The next day, the 3d of August, Mr. Ticknor
went to Stoke Park, the seat of Mr. Labouchere
, since Lord Taunton:—
I found the Park much larger than I expected; it is, indeed, one of the grandest I have seen, full of groves of old oaks, and a plenty of deer, and all so near London,—only seventeen miles. Windsor is in full view from it, and makes a grand show . . .. The house is large, but not very good-looking outside.
Inside, however, it is fine, and filled with fine works of art, ancient and recent; among the last, four bas-reliefs by Thorwaldsen, and one of his statues, which gave me great pleasure.
Lady Mary took me over the whole, including her own parlor and bedroom, which are very luxurious and tasteful; but the rooms that I preferred were the dining-room, and one adjacent to it, in which was a most graceful fountain, that in the heat to-day was particularly attractive.
I went, however, chiefly to see a few Spanish books, particularly a copy of Lope de Vega's plays, the most complete and the best preserved in the world.
With these I occupied myself an hour or two, the three charming little girls helping me to bring the books, and put them up again in the most frolicsome and agreeable manner.
Of course I was taken to see the old Manor House, the scene of Gray's ‘Long Story,’ that begins, ‘In Briton's Isle, and Arthur's days.’
It is well cared for, and is an excellent specimen of the Elizabethan style, as it ought to be, since Hatton lived there.
The church, too, and, above all, the churchyard, which gave the world the undying Elegy, and where rest the remains of Gray's mother and aunt, who lived at Stoke Pogis after the death of his father.
They are most
poetical places, the architecture, the position, and the plantations being just what you would like to have them, and treated with the respect they deserve . . . .
When we reached town,—just before seven,—I drove directly to the Athenaeum, where, by previous appointment, I met Twisleton, who has come to town for two nights to attend a meeting of the Oxford Commission. . . . . We had a jolly time, I assure you, and, after going home, a good talk till eleven o'clock.
August 4.—. . . . I drove to the Barings', in the depths of the city, . . . . saw the gentlemen there,—except Mr. Bates, who is at Dover,—adjusted my money affairs, and, hastening to the London Bridge Station, came down to Mildmay's at Shoreham, in a thoroughly hot, disagreeable, stifling carriage of the three-o'clock train.4 But I was refreshed by the drive of nine miles in a nice little open carriage, which Mildmay had sent to fetch me, and I was quite up to my usual condition when I reached the house,—so cool, so quiet, so consoling after five weeks in London, and the four preceding in Paris.
As I crossed the hall the servant gave me a note from Lady Stanhope about a visit to Chevening, and when I entered the room I found Lord Stanhope there, who had come over to see if I was arrived, bringing the Milmans with him, . . . . as they are now stopping a couple of nights at his house.
It was all very agreeable.
When they were gone, and I had made myself a little comfortable, we went and sat on the lawn under the fine old trees till it was time to dress for dinner.
It was delicious.
So was the evening.
I had asked Mildmay to invite nobody to meet me, and so we had a quiet and most agreeable time in the library. . . . .
August 5.—We had a little rain this forenoon, which was much wanted in the country, and very welcome to me, as it prevented all suggestion of moving.
I remained in my chamber, chiefly occupied with writing.
In the afternoon it was fine again, and we drove to Knowle, a grand old castellated mansion, belonging to the widow of the late Lord Amherst, of Chinese memory.
Parts of it date from the time of King John, and none is more recent than the time of Henry VIII.
It is very extensive, few old castles being so large, and it has an awful, hard, grim, feudal look, so slight have been the changes made in it . . . . . The drive was fine.
Its own park is very large, and we took another in our way back.
August 6.—. . . . The day has been cool and beautiful.
I lounged in the library an hour or so after breakfast, and then wrote and read in
great quiet and peace till it was time to drive.
I enjoy this life very much.
I did not know how tired I was till I began to rest . . . .
Our drive to-day was to Sir Somebody Dyke's, whose family have held the property on which they now live above five hundred years.
They were not at home, nor was Lady Amherst yesterday, and I was glad of both.
The Dyke house is nothing, modern and ugly; but there is a fine old gate, all covered with ivy, and a little church still older, just big enough for a good-sized family to assemble in, and full of ‘old brasses,’ as they are called. . . . . It is a curious old place.
After we came home we walked about Mildmay's domain, where I found a good deal that is tasteful and agreeable, which you will remember, both in the brilliant flower-garden behind the house and the park-like scenery in front of it. Mildmay has about three thousand acres in all, and seems to be adding a good deal to its value by building nice cottages in his village, and a pleasant extension of the house towards the east. . . . .
Chevening, August 7, 1857.—. . . . We lingered at the breakfasttable yesterday, and the girls, instead of going to their governess, stopped to see me off,—a symptom that they liked my visit as well as they said they did, . . . . which was not unpleasant to me. At any rate, on my part I was sorry to leave them all, for they have been very kind to me, and Mrs. Mildmay is a person whose character and accomplishments are equally rare and attractive.
Mildmay drove me over here.
The road was pleasant, and lay through the valley in which both his estate and Lord Stanhope's are situated.
You remember it, of course, as you must also remember Chevening, and so I will not lay out any of my words in describing it. Lady Stanhope came down to receive me, and took me at once to her own parlor, where Lord Stanhope joined us immediately.
Monckton Milnes and his wife are stopping here, as well as Lady Granville Somerset, . . . . and Lady Strafford, or some such name, which I did not well hear.
We all walked out into the park, and went over the finer parts of it, where, among other things, I saw some Roman remains and monuments, brought by the first great Stanhope from Tarragona, in Spain, one of which gives much offence to all ladies, because it makes the crowning virtue of the wife to whose memory it is inscribed, that she was uxori obsequentissimoe. Lord Stanhope said that he had seen ladies flush with indignation at it, and break forth into unseemly expressions of anger.
In the little church, which is very becoming the family's position,—not large, but picturesque and antique,—there is a beautiful
group of a mother and child,—the mother only twenty-three,—by Chantrey, which he claimed—and I dare say rightly — to be the best of his works.
It is certainly worthy to be such, by its purity and grace.
Afterwards I went over the house, as you did last year.
It was built by Inigo Jones, and may have been good as he left it, but it has been so altered and enlarged, that, except the fine staircase, and the entrance-hall all covered with arms brought home as trophies from the war of the Spanish Succession, there is nothing—or very little—to admire in it, except two or three good rooms.
The library is large, and I occupied myself there for an hour or more among the old Spanish books, some of which are curious.
After lunch . . . . I took a long drive about the country with Lady Stanhope and Lady Granville Somerset.
It is a beautiful re. gion,—indeed, the whole of the county of Kent has a good reputation, —and as the weather was bright and cool, I much enjoyed it. In the course of the drive we stopped at a most neat and even elegant little cottage, standing in the midst of a rich lawn, full of shrubbery and flower-beds, where there still lives Miss Thrale, one of the daughters of Johnson's Thrale, whose brewery—as Lady Stanhope told me—is now that of Barclay Perkins & Co. Miss Thrale is of course no longer young.
She is, in fact, eighty-seven years old, but she is a stout, easy, comfortable old lady, full of good works and alms, and one who, as she has no love for books,--or very little,—does not care to talk about Dr. Johnson, and still less about her mother.
But her cottage and grounds are in excellent taste, and well become the character and position of their possessor, who is much liked through all the country side.
We returned by ‘Chatham's drive,’ as it is called, a road through the highest part of the park, two or three miles long, which Lord Chatham advised to be cut, when he occupied Chevening in 1769.
It proves him to have been a man of excellent taste, for the view from it is one of the finest I know of the sort . . . . . Lord Chatham said he thought it the finest view in the kingdom.
I suppose it may be the finest view of an approach to such a mansion.
. . . . One or two neighbors were invited to dinner and were pleasant, especially a very rich Mr. Rogers, learned in the natural sciences. . . . . Milnes said smart, epigrammatic things in abundance after his fashion; . . . . but as I took in Lady Stanhope to dinner, I devoted myself to her, and had the best of the talk, I suspect.
She is very bright, and extremely quick of apprehension.
I went, a part of the evening, to Lord Stanhope's private working-room, and looked over
some curious old family papers.
The rest of it we spent in the saloon very agreeably, some of it very gayly.
Saturday, August 8.—Off with Milnes—after an early breakfast—for London, where, having two or three hours to spare, I went to see the Great Eastern, which Twisleton, Lord Stanhope, and sundry other persons have urged me very much to see, as one of the wonders of the time. . . . . At four o'clock I met Mr. Sturgis by appointment at the railroad station, near Waterloo Bridge, and came with him seventeen miles, to pass Sunday at his place near Walton. . . . . Finding Weybridge to be only two and a half miles from here, I drove over there and returned Mrs. Austin's call, but was sorry to find her away from home for a couple of days.
I should have liked one more talk with her. . . .
August 10.—. . . . I came to London in an early train this morning.
The weather was brilliant when I left Walton, all fog when I arrived forty minutes later.
Not caring to go myself all the way to Rutland Gate, I drove to the Athenaeum for my breakfast, and despatched my servant thence for my letters.
At eleven I was at the station of Kings Cross, and took my place for Bolton Percy, where I arrived—one hundred and eighty-three miles-just at five o'clock. The journey was rendered more than commonly agreeable by the fact that I came in the same carriage with a Mr. Norman, his wife and daughter, and a son fresh from Eton, who are neighbors of Mildmay, and whom Mildmay had invited to dine to meet me. Mr. Norman is much of a scholar, a man of large fortune, and Mildmay had told me that he had been very sorry he could not come to dinner, as he liked my book; a fact he did not at all conceal from me. We had a good time, and parted great friends. . . . .
I was most heartily received by Mr.Harcourt and Mrs. Harcourt,5 both looking just as they did last year.
It is a most comfortable place; a fine old rambling house, with a rich lawn,—which they are just now shaving, though it looks, in Milton's phrase, close shaven already,and on one side of it an ancient picturesque church, such as you often see standing just in the right place to ornament an English landscape. . . . . In the evening we had most cheerful talk on all sorts of matters, for few persons have more richly stored minds than Mr. Harcourt . . . .
Tuesday, August 11.—After a cheerful breakfast Mr. Harcourt and I, at eleven o'clock, got into the train for York, and arrived there in twenty minutes. The old city looked natural, but its streets and
shops are gayer than they were. . . . . On arriving we went first to the Museum, as they call it, with its beautiful grounds, and the remains of a Roman wall, and the graceful ruins of a rich abbey of the fourteenth century.
It did not seem two-and-twenty years since I saw them last.
Nor did it seem so long since we all went over the grand old minster with Mr. Harcourt, just as I did to-day.
It is in admirable preservation and repair, for since the two fires, . . . . £ 120,000 have been spent with excellent judgment and taste, under Mr. Harcourt's direction.
We saw Mrs. Harcourt and Lady Susan6 in the street,—in a carriage fit for any noble lady,—to make purchases.
Indeed, their whole establishment . . . . is of the most liberal sort, without being in the least luxurious, showy, or dainty.
It is becoming their station and character, and indicates what is certainly true, that, while Mr. Harcourt is rich, . . . . he prefers to live as a country clergyman and do his duty thoroughly as such.
I am very glad to have seen such an establishment, as I have never seen one before.
In the winter, for three months, he lives in that more elegant and luxurious establishment in York, which is by turns the official residence of the canons of the minster. . . . .
August 13.—. . . . The weather was very brilliant yesterday, and in the afternoon I took a drive of sixteen or eighteen miles with Mr.Harcourt and Mrs. Harcourt and Lady Susan Harcourt . . . . . We visited, in the course of it, two of those beautiful places with which England abounds.
One was the estate of the Wenlocks, where I saw the Dowager, who is a Nevil, which is tantamount to saying one of the oldest families in England.
The Lawley family, into which she married, however, is recent and rich, the Hall and its gardens showing their resources, and a new church and rectory, near, showing their good taste and judgment.
The other was a place belonging to a Mr. Preston, who married a grand-daughter of that Pamela who figures so much in Mad. de Genlis' Memoirs, and who was, no doubt, a daughter of Mad. de Genlis and Philippe Egalite.
She is a very bright, brilliant little Irish woman, and so is her mother, Lady Campbell, who is staying with her; both being worthy of their descent from Mad. de Genlis and Lord Edward Fitzgerald.
Mrs. Harcourt seems to like them both, and I was glad to see them, as she much desired I should.
Their park and garden, too, are fine.
The drive and visits occupied till dinner-time,—indeed, till after t Pamela having married Lord Edward Fitzgerald.
the usual hour, which is seven, so that the evening was rather short. . . .
The Harcourts have, many times since I have been here, expressed their regret that you could not have come with me, and just now, when I was down stairs, Mrs. Harcourt charged me afresh to express it to you. You remember what a charming woman she is, but I assure you she is nowhere so charming as in her own house.
The interest she has taken in Lizzie's sickness . . . . is most gratifying.
I am very sorry to leave them . . . .
Wentworth House, August 13.—. . . . At half past 3 I bade the good, kind, intellectual Harcourts good by, and between seven and eight drove through the grand old park, and came up to that famous Italian front which is a good deal longer than Park Street. . . . . A magnificent porter and six or seven livery-servants appeared at once, and then the groom of the chambers, who said in his most elegant black-silk-stocking manner, ‘My lord will receive you, sir’; and then, perhaps noticing that I looked amused, he added very blandly, ‘My lord hoped you would come to-night.’
I was carried at once to the long gallery. . . . . There was no mistake about the matter.
They were glad to see me, and in ten minutes it was as if I had been there a month.
Lord Fitzwilliam is somewhat infirm, but is stronger than he was two or three years ago, when his health was impaired by an accident.
He was, as Lady Charlotte told me, stopping on the sea-coast with the ladies of the family,—at Folkestone, I think,—and one day, as he stood on the shore, observed a young servant who was bathing and playing in the water.
He turned to see something else, and on looking back in an instant the youth had disappeared.
Old as he was— sixty-eight—he plunged in, swam to him, and, seizing him and seized by him, turned for the shore.
But he was soon exhausted, and both were at last saved by his coachman.
It was above a year before he recovered from the effects of his exertions.
August 14.— . . . . After breakfast Lord Fitzwilliam asked me to go, with him and Lady Charlotte, to an examination of his schools by the Inspector of the District.
It was in the village of Wentworth; . . . . that is, the girls were there to the number of one hundred and eighty, from four years to fourteen.
The boys are elsewhere, to be examined next week.
The school-house, divided into several rooms, is excellent and in good taste, built by the present lord. . . . . The examination was excellent, done with kindness and skill. . . . . The doctrines of the church and the history of the Jews were well
insisted upon, and the children were less quick and eager than ours.
Otherwise, the examination might have occurred in Massachusetts.
But I do not suppose that many schools are like those cared for by Lord Fitzwilliam.
We drove afterwards about the immense park. . . . . On our return from this excursion,—as it may well be called from its length, —we walked on that beautiful terrace built up so grandly, and as soft to the foot as velvet, for half a mile.
It is finer than it was formerly, some of the trees having been cut away, and a greater breadth given to it. . . . .
I spent a part of the evening in looking over several volumes of the correspondence of the great Earl of Strafford and his friends, of which Lord Fitzwilliam has eight or ten, all autographs; and in talking with him about that stirring period of English history, with which he seems to be as familiar as we are with what has passed in our own times.
Some of the private letters of Strafford to his agent, the manager of his Yorkshire estates, and some about his wife's health, are very curious.
Those on political matters are grand, strong, decisive, as he was himself.
I do not know but Evelyn was right, when he called him ‘the wisest head in Europe.’
August 15.—. . . . After breakfast, I went with Lady Charlotte over some parts of the house that I cared to see again, looked at some of the fine pictures of the Italian school,—the Salvators, the so-called Raffaelle, the Titians,—and then the portraits of Strafford and his friends by Vandyck, which are certainly among the best Vandycks td be seen anywhere . . . . . But when I had taken this long walk through the interminable series of rooms,—that you cannot have forgotten,—it was time for me to go. They all sent, anew, kindest messages to you. Lord Fitzwilliam did not get up from his chair.
He took my hand in both of his, and was very much moved.
At last he said, ‘I hope we may meet again in a better place,’ and as I went away added, calling aloud after me, ‘Good by, dear Mr. Ticknor. God bless you.’ . . . .
At Rotherham I took the railroad and dashed on for Northumberland, . . . . arriving at our old friend Sir Walter Trevelyan's just as twilight was closing in. He lives about twelve miles from Morpeth, where I left the railroad, and in driving to his place—which is called Wallington—I passed through a broken country that looked very beautiful in the declining light.
On arriving, I was ushered into a grand saloon, where there was a bright coal-fire,—for the weather is chilly,—and found half a dozen or more people sitting
round it, and in different parts of the room.
I was most warmly received, . . . . and introduced to the party stopping with them, among whom are the youngest son of Percival, the Minister who was shot; Professor Donkin, Mathematical Professor at Oxford,—great in music,—with his wife; and a daughter of the late Dr. Buckland: all, as I find, accomplished and intellectual people, but—as you will readily guess—not more so than my host and hostess.
We made a pleasant evening of it . . . .
Sunday, August 16.—I find myself in the midst of a very rich and fine establishment.
Sir Walter has twenty-three thousand acres of land here, some of it moors, but the greater part very valuable as a grazing country and fully stocked with cattle; while in Somersetshire he has another estate of twelve thousand acres, which comes to him from the elder branch of the Raleighs. . . . . Everything is in perfect order. . . . . His village, the school-house, the house of his agent, and the parsonage, are all as neat and as comfortable as anything in the kingdom; the two last having, besides, a little air of refinement and elegance.
Everything, indeed, betokens knowledge and kindness.
His own house is of stone, a hundred feet square, built in the Italian fashion round a court.
But this court—as you will remember at Althorp—he has covered over, and made it into a superb music-room, running up through two stories, and about forty-five feet by thirty-five square, the walls of which he is now having painted with subjects from the local history of Northumberland, beginning with the building of the Roman wall.
Lady Trevelyan is painting the spaces between the pictures with native plants, and doing it in oils and from nature.
It is already a beautiful room.
One side of the house, looking out upon the lawn and flower-beds, has the dining-room, the saloon, and the library, all opening into each other; each above thirty feet long, with a good many pictures by Sir Joshua, and some by Italian artists, and the library filled with about six thousand volumes of books, after Sir Walter's own heart; many very curious, but all bought because he wanted them.
His chief studies, as you may remember, were in botany, mineralogy, and geology, but he has done a good deal in Oriental literature, and is very rich in old English—having been one of the Bannatyne Club --and in the local literature and history of Northumberland.
Indeed, it is a very precious library, and although I care nothing about one half of it, the other half interests me more than any similar collection of books that I have seen for a long time.
Besides this, he has up stairs a very extraordinary museum, containing
forty or fifty thousand curious articles in natural history and in art, collected by some of his ancestors, . . . . and greatly increased by himself and his wife in their manifold travellings, and brought into order by his own care.
It has, I understand, a considerable reputation with naturalists. . . . .
I went to church in the morning, a mile off, and the weather being as fine as possible, most of us walked. . . . . . The rest of the day I lounged about in the bright, beautiful sunshine with Mr. Percival, Professor Donkin, and Sir Walter . . . . In the evening we were in the saloon, where Sir Walter brought us a great many books to look at, which were new and interesting to me, and which, with his talk about them and Lady Trevelyan's, made the time seem very short. . . . . She is as active-minded, natural, and cordial as she ever was, with ways a little freer, and on that account more agreeable.
She said to-day that she was forty-one years old, but she is little changed from what she was when we knew her, and is as charming as any one I have seen for a long time . . . .
Monday, August 17.—After spending a couple of hours in the library, I went with Trevelyan to see his gardens and greenhouses, half a mile off, and, as he truly says, much too large for his establishment. . . . . We have abundant proof daily how fine they are, in the grapes, peaches, figs, etc., that come to the table.
Declining a drive, . . . . I walked with Trevelyan to one of his villages, and went into some of the houses, which I found as neat as possible, and talked with three or four of the people, who seemed intelligent, and quicker of comprehension, and more vigilant in observation, than is common to their class here.
Except their accent, I might have thought them to be good New-Englanders. . . . .
August 18.—Lady Trevelyan was at work this morning on the plants with which she is ornamenting her music-room.
She paints very successfully, and very faithfully.
Meantime, with her husband, I turned over above an hundred water-color sketches which she made in Greece, not so remarkable as works of art,—though very good,— but evidently full of truth, and not touched or finished up in the least afterwards.
But this was the last of my pleasures in this remarkable establishment, where I have enjoyed so much, for it was time to go. The whole party came with me to the door, . . . . bidding me good by, with many kind wishes that we might meet again, with all sorts of kind messages from the Trevelyans to you at home.
Indeed, I very much wished you had been with me there, you would have so enjoyed it.
August 19.—. . . . I left Derby . . . . late this morning; I was soon in the smother of the manufacturing district, and passing through Dudley came to Wolverhampton, where I took a cab, which in two hours brought me nineteen miles to Sir John Acton's, at Aldenham Park.
I arrived about four o'clock, was most heartily received, and came to my room, . . . . and went down to dinner at half past 7. . . . . Sir John's establishment, of which I have yet seen very little, is perfectly appointed, and in admirable order.
The house is as large as Trevelyan's, and not unlike it; and he, a young bachelor, can occupy only a small part of it. Nobody was at table except his chaplain, Mr. Morris, one of the Oxford convertites, and known for one of the first English scholars in Oriental and Sanscrit literature.
We were in the midst of the first course when your letters came; and I instantly read enough of them to give a new zest to the other courses.
Sir John was full of talk, and knowledge of books and things, and by the help of a cigar,—which the chaplain and I took, but not Sir John,—we went on till near midnight. He is certainly a most remarkable young man, and much advanced and ripened since we saw him.
August 20.-Sir John's estate here in Shropshire—he has lands elsewhere—consists of eight thousand acres, a part of which has been in his family above five centuries. His house, built about a hundred and fifty years ago, is in the Italian style of that period, and the court, in the centre of its quadrangle, has been covered in, and he is now making it into a grand library, books just at this time being his passion. . . . .
August 21.—Sir John lives here, somewhere between prince and hermit, in a most agreeable style.
Yesterday, before dinner, we took a long walk in the park, which I enjoyed very much, some of the prospects being admirable . . . . . He fills up all his time with reading, and is one of the most eager students I have ever known.
He will certainly make his mark on the world if he lives long enough. . . . . We lounged among his books, old and new, till dinner-time, which proved to-day to be near eight o'clock; dined quite alone at a luxurious and dainty table, and then had a solid and agreeable talk, one so solid and agreeable that it kept me up till nearly midnight again, which was not according to my purpose. . . . . My windows are open, and I look out both east and south into the park, where, besides the superb avenue, which is full before me, there are some of the grandest old trees I have seen in England, and on one side a very tasteful garden and the chapel, where mass is performed daily,
and where the chaplain lives.
It is a very beautiful establishment, and I have enjoyed very much the peculiar life I have led here the past two days, not overlooking its absolute quiet and peace as one of its attractive ingredients.
Malvern, August 23.—. . . . I was up in good season yesterday morning, and when breakfast was over I bade Acton farewell, thinking that it will be a long time before I see a man of his age so remarkable as he is. The drive was a beautiful one, first down his superb avenue, and then through his estates, and along by the banks of the Severn,—Milton's Severn,—or at least in its valley, to Kidderminster.
There I took the railway, which brought me to Worcester, and in an hour and a half more, in a sort of omnibus, I crept up the hills, . . . . and was tipped up, or let out, only a very short distance from the Twisletons', and climbing a little farther found them in the most comfortable quarters, . . . . that command the whole view that makes Malvern a resort so famous, for both invalids and lovers of the picturesque in nature.. .
I walked about with Ellen and her husband, dined with them, and talked on till near ten, when I came to a nice room they had taken for me, . . . . commanding the whole prospect. . . . . You see I keep on writing, although I suppose the portfolio on which my paper now lies will bring you the letter.
But it is a trick I have fallen into . . . . . So I sit with my windows open on the magnificent prospect, now brilliant with more than an English sunshine, and, as the Duke of Cumberland said to Gibbon, I ‘do nothing but scribble, scribble.’
Two delightful days Mr. Ticknor
thoroughly enjoyed in the midst of that grand and brilliant scenery, and in constant intercourse with most affectionate and intellectual friends.
On the 25th of August he parted from Mr.Twisleton
and Mrs. Twisleton
for the last time, with deep regret, and passing through Liverpool
went on to Ellerbeck, Mr. Cardwell
's seat, near Manchester
Nobody was at home to receive me except Mrs. Cardwell, a striking old lady of seventy-seven, who shook hands with me most kindly, and told me her son expected me,—but evidently did not know who I was,—adding, that the party would be in from Manchester very soon, where they were at the exhibition. . . . .
In about a quarter of an hour Mr. and Mrs. Cardwell came in, with Sir Edmund and Lady Head, . . . . and Lady Cranworth,—wife of
the Lord Chancellor . . . . . We had a most hearty meeting, and I felt at home at once . . . . We dined at eight, and had a most agreeable evening.
Sir Edmund is in great force; Lady Head is charming, as she always is; and Lady Cranworth is quite equal to her. Wednesday, August 26.—The estate of Ellerbeck is a large one; . . . . there is a good park, fine gardens and hot-houses, and a mansion which they are at this moment furnishing and fitting anew.
But everything is comfortable, and the cuisine, with some other parts of the establishment, luxurious.
Cardwell carried off all the honors at Oxford in his time; is still an excellent scholar; was five years a barrister, and then entered Parliament, became soon Secretary of the Treasury and President of the Board of Trade, which brought him into the cabinet of Sir Robert Peel, who left him one of his literary executors.
He has an abundance of capital anecdotes, which he tells in a most agreeable manner, and makes his house as pleasant as possible to his guests.
Immediately after breakfast all seven of the party set off for the exhibition in Manchester.
In the vestibule of the immense and well-proportioned building,— while the ladies were giving up their parasols and taking numbers for them,—a stout man, with the air of a police officer, leaned over the barrier to me, and said, ‘I want to speak to Sir Edmund Head.’
I touched Sir Edmund, and the man gave him a letter.
When he had read about half of it, he tossed it to me, saying a little impatiently, ‘That is too bad; it is the second time Labouchere has summoned me back to London, since I have been on this excursion.’
I read it through, and found he was sent for to be sworn in as a Privy Councillor; a great honor, which can be conferred on him only on Friday, as that is the last meeting of the Council for some weeks or months. . . .. After five minutes consultation, and making an appointment with Lady Head to meet her on Saturday at Tewksbury, he jumped into a cab, and was off for Ellerbeck and London.
As soon as he was gone the rest of us went into the exhibition.
At first I was much bewildered.
The building is so vast, and the number of pictures, statues, bronzes, engravings, drawings, and, in short, everything that can be called a work of art, is so immense, that, with five or six thousand people walking up and down, it was a very confusing scene.
But the arrangement is good, and gradually the whole became intelligible.
We first took a walk all round, and it was not a short one . . . . . The result on my mind was, that the Italian schools were not so strong as I expected to find them; the
Spanish stronger; and the drawings of the old masters very numerous and very remarkable.
We began then with the English school, which is, of course, the most amply represented, and gave a good deal of time to Hogarth, whose portraits are marvellous, and to Sir Joshua, whose works are of most unequal merit. . . . . The recent school was often excellent; Turner various and contradictory, but occasionally very fine; the Pre-Raffaellites ridiculous, almost without exception.
On the whole, the English school was never before, anywhere, seen in such force or to such advantage.
As we strolled round we picked up Gibson, the sculptor, who has come to stay at Cardwell's, and who is in all respects a very agreeable addition to our party. . . . . We dined late,—after eight o'clock,— but made nearly a three-hours' evening of it afterwards, so agreeable is the party, especially Lady Cranworth, than whom I have seen no lady in England more attractive and charming.
She has lately been on a visit to old Mrs. Wordsworth, to whom she constantly writes, and for whom she has a loving sort of veneration that is quite beautiful. . . . .
August 27.—I was up this morning in good season, . . . . writing letters, chiefly about the Library, and doing other Library work, which is now nearly finished.
As soon as breakfast was done Cardwell said, ‘Ladies, you have just fifteen minutes,’ and in less time we were all packed into the carriage, and on our way to the railroad.
The halls were not so full to-day, as the admission is two and sixpence instead of a shilling . . . . . We looked chiefly at pictures of note, and found our account in not permitting ourselves to be distracted.
The number of such pictures is larger than I thought at first.
There are a good many of the Dutch and Flemish schools that are first-rate. . . . . But the Murillos and Lord Hertford's collection are the glory of the whole exhibition.
Again we had a pleasant drive home and a most agreeable evening, which ended late with a reluctant parting from Lady Head.
August 28.—. . . . We fretted, at breakfast, at the diminution of our party, and Lady Cranworth threatens that when the Lord Chancellor comes, by and by, she will ask him to lay an injunction that I shall not go out of the kingdom.
Indeed, Cardwell has made a sharp calculation that I can reach Liverpool to-morrow, an hour and a half before the steamer sails, even if I stop to-night, and I have agreed to do it, although my arrangements had all been made to sleep at the Adelphi before embarking.
We breakfasted, as usual, somewhat late, but were off punctually.
For the last time I went through all the halls, looking a little more carefully than I had done before at the majolicas and other curious objets d'art, but coming back at last to the great masters, few and far between, to take my parting look at them, for I shall never again behold any of them in this world.
Lord Cranworth arrived hot from the Woolsack, and overflowing with talk; a kindly old man, such exactly as I thought him in London, and very frank in expressing his opinions.
We listened, of course, with much interest to his accounts of the last days of the session, the quarrels about the Divorce Bill, and the London gossip generally, that he brought with him, sitting up till quite one o'clock to enjoy it.
August 29.—Breakfast was a little earlier, to make sure of my arrival in Liverpool, or rather at the railway station, in season, for, as I told them yesterday, there must be no slip between Ellerbeck and the side of the Europa.
All were punctual, and said many kind things about my going away . . . . . But at ten I was off, the party following me to the door, and at half past 11 I was in Liverpool, having found Hawthorne in the cars, to enliven my last moments.
I drove straight to the Barings', and got a plenty of letters, but opened only Anna's thoughtful, charming little note of the 14th, which had not been in Liverpool two hours, and which will make my voyage cheerful and bright as nothing else can.
Then I went to the Adelphi, and found a note from Ellen Twisleton, and then to a bookseller's for something to read.
My time was now all gone.
Just before one o'clock I was on board the steamer.
Bright came to take leave of me, full of life and cordiality, as he always is, and sent kind words to all of you, which I shall bring.