and down, with their sharp, fishy-looking prows of steel pushing their ways silently among each other, while gondoliers shouted and jabbered, and made as much confusion in their way as terrestrial hackmen on dry land. Soon, however, trunks and carpet-bags being adjusted, we pushed off, and went gliding away up the Grand Canal, with a motion so calm that we could scarce discern it except by the moving of objects on shore. Venice, la belle, appeared to as much disadvantage as a beautiful woman bedraggled in a thunder-storm."
"Lake Como. We stayed in Venice five days, and during that time saw all the sights that it could enter the head of a valet-de- place to afflict us with. It is an affliction, however, for which there is no remedy, because you want to see the things, and would be very sorry if you went home without having done so. From Venice we went to Milan to see the cathedral and Leonardo da Vinci's 'Last Supper.' The former is superb, and of the latter I am convinced, from the little that remains of it, that it was the greatest picture the world ever saw. We shall run back to Rome for Holy Week, and then to Paris.
"Rome. From Lake Como we came back here for Holy Week, and now it is over.
"'What do you think of it?'
"Certainly no thoughtful or sensitive person, no person impressible either through the senses or the religious feelings, can fail to feel it deeply.
"In the first place, the mere fact of the different nations of the earth moving, so many of them, with one accord, to so old and venerable a city, to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus, is something in itself affecting. Whatever dispute there may be about the other commemorative feasts of Christendom, the time of this epoch is fixed unerringly by the Jews' Passover. That great and solemn feast, therefore, stands as an historical monument to mark the date of the most important and thrilling events which this world ever witnessed.
"When one sees the city filling with strangers, pilgrims arriving on foot, the very shops decorating themselves in expectancy, every church arranging its services, the prices even of temporal matters raised by the crowd and its demands, he naturally thinks, Wherefore, why is all this? and he must be very careless indeed if it do not bring to mind, in a more real way than before, that at this very time, so many years ago, Christ and his apostles were living actors in the scenes thus celebrated to-day."
As the spring was now well advanced, it was deemed advisable to bring this pleasant journey to a close, and for Mrs. Stowe at least it was imperative that she return to America. Therefore, leaving Rome with many regrets and lingering, backward glances, the two sisters hurried to Paris, where they found their brother-in-law, Mr. John Hooker, awaiting them. Under date of May 3 Mrs. Stowe writes from Paris to her husband: "Here I am once more, safe in Paris after a fatiguing journey. I found the girls well, and greatly improved in their studies. As to bringing them home with me now, I have come to the conclusion that it would not be expedient. A few months more of study here will do them a world of good. I have, therefore, arranged that they shall come in November in the Arago, with a party of friends who are going at that time.
"John Hooker is here, so Mary is going with him and some others for a few weeks into Switzerland. I have some business affairs to settle in England, and shall sail from Liverpool in the Europa on the sixth of June. I am so homesick to-day, and long with a great longing to be with you once more. I am impatient to go, and yet dread the voyage. Still, to reach you I must commit myself once more to the ocean, of which at times I have a nervous horror, as to the arms of my Father. 'The sea is his, and He made it.' It is a rude, noisy old servant, but it is always obedient to his will, and cannot carry me beyond his power and love, wherever or to whatever it bears me."
Having established her daughters in a Protestant boarding-school in Paris, Mrs. Stowe proceeded to London. While there she received the following letter from Harriet Martineau:—
AMBLESIDE, June 1.
DEAR MRS. STOWE,—I have been at my wits' end to learn how to reach you, as your note bore no direction but "London." Arnolds, Croppers, and others could give no light, and the newspapers tell only where you had been. So I commit this to your publishers, trusting that it will find you somewhere, and in time, perhaps, bring you here. Can't you come? You are aware that we shall never meet if you don't come soon. I see no strangers at all, but I hope to have breath and strength enough for a little talk with you, if you could come. You could have perfect freedom at the times when I am laid up, and we could seize my "capability seasons" for our talk.
The weather and scenery are usually splendid just now. Did I see you (in white frock and black silk apron) when I was in Ohio in 1835? Your sister I knew well, and I have a clear recollection of your father. I believe and hope you were the young lady in the black silk apron.
Do you know I rather dreaded reading your book! Sick people are weak: and one of my chief weaknesses is dislike of novels,—(except some old ones which I almost know by heart). I knew that with you I should be safe from the cobweb-spinning of our modern subjective novelists and the jaunty vulgarity of our "funny philosophers"—the Dickens sort, who have tired us out. But I dreaded the alternative,— the too strong interest. But oh! the delight I have had in "Dred!" The genius carries all before it, and drowns everything in glorious pleasure. So marked a work of genius claims exemption from every sort of comparison; but, as you ask for my opinion of the book, you may like to know that I think it far superior to "Uncle Tom." I have no doubt that a multitude of people will say it is a falling off, because they made up their minds that any new book of yours must be inferior to that, and because it is so rare a thing for a prodigious fame to be sustained by a second book; but, in my own mind I am entirely convinced that the second book is by far the best. Such faults as you have are in the artistic department, and there is less defect in "Dred" than in "Uncle Tom," and the whole material and treatment seem to me richer and more substantial. I have had critiques of "Dred" from the two very wisest people I know—perfectly unlike each other (the critics, I mean), and they delight me by thinking exactly like each other and like me. They distinctly prefer it to "Uncle Tom." To say the plain truth, it seems to me so splendid a work of genius that nothing that I can say can give you an idea of the intensity of admiration with which I read it. It seemed to me, as I told my nieces, that our English fiction writers had better shut up altogether and have done with it, for one will have no patience with any but didactic writing after yours. My nieces (and you may have heard that Maria, my nurse, is very, very clever) are thoroughly possessed with the book, and Maria says she feels as if a fresh department of human life had been opened to her since this day week. I feel the freshness no less, while, from my travels, I can be even more assured of the truthfulness of your wonderful representation. I see no limit to the good it may do by suddenly splitting open Southern life, for everybody to look into. It is precisely the thing that is most wanted,—just as "Uncle Tom" was wanted, three years since, to show what negro slavery in your republic was like. It is plantation-life, particularly in the present case, that I mean. As for your exposure of the weakness and helplessness to the churches, I deeply honor you for the courage with which you have made the exposure; but I don't suppose that any amendment is to be looked for in that direction. You have unburdened your own soul in that matter, and if they had been corrigible, you would have helped a good many more. But I don't expect that result. The Southern railing at you will be something unequaled, I suppose. I hear that three of us have the honor of being abused from day to day already, as most portentous and shocking women, you, Mrs. Chapman, and myself as (the traveler of twenty years ago). Not only newspapers, but pamphlets of such denunciation are circulated, I'm told. I'm afraid now I, and even Mrs. Chapman, must lose our fame, and all the railing will be engrossed by you. My little function is to keep English people tolerably right, by means of a London daily paper, while the danger of misinformation and misreading from the "Times" continues. I can't conceive how such a paper as the "Times" can fail to be better informed than it is. At times it seems as if its New York correspondent was making game of it. The able and excellent editor of the "Daily News" gives me complete liberty on American subjects, and Mrs. Chapman's and other friends' constant supply of information enables me to use this liberty for making the cause better understood. I hope I shall hear that you are coming. It is like a great impertinence—my having written so freely about your book: but you asked my opinion,—that is all I can say. Thank you much for sending the book to me. If you come you will write our names in it, and this will make it a valuable legacy to a nephew or niece.
Believe me gratefully and affectionately yours,
In London Mrs. Stowe also received the following letter from Prescott, the historian, which after long wandering had finally rested quietly at her English publishers awaiting her coming.
PEPPERELL, October 4, 1856.
MY DEAR MRS. STOWE,—I am much obliged to you for the copy of "Dred" which Mr. Phillips put into my hands. It has furnished us our evening's amusement since we have been in the country, where we spend the brilliant month of October.
The African race are much indebted to you for showing up the good sides of their characters, their cheerfulness, and especially their powers of humor, which are admirably set off by their peculiar patois, in the same manner as the expression of the Scottish sentiment is by the peculiar Scottish dialect. People differ; but I was most struck among your characters with Uncle Tiff and Nina. The former a variation of good old Uncle Tom, though conceived in a merrier vein than belonged to that sedate personage; the difference of their tempers in this respect being well suited to the difference of the circumstances in which they were placed. But Nina, to my mind, is the true hero of the book, which I should have named after her instead of "Dred." She is indeed a charming conception, full of what is called character, and what is masculine in her nature is toned down by such a delightful sweetness and kindness of disposition as makes her perfectly fascinating. I cannot forgive you for smothering her so prematurely. No dramatis person could afford the loss of such a character. But I will not bore you with criticism, of which you have had quite enough. I must thank you, however, for giving Tom Gordon a guttapercha cane to perform his flagellations with.
I congratulate you on the brilliant success of the work, unexampled even in this age of authorship; and, as Mr. Phillips informs me, greater even in the old country than in ours. I am glad you are likely to settle the question and show that a Yankee writer can get a copyright in England—little thanks to our own government, which compels him to go there in order to get it.
With sincere regard, believe me, dear Mrs. Stowe,
Very truly yours,
WM. H. PRESCOTT.
From Liverpool, on the eve of her departure for America, Mrs. Stowe wrote to her daughters in Paris:—
I spent the day before leaving London with Lady Byron. She is lovelier than ever, and inquired kindly about you both. I left London to go to Manchester, and reaching there found the Rev. Mr. Gaskell waiting to welcome me in the station. Mrs. Gaskell seems lovely at home, where besides being a writer she proves herself to be a first-class housekeeper, and performs all the duties of a minister's wife. After spending a delightful day with her I came here to the beautiful "Dingle," which is more enchanting than ever. I am staying with Mrs. Edward Cropper, Lord Denman's daughter.
I want you to tell Aunt Mary that Mr. Ruskin lives with his father at a place called Denmark Hill, Camberwell. He has told me that the gallery of Turner pictures there is open to me or my friends at any time of the day or night. Both young and old Mr. Ruskin are fine fellows, sociable and hearty, and will cordially welcome any of my friends who desire to look at their pictures.
I write in haste, as I must be aboard the ship tomorrow at eight o'clock. So good-by, my dear girls, from your ever affectionate mother.
Her last letter written before sailing was to Lady Byron, and serves to show how warm an intimacy had sprung up between them. It was as follows:—
June 5, 1857.
DEAR FRIEND,—I left you with a strange sort of yearning, throbbing feeling—you make me feel quite as I did years ago, a sort of girlishness quite odd for me. I have felt a strange longing to send you something. Don't smile when you see what it turns out to be. I have a weakness for your pretty Parian things; it is one of my own home peculiarities to have strong passions for pretty tea-cups and other little matters for my own quiet meals, when, as often happens, I am too unwell to join the family. So I send you a cup made of primroses, a funny little pitcher, quite large enough for cream, and a little vase for violets and primroses—which will be lovely together— and when you use it think of me and that I love you more than I can say.
I often think how strange it is that I should know you—you who were a sort of legend of my early days—that I should love you is only a natural result. You seem to me to stand on the confines of that land where the poor formalities which separate hearts here pass like mist before the sun, and therefore it is that I feel the language of love must not startle you as strange or unfamiliar. You are so nearly there in spirit that I fear with every adieu that it may be the last; yet did you pass within the veil I should not feel you lost.
I have got past the time when I feel that my heavenly friends are lost by going there. I feel them nearer, rather than farther off.
So good-by, dear, dear friend, and if you see morning in our Father's house before I do, carry my love to those that wait for me, and if I pass first, you will find me there, and we shall love each other forever.
H. B. STOWE.
The homeward voyage proved a prosperous one, and it was followed by a joyous welcome to the "Cabin" in Andover. The world seemed very bright, and amid all her happiness came no intimation of the terrible blow about to descend upon the head of the devoted mother.
THE MINISTER'S WOOING, 1857-1859.
DEATH OF MRS. STOWE'S OLDEST SON.—LETTER TO THE DUCHESS OF SUTHERLAND.—LETTER TO HER DAUGHTERS IN PARIS.—LETTER TO HER SISTER CATHERINE.—VISIT TO BRUNSWICK AND ORR'S ISLAND.—WRITES "THE MINISTER'S WOOING" AND "THE PEARL OF ORR'S ISLAND."—MR. WHITTIER'S COMMENTS.—MR. LOWELL ON THE "MINISTER'S WOOING."—LETTER TO MRS. STOWE FROM MR. LOWELL.—JOHN RUSKIN ON THE "MINISTER'S WOOING."—A YEAR OF SADNESS.—LETTER TO LADY BYRON.—LETTER TO HER DAUGHTER.— DEPARTURE FOR EUROPE.
Immediately after Mrs. Stowe's return from England in June, 1857, a crushing sorrow came upon her in the death of her oldest son, Henry Ellis, who was drowned while bathing in the Connecticut River at Hanover, N. H., where he was pursuing his studies as a member of the Freshman class in Dartmouth College. This melancholy event transpired the 9th of July, 1857, and the 3d of August Mrs. Stowe wrote to the Duchess of Sutherland:—
DEAR FRIEND,—Before this reaches you you will have perhaps learned from other sources of the sad blow which has fallen upon us,—our darling, our good, beautiful boy, snatched away in the moment of health and happiness. Alas! could I know that when I parted from my Henry on English shores that I should never see him more? I returned to my home, and, amid the jubilee of meeting the rest, was fain to be satisfied with only a letter from him, saying that his college examinations were coming on, and he must defer seeing me a week or two till they were over. I thought then of taking his younger brother and going up to visit him; but the health of the latter seeming unfavorably affected by the seacoast air, I turned back with him to a water-cure establishment. Before I had been two weeks absent a fatal telegram hurried me home, and when I arrived there it was to find the house filled with his weeping classmates, who had just come bringing his remains. There he lay so calm, so placid, so peaceful, that I could not believe that he would not smile upon me, and that my voice which always had such power over him could not recall him. There had always been such a peculiar union, such a tenderness between us. I had had such power always to call up answering feelings to my own, that it seemed impossible that he could be silent and unmoved at my grief. But yet, dear friend, I am sensible that in this last sad scene I had an alleviation that was not granted to you. I recollect, in the mournful letter you wrote me about that time, you said that you mourned that you had never told your own dear one how much you loved him. That sentence touched me at the time. I laid it to heart, and from that time lost no occasion of expressing to my children those feelings that we too often defer to express to our dearest friends till it is forever too late.
He did fully know how I loved him, and some of the last loving words he spoke were of me. The very day that he was taken from us, and when he was just rising from the table of his boarding-house to go whence he never returned, some one noticed the seal ring, which you may remember to have seen on his finger, and said, How beautiful that ring is! Yes, he said, and best of all, it was my mother's gift to me. That ring, taken from the lifeless hand a few hours later, was sent to me. Singularly enough, it is broken right across the name from a fall a little time previous. . . .
It is a great comfort to me, dear friend, that I took Henry with me to Dunrobin. I hesitated about keeping him so long from his studies, but still I thought a mind so observing and appreciative might learn from such a tour more than through books, and so it was. He returned from England full of high resolves and manly purposes. "I may not be what the world calls a Christian," he wrote, "but I will live such a life as a Christian ought to live, such a life as every true man ought to live." Henceforth he became remarkable for a strict order and energy, and a vigilant temperance and care of his bodily health, docility and deference to his parents and teachers, and perseverance in every duty.
. . . Well, from the hard battle of this life he is excused, and the will is taken for the deed, and whatever comes his heart will not be pierced as mine is. But I am glad that I can connect him with all my choicest remembrances of the Old World.
Dunrobin will always be dearer to me now, and I have felt towards you and the duke a turning of spirit, because I remember how kindly you always looked on and spoke to him. I knew then it was the angel of your lost one that stirred your hearts with tenderness when you looked on another so near his age. The plaid that the duke gave him, and which he valued as one of the chief of his boyish treasures, will hang in his room—for still we have a room that we call his.
You will understand, you will feel, this sorrow with us as few can. My poor husband is much prostrated. I need not say more: you know what this must be to a father's heart. But still I repeat what I said when I saw you last. Our dead are ministering angels; they teach us to love, they fill us with tenderness for all that can suffer. These weary hours when sorrow makes us for the time blind and deaf and dumb, have their promise. These hours come in answer to our prayers for nearness to God. It is always our treasure that the lightning strikes. . . . I have poured out my heart to you because you can understand. While I was visiting in Hanover, where Henry died, a poor, deaf old slave woman, who has still five children in bondage, came to comfort me. "Bear up, dear soul, she said; you must bear it, for the Lord loves ye." She said further, "Sunday is a heavy day to me, 'cause I can't work, and can't hear preaching, and can't read, so I can't keep my mind off my poor children. Some on 'em the blessed Master's got, and they's safe; but, oh, there are five that I don't know where they are."
What are our mother sorrows to this! I shall try to search out and redeem these children, though, from the ill success of efforts already made, I fear it will be hopeless. Every sorrow I have, every lesson on the sacredness of family love, makes me the more determined to resist to the last this dreadful evil that makes so many mothers so much deeper mourners than I ever can be. . . .
H. B. STOWE.
About this same time she writes to her daughters in Paris: "Can anybody tell what sorrows are locked up with our best affections, or what pain may be associated with every pleasure? As I walk the house, the pictures he used to love, the presents I brought him, and the photographs I meant to show him, ail pierce my heart, I have had a dreadful faintness of sorrow come over me at times. I have felt so crushed, so bleeding, so helpless, that I could only call on my Saviour with groanings that could not be uttered. Your papa justly said, 'Every child that dies is for the time being an only one; yes— his individuality no time, no change, can ever replace.'
"Two days after the funeral your father and I went to Hanover. We saw Henry's friends, and his room, which was just as it was the day he left it.
"'There is not another such room in the college as his,' said one of his classmates with tears. I could not help loving the dear boys as they would come and look sadly in, and tell us one thing and another that they remembered of him. 'He was always talking of his home and his sisters,' said one. The very day he died he was so happy because I had returned, and he was expecting soon to go home and meet me. He died with that dear thought in his heart.
"There was a beautiful lane leading down through a charming glen to the river. It had been for years the bathing-place of the students, and into the pure, clear water he plunged, little dreaming that he was never to come out alive.
"In the evening we went down to see the boating club of which he was a member. He was so happy in this boating club. They had a beautiful boat called the Una, and a uniform, and he enjoyed it so much.
"This evening all the different crews were out; but Henry's had their flag furled, and tied with black crape. I felt such love to the dear boys, all of them, because they loved Henry, that it did not pain me as it otherwise would. They were glad to see us there, and I was glad that we could be there. Yet right above where their boats were gliding in the evening light lay the bend in the river, clear, still, beautiful, fringed with overhanging pines, from whence our boy went upward to heaven. To heaven—if earnest, manly purpose, if sincere, deliberate strife with besetting sin is accepted of God, as I firmly believe it is. Our dear boy was but a beginner in the right way. Had he lived, we had hoped to see all wrong gradually fall from his soul as the worn-out calyx drops from the perfected flower. But Christ has taken him into his own teaching.
"'And one view of Jesus as He is, Will strike all sin forever dead.'
"Since I wrote to you last we have had anniversary meetings, and with all the usual bustle and care, our house full of company. Tuesday we received a beautiful portrait of our dear Henry, life-size, and as perfect almost as life. It has just that half-roguish, half-loving expression with which he would look at me sometimes, when I would come and brush back his hair and look into his eyes. Every time I go in or out of the room, it seems to give so bright a smile that I almost think that a spirit dwells within it.
"When I am so heavy, so weary, and go about as if I were wearing an arrow that had pierced my heart, I sometimes look up, and this smile seems to say, 'Mother, patience, I am happy. In our Father's house are many mansions.' Sometimes I think I am like a gardener who has planted the seed of some rare exotic. He watches as the two little points of green leaf first spring above the soil. He shifts it from soil to soil, from pot to pot. He watches it, waters it, saves it through thousands of mischiefs and accidents. He counts every leaf, and marks the strengthening of the stem, till at last the blossom bud was fully formed. What curiosity, what eagerness,—what expectation—what longing now to see the mystery unfold in the new flower.
"Just as the calyx begins to divide and a faint streak of color becomes visible,—lo! in one night the owner of the greenhouse sends and takes it away. He does not consult me, he gives me no warning; he silently takes it and I look, but it is no more. What, then? Do I suppose he has destroyed the flower? Far from it; I know that he has taken it to his own garden. What Henry might have been I could guess better than any one. What Henry is, is known to Jesus only."
Shortly after this time Mrs. Stowe wrote to her sister Catherine:—
If ever I was conscious of an attack of the Devil trying to separate me from the love of Christ, it was for some days after the terrible news came. I was in a state of great physical weakness, most agonizing, and unable to control my thoughts. Distressing doubts as to Henry's spiritual state were rudely thrust upon my soul. It was as if a voice had said to me: "You trusted in God, did you? You believed that He loved you! You had perfect confidence that he would never take your child till the work of grace was mature! Now He has hurried him into eternity without a moment's warning, without preparation, and where is he?"
I saw at last that these thoughts were irrational, and contradicted the calm, settled belief of my better moments, and that they were dishonorable to God, and that it was my duty to resist them, and to assume and steadily maintain that Jesus in love had taken my dear one to his bosom. Since then the Enemy has left me in peace.
It is our duty to assume that a thing which would be in its very nature unkind, ungenerous, and unfair has not been done. What should we think of the crime of that human being who should take a young mind from circumstances where it was progressing in virtue, and throw it recklessly into corrupting and depraving society? Particularly if it were the child of one who had trusted and confided in Him for years. No! no such slander as this shall the Devil ever fix in my mind against my Lord and my God! He who made me capable of such an absorbing, unselfish devotion for my children, so that I would sacrifice my eternal salvation for them, He certainly did not make me capable of more love, more disinterestedness than He has himself. He invented mothers' hearts, and He certainly has the pattern in his own, and my poor, weak rush-light of love is enough to show me that some things can and some things cannot be done. Mr. Stowe said in his sermon last Sunday that the mysteries of God's ways with us must be swallowed up by the greater mystery of the love of Christ, even as Aaron's rod swallowed up the rods of the magicians.
Papa and mamma are here, and we have been reading over the "Autobiography and Correspondence." It is glorious, beautiful; but more of this anon.
Your affectionate sister,
ANDOVER, August 24, 1857.
DEAR CHILDREN,—Since anniversary papa and I have been living at home; Grandpa and Grandma Beecher are here also, and we have had much comfort in their society. . . . To-night the last sad duty is before us. The body is to be removed from the receiving tomb in the Old South Churchyard, and laid in the graveyard near by. Pearson has been at work for a week on a lot that is to be thenceforth ours.
"Our just inheritance consecrated by his grave."
How little he thought, wandering there as he often has with us, that his mortal form would so soon be resting there. Yet that was written for him. It was as certain then as now, and the hour and place of our death is equally certain, though we know it not.
It seems selfish that I should yearn to lie down by his side, but I never knew how much I loved him till now.
The one lost piece of silver seems more than all the rest,—the one lost sheep dearer than all the fold, and I so long for one word, one look, one last embrace. . . .
ANDOVER, September 1, 1857.
MY DARLING CHILDREN,—I must not allow a week to pass without sending a line to you. . . . Our home never looked lovelier. I never saw Andover look so beautiful; the trees so green, the foliage so rich. Papa and I are just starting to spend a week in Brunswick, for I am so miserable—so weak—the least exertion fatigues me, and much of my time I feel a heavy languor, indifferent to everything. I know nothing is so likely to bring me up as the air of the seaside. . . . I have set many flowers around Henry's grave, which are blossoming; pansies, white immortelle, white petunia, and verbenas. Papa walks there every day, often twice or three times. The lot has been rolled and planted with fine grass, which is already up and looks green and soft as velvet, and the little birds gather about it. To-night as I sat there the sky was so beautiful, all rosy, with the silver moon looking out of it. Papa said with a deep sigh, "I am submissive, but not reconciled."
BRUNSWICK, September 6,1857.
MY DEAR GIRLS,—Papa and I have been here for four or five days past. We both of us felt so unwell that we thought we would try the sea air and the dear old scenes of Brunswick. Everything here is just as we left it. We are staying with Mrs. Upham, whose house is as wide, cool, and hospitable as ever. The trees in the yard have grown finely, and Mrs. Upham has cultivated flowers so successfully that the house is all surrounded by them. Everything about the town is the same, even to Miss Gidding's old shop, which is as disorderly as ever, presenting the same medley of tracts, sewing-silk, darning-cotton, and unimaginable old bonnets, which existed there of yore. She has been heard to complain that she can't find things as easily as once. Day before yesterday papa, Charley, and I went down to Harpswell about seven o'clock in the morning. The old spruces and firs look lovely as ever, and I was delighted, as I always used to be, with every step of the way. Old Gotchell's mill stands as forlorn as ever in its sandy wastes, and More Brook creeps on glassy and clear beyond. Arriving at Harpswell a glorious hot day, with scarce a breeze to ruffle the water, papa and Charley went to fish for cunners, who soon proved too cunning for them, for they ate every morsel of bait off the hooks, so that out of twenty bites they only secured two or three. What they did get were fried for our dinner, reinforced by a fine clam-chowder. The evening was one of the most glorious I ever saw—a calm sea and round, full moon; Mrs. Upham and I sat out on the rocks between the mainland and the island until ten o'clock. I never did see a more perfect and glorious scene, and to add to it there was a splendid northern light dancing like spirits in the sky. Had it not been for a terrible attack of mosquitoes in our sleeping-rooms, that kept us up and fighting all night, we should have called it a perfect success.