Chapter 8: to England and the Continent.—1867.In May, Garrison accompanies George Thompson to England. He visits the continent for the first time and makes the acquaintance of the French Liberals, and in August participates (as a delegate of the American Freedman's Union Commission) in the International Anti-slavery Conference at Paris. In June he is honored with a public breakfast in London, presided over by John Bright, to which an International significance is given by Earl Russell's confession of his injustice towards the North during the civil war. Similar honors are bestowed upon him in various parts of the kingdom, particularly from the workingmen and from the temperance organizations, and he is presented with the freedom of the city of Edinburgh. A tour in Switzerland intervenes.
From the time the destruction of slavery was an assured fact, Mr. Garrison had cherished the hope that he might once more revisit his transatlantic coadjutors, and rejoice with them that Cowper's boast, ‘Slaves cannot breathe in England!’ could now be applied to America. The fact that his daughter and her husband, and his youngest son, were then abroad and urging him to join them; the hope that travel and change of scene might accelerate his recovery; the temptation to visit the International Exposition at Paris; and an appointment by the American Freedman's Union Commission to represent it at an International Anti-Slavery Conference to be held in that city in August,—all combined to determine his going, and George Thompson, after three years residence in America, decided to return to England with him. On the 8th of May, they sailed together from Boston on the Cuba. A host of friends gathered at East Boston to see them off, and preparations had been made to escort them down the harbor with the Revenue Cutter, which Collector Russell offered for the purpose, but a heavy rain1 prevented this. Mr. Waterston, of the Testimonial2 Committee, announced to Mr. Garrison that Thirty Thousand Dollars had been collected and placed to his credit, and as the Cuba swung into the stream and began her voyage, the guns of the gaily dressed Revenue Cutter fired a parting salute in his honor, which was repeated by the boys of the School Ship Massachusetts, who manned the yards of that vessel and gave three rousing cheers.  The voyage to Liverpool was quick and uneventful.3 Mr. Garrison proceeded directly to Paris, parting with Mr. Thompson at London, and crossing the Channel, for4 the first time, between Folkestone and Boulogne. The wretched accommodation for passengers on the Channel steamers amazed him, and in trying to compute the yearly aggregate of misery caused thereby to tens of thousands of travellers, he became, as he declared, ‘too indignant to be seasick.’ The next four weeks he devoted to sightseeing in Paris, in company with his children, and was charmed by the gay and brilliant city. He made many visits to the great Exposition, and never wearied of strolling or driving through the parks and along the boulevards, or of excursions to St. Cloud and Versailles. The shop windows had an especial fascination for him. He had never before shown any interest in diamonds or precious stones, but the great jewelry shops in the Palais Royal arcades fairly dazzled him. Every day brought its novel experience, and was so fully occupied that he found scant time for recording his impressions; hence, his letters present little that is quotable. He saw the great military display of the 6th of June, when Napoleon entertained his guests the Czar Alexander and King William of Prussia (accompanied by Bismarck) with a review of sixty thousand troops in the Bois de Boulogne. ‘As a spectacle,’ he wrote,
it was the most gorgeous and5 the most imposing of any I have ever witnessed, or ever expect to witness. The sun shone clearly out, adding to the brilliancy and effectiveness of the scene. . . . Of course, in a moral point of view, this mighty warlike display gave me no pleasure, but rather much pain at seeing such a perversion of human nature in support of usurpation and oppression. As the royal party rode out of the park, they were fired upon by a Pole, who doubtless intended to kill the Emperor of Russia, but he only succeeded in killing the horse of an officer riding by the side of the royal carriage, the pistol bursting in his hand. He was immediately arrested. I have dined with Madame Coignet and Miss Dowling, who have been at the head of the Freedmen's movement in Paris.  . . . I there met the Editor of the Journal des Debats, but as6 he could not speak English, nothing passed between us. I have also dined with Monsieur Tourgueneff, my Russian admirer,7 and a nobleman by nature as well as by station. . . . I have also had a very agreeable interview with the celebrated Professor Laboulaye, who strongly reminded me, in his sweet,8 gentle manners, and in the shape of his head, of the lamented Professor Follen. Even he is not allowed to address a class or9 assemblage of persons in more than two places in the whole city of Paris! Everything here is under governmental espionage and dictation, and therefore in a volcanic condition, although the volcano is capped for the present.Mr. Garrison met still another eminent Frenchman:10
Two or three days ago, I wrote a letter to M. Cochin,11 expressive of my admiration of his character and works in relation to Slavery and the Results of Emancipation, and my desire to have an interview with him, if agreeable, before leaving Paris for London. He immediately wrote a very cordial note in reply, and then drove in his carriage a long distance to our hotel, and sent up his card, with the letter. As I happened to be all alone, . . . I could not read his letter, which was written in French; and as the servant who brought me the letter and card could not understand a word of English, I could not make any response; and so M. Cochin had to drive home without seeing me! He left an invitation to have me take breakfast with him the next morning, and Harry, at my request,12 went along with me to act as my interpreter. We were very heartily received; but though Cochin, I am assured, can speak very well in English, yet his diffidence was apparently so great about it that he chose to carry on the conversation wholly in French, talking with great fluency and animation, Harry interpreting what he said as he went along. We stopped only twenty or thirty minutes, declining to take the breakfast which we saw spread in another room, though he assured us that his wife (whom we did not see, as she probably expected to see me at breakfast) could speak English readily. Cochin is in the prime of life, has a fine countenance, and in his manners is a finished gentleman, as well as one of the most eminent men in France for his literary and scientific ability. His family descent is old and high.This was only one of many experiences in which his ignorance of any language but his own was a sad drawback  to Mr. Garrison's happiness. He was, however, constantly meeting countrymen and friends in Paris, and he was pleased to be recognized and addressed by two of the colored waiters at the American restaurant of the Exposition. He spent a very agreeable evening with William13 Cullen Bryant, whom he had never before met, and who had been appointed a fellow-delegate with him to the Anti-Slavery Conference. On the 15th of June he returned to London, accompanied by his daughter and son. He had little time for looking about the city and noting the changes since his last visit in 1846, before he was overwhelmed by letters and notes of invitation, and proffered courtesies from friends in London and in other parts of the kingdom. After George Thompson, his first call was on John Bright, whom he happened never to have met in his previous visits. Their interview was delightful for its cordiality and14 informality, seeming rather like the meeting of old friends. The next day he paid his respects to the