Chapter 5: travel 1843-1844; aet. 24-25
In the forties it was no uncommon thing for a sister or friend of the bride to form one of the wedding party when a journey was to be taken; accordingly Annie Ward went with the Howes and shared the pleasures of a notable year. She was at this time seventeen; it was said of her that “she looked so like a lily-of-the-valley that one expected to see two long green leaves spring up beside her as she walked.” Horace Mann and his bride (Mary Peabody, sister of Mrs. Nathaniel Hawthorne) sailed on the same steamer; the friends met afterward in London and elsewhere. The first days at sea were rough and uncomfortable. Julia writes to her sister Louisa:-- “I have had two days of extreme suffering, and look like the Chevalier's grandmother. To-day I am on deck, able to eat soup and herring, with grog in small doses. Husband very kind, takes good care of me. I am good for nothing, but try to be courageous. Mr.Mann and Mrs. Mann are very loving; she wears a monstrous  sunbonnet; he lies down in his overcoat.... Brandy and water are consoling; Dr. won't give us much, though.... I could not get off my boots until last night, I was so ill; I slept all the time, and forgot that Annie was on board.... When you do get married, don't leave in four days for Europe.... Don't forget cake for my orphans.... Mrs. Mann wrote to me yesterday, and recommended lemonade. I wrote back to her, and recommended leeks and onions....” And again, several days later:--
I have been
In dangers of the sea and land, unscared;
And from the narrow gates of childbed oft
Have issued, bearing high my perilous prize
(The germ of angel-hood, from chaos rescued),
With steadfast hope and courageJ. W. H.
Although the ship is very tipsy, and makes my head and hand unsteady, I am anxious to write to you that you may see what a brave sailor I am become, for to write at sea one must be quite well. I am ashamed to have written you so sea-sick a letter near Halifax, but I was then just out of my berth, and very miserable. Since that time, I have not once laid by — we have had some rough days, but I have always held up my head, and eaten my dinner, “helping myself sang-froidy” to all manner of good things. At first, I could not do without brandy and water, but in a little while I ceased to require it; now I go tumbling about all over the ship, singing at the top of my voice, teasing Chevalier, and comforting the sea-sick.... I live on deck, rain or shine. Annie stays too much in the cabin, which is strewn with sick ladies, and grannies of the other sex, and which ever resounds with cries of “Mrs. Bean! Mrs. Bean! soda water! Mrs. Bean, soup! Mrs. Bean, gruel with brandy in it! Mrs. Bean, hold my head! Mrs. Bean, wag my jaws!” Mrs. Bean is the stewardess, and an angel....  Saturday morning. We are now in sight of land, and in smooth water.... Annie and I were getting very much used to the ship, and are just in fine trim for a long voyage. I even miss the rolling and pitching which we have had until to-day, and which made it necessary to walk with great circumspection. You would have laughed to have seen us, going about like tipsy witches. I have had various tumbles. I confess that when the ship rolled and I felt myself going, I generally made for the stoutest man in sight, and pitched into him, the result being various apologies on both sides, and great merriment on the part of the spectators — a little of the old mischief left, you see. The old cow began to smell the land yesterday, she reared and bellowed, and butted at the butcher when he went to milk her. This is her third voyage. I cannot tell you how good my husband is, how kind, how devoted ....Arriving in London, they took lodgings in upper Baker Street. This first visit to London was one which our mother always loved to recall. Not only had the pair brought letters to many notabilities, but Dr. Howe's reputation had preceded him, and every reader of Dickens's “American notes” was eager to meet the man who had brought a soul out of prison. Julia writes to her sister Louisa (June 17):-- “I have said something,--I can hardly say enough, of the kindness we have received here. London seems already a home to us, and one surrounded by dear friends. Morpeth and his family, Rogers, Basil Montagu, and Sir R. H. Inglis have been our best friends. Travel  Sydney Smith also has been kind to us; he calls Howe ‘Prometheus,’ and says that he gave a soul to an inanimate body. For four mornings, we have not once breakfasted at home. Milnes gave us one very nice breakfast; among the guests was Charles Buller, celebrated here for his wit and various endowments. The two handsomest women I have seen are Mrs. Norton and the Duchess of Sutherland — the former of these rather a haughty beauty, with flashing eye and swelling lip, and dress too low for our notions of proprietythis is common enough here....” The Doctor was lame (the result of an accident on shipboard), and the Reverend Sydney Smith, one of their earliest visitors, insisted on lending him his own crutches. The Doctor demurred; he was tall, while Canon Smith was short and stout. The crutches were sent, nevertheless. They could not be used, and were returned with thanks; not so soon, however, but that the kind and witty Canon made of the incident a peg on which to hang a jest. He had lost money by American investments; in a letter published in a London paper, after reflecting severely upon the failure of some of the Western States to pay their debts, he added: “And now an American doctor has deprived me of my last means of support!” Sydney Smith proved genuinely kind and solicitous. He writes to the Doctor:-- “You know as well as I do, or better, that nature charges one hundred per cent for a bad leg used before the proper time, and that if you use it a day sooner than you ought, it may molest you for a month longer  than you expect. This being; [sic] if your ladies will trust themselves to me any day, I shall have great pleasure in escorting them in their sight-seeing, and will call upon them with my carriage, if that be possible.” He did take them about a great deal; they dined with him, and passed more than one delightful evening at his house. Another of their early visitors was Charles Dickens. Not only did he invite them to dine, but he took them to all manner of places unfamiliar to the ordinary tourist: to prisons, workhouses, and asylums, more interesting to the Chevalier than theatre or picture-gallery. There were even expeditions to darker places, when Julia and Annie must stay at home. Dr. Howe's affair was with all sorts and conditions of men, and the creator of Joe and Oliver Twist, the child of the Marshalsea, could show him things that no one else could. The following note, in Dickens's unmistakable handwriting, shows how these expeditions were managed, and how he enjoyed them:--
Horace Mann was of the party on most of these investigations.  Beside dinners and evening parties, there were breakfasts, with Richard Monckton Milnes (afterward Lord Houghton), with Samuel Rogers,--who gave them plovers' eggs,--and with jovial Sir Robert Harry Inglis, who cut the loaf at either end, giving the guests “a slice or a hunch” at their desire. This meal, our mother notes, was not “a luncheon in disguise,” but a genuine breakfast, at ten or even half-past 9 o'clock. She writes to her sister Louisa:--
People have been very kind to us — we have one or two engagements for every day this week, and had three dinners for one day, two of which we were, of course, forced to decline. We had a pleasant dinner at Dickens's, on Saturday--a very handsome entertainment, consisting of all manner of good things. Dickens led me in to dinner — waxed quite genial over his wine, and was more natural than I ever saw him-after dinner we had coffee, conversation and music, to which I lent my little wee voice! We did not get home until half-past 11.... Annie has doubtless told you how we went to see Carlyle, and Mrs. was out, and I poured tea for him, and he handed me the preserves with: “I do not know what thae little things are, perhaps you can eat them — I never touch them myself.” This naturally made me laugh — we had a strange but pleasant evening with him — he is about forty, looks young for that, drinks powerful tea, and then goes it strong upon all subjects, but without extravagancehe has a fine head, an earnest face, a glowing eye.... Furthermore, we have walked into the affections of the  Hon. Basil Montagu, and Mrs. Basil--furthermore, Annie and I did went alone to a rout at Mrs. Sydney Smith's, and were announced, “Mrs. 'Owe hand Miss Vord” --did not know a soul, Annie frightened, I bored — got hold of some good people — made friends, drank execrable tea, finished the evening by a crack with Sir Sydney himself, and came off victorious, that is to say alive. Sir S. very like old Mrs. Prime, three chins, and such a corporosity!... Saturday, June 2nd. We have been too busy to write. We dined on Wednesday with Kenyon — present Dickens's wife, Fellows, Milnes and some others — Milnes a pert little prig, but pleasant. A propos, when he came to call upon us, our girl announced him as “Mr. Miller” --our conversation ran upon literature, and I had the exquisite discrimination to tell him that except Wordsworth, there were no great poets in England now. Fortunately he soon took his departure, and thus prevented me from expressing the light estimation in which I hold his poetry. On Thursday Morpeth gave us a beautiful dinner--thirteen servants in the hall, powdered heads, Lady Carlisle very like Morpeth--Lady Mary Howard not pretty; Duchess of Sutherland, beautiful, but like Lizzie Hogg. They gave us strawberries, the first we have tasted, green peas, pines, peaches, apricots, grapes — all very expensive. We stayed until nearly twelve--they were very gracious-Annie and I are little people here — we are too young(?) to be noticed — we are very demure, and have learned humility. Chev receives a great deal of attention, ladies press forward to look at him, roll up  their eyes, and exclaim, “Oh! He is such a wonner!” I do not like that the pretty women should pay him so many compliments — it will turn his little head! He is now almost well, and so handsome! the wrinkles are almost gone-Yesterday, Sir Robert Inglis gin us a treat in the shape of a breakfast — it was very pleasant, albeit Sir R. is very pious, and a Tory to boot. We had afterward a charming visit from Carlyle — in the evening we went to Landsdowne House, to a concert given by the Marquis — heard Grisi, Lablache, Mario, Standigl, were much pleased — I was astonished, though, to find that our little trio at home was not bad, even in comparison with these stars. They have, of course, infinitely better voices, but hang me if they sing with half the enthusiasm and fire of our old Sam and Cousi, or even of poor Dudy. Grisi's voice is beautifully clear and flute-like — Mario sings si-be-mol and natural with perfect ease. I was most interested in the German Standigl, who sang the Wanderer with wonderful pathos. Lablache thundered away — I must see them on the stage before I shall be able to judge of them. After music we had supper. Willie Wad 1 was indefatigable in our service. “Go, and bring us a great deal more lemonade!” these were our oftrepeated orders, and the good Geneseo trotted to the table for us, till, as he expressed it, “he was ashamed to go any more.” Lansdowne is a devilish good fellow! ho! ho! He wears a blue belt across his diaphragm, and a silver star on his left breast — he jigs up and down the room, and makes himself at home in his own  house. He is about sixty, with Marchioness to match; side dishes, I presume, but did not inquire. I have just been breakfasting at the Duke of Sutherland's superb palace. I will tell you next time about it. Lady Carlisle says I am nice and pretty, oh! how I love her! . .In another letter she says:-- “I take some interest in everything I see — especially in all that throws light upon human prog. The Everetts 2 have given us a beautiful and most agreeable dinner: Dickens, Mrs. Norton, Moore, Landseer, and one or two others. Rogers says: ‘I have three pleasures in the day: the first is, when I get up in the morning, and scratch myself with my hair mittens; the second is when I dress for dinner, and scratch myself with my hair mittens; the third is when I undress at night, and scratch myself with my hair mittens.’ . ..” Beside this feast of hospitality, there was the theatre, with Macready and Helen Faucit in the “Lady of Lyons,” and the opera, with Grisi and Mario, Alboni and Persiani. Julia, who had been forbidden the theatre since her seventh year, enjoyed to the full both music and drama, but “the crowning ecstasy of all” she found in the ballet, of which Fanny Elssler and Cerito were the stars. The former was beginning to wane; the dancing which to Emerson and Margaret Fuller seemed “poetry and religion” had lost, perhaps, something of its magic; the latter was still in her early bloom and grace. Years later, our mother suggested to Theodore Parker that “the best stage dancing gives the classic, in a  fluent form, with the illumination of life and personality.” She recalled nothing sensual or even sensuous in the dances she saw that season, only “the very ectasy and embodiment of grace.” (But the Doctor thought Cerito ought to be sent to the House of Correction!) Among the English friends, the one to whom our parents became most warmly attached was Lord Morpeth, afterwards Earl of Carlisle. This gentleman proved a devoted friend. Not only did he show the travellers every possible attention in London, but finding that they were planning a tour through Wales, Ireland, and Scotland, he made out with great care an itinerary for them, giving the roads by which they should travel and the points of interest they should visit. Very reluctantly they left the London of so many delights, and started on the prescribed tour, following in the main the lines laid down by their kind friend.
The visit to Scotland was all too hasty, the notes are mere brief jottings; at the end she “remembered but one thing, the grave of Scott. In return for all the delight he had given me, I had nothing to give him but my silent tears.”  The end of July found the party once more in England. The following letter tells of the unlucky visit to Wordsworth which our mother (after forty-six years) describes from memory in her “Reminiscences” in slightly different terms.
From England the travellers had meant to go to Berlin, but the King of Prussia, who eleven years before had kept Dr. Howe in prison au secret for five weeks for carrying (at the request of General Lafayette) succor to certain Polish refugees, still regarded him as a  dangerous person, and Prussia was closed to him and his. This greatly amused Horace Mann, who wrote to the Doctor, “I understand the King of Prussia has about 200,000 men constantly under arms, and if necessary he can increase his force to two millions. This shows the estimation in which he holds your single self!” Years later, the King sent Dr. Howe a gold medal in consideration of his work for the blind: by a singular coincidence, its money value was found to equal the sum which the Doctor had been forced to pay for board and lodging in the prison of Berlin. Making a detour, the party journeyed through Switzerland and the Austrian Tyrol, spent some weeks in Vienna, and a month in Milan, where they met Count Gonfalonieri, one of the prisoners of Spielberg. Julia had known two of these sufferers, Foresti and Albinola, in New York, where they lived for many years, beloved and respected. Hearing the talk of these men, and seeing Italy bound hand and foot in temporal and spiritual fetters, she was deeply impressed by the apparent hopelessness of the outlook for the Italian patriots. By what miracle, she asked herself long afterward, was the great structure overthrown? She adds, “The remembrance of this miracle forbids me to despair of any great deliverance, desired and delayed. He who maketh the wrath of men to serve Him, can make liberty blossom out of the very rod that the tyrant [wields].” Southward still they journeyed, by vettura, in the old leisurely fashion, and came at last to Rome.  The thrill of wonder that Julia felt at the first sight of St. Peter's dome across the Campagna was one of the abiding impressions of her life; Rome was to be one of the cities of her heart; the charm was cast upon her in that first moment. Yet she says of that Rome of 1843, “A great gloom and silence hung over it.” The houses were cold, and there were few conveniences; but Christmas found the Howes established in the Via San Niccolo da Tolentino, as comfortably as might be. Here they were joined by Louisa Ward, and here they soon gathered round them a delightful circle of friends. Most of the forestieri of Rome in those days were artists; among those who came often to the house were Thomas Crawford, Luther Terry, Freeman the painter and his wife, and Ttirmer, who painted a portrait of Julia. The winter passed like a dream. There were balls as gorgeous as those of London, with the beautiful Princess Torlonia in place of the Duchess of Sutherland; musical parties, at which Diva sang to the admiration of all. There were visits to the galleries, where George Combe was of the party, and where he and the Chevalier studied the heads of statues and busts from the point of view of phrenology, a theory in which both were deeply interested. They were presented to the Pope, Gregory XVI, who wished to hear about Laura Bridgman. The Chevalier visited all the “public institutions, misnamed charitable,” 3 and the schools, whose masters were amazed to find that he was an American, and asked how in that case it happened that he was not black!  In her “Reminiscences” our mother records many vivid impressions of these Roman days. She had forgotten, or did not care to recall, a certain languor and depression of spirits which in some measure dimmed for her the brightness of the picture, but which were to give place to the highest joy she had yet known. On March 12, her first child was born, and was christened Julia Romana. There are neither journals nor letters of this period; the only record of it — from her hand — lies in two slender manuscript books of verse, marked respectively “1843” and “1844.” In these volumes we trace her movements, sometimes by the title of a poem, as “Sailing,” “The ladies of Llangollen,” “The Roman beggar boy,” etc., sometimes by a single word written after the poem, “Berne,” “Milan.” From these poems we learn that she did not expect to survive the birth of her child; yet with that birth a new world opened before her.
He gave the Mother's chastened heart,When, in the spring of 1844, she left Rome with husband, sister, and baby, it seemed, she says, “like returning to the living world after a long separation from it.”  Journeying by way of Naples, Marseilles, Avignon, they came at length to Paris. Here Julia first saw Rachel, and Taglioni, the greatest of all dancers; here, too, she tried to persuade the Chevalier to wear his Greek decorations to Guizot's reception, but tried in vain, he considering such ornaments unfitting a republican. The autumn found them again in England, this time to learn the delights of country visiting. Their first visit was to Atherstone, the seat of Charles Nolte Bracebridge, a descendant of Lady Godiva, a most cultivated and delightful man. He and his charming wife made the party welcome, and showed them everything of interest except the family ghost, which remained invisible. Another interesting visit was to the Nightingales of Embley. Florence Nightingale was at this time a young woman of twenty-four. A warm friendship sprang up between her and our parents, and she felt moved to consult the Doctor on the matter which then chiefly occupied her thoughts. Would it, she asked, be unsuitable or unbecoming for a young Englishwoman to devote herself to works of charity, in hospitals and elsewhere, as the Catholic Sisters did? The Doctor replied: “My dear Miss Florence, it would be unusual, and in England whatever is unusual is apt to be thought unsuitable; but I say to you, go forward, if you have a vocation for that way of life; act up to your inspiration, and you will find that there is never anything unbecoming or unladylike in doing your duty for the good of others. Choose your path,  go on with it, wherever it may lead you, and God be with you!” Among the people they met in the autumn of 1844 was Professor Fowler, the phrenologist. This gentleman examined Julia's head, and made the following pronunciamento:-- “You're a deep one! it takes a Yankee to find you out. The intellectual temperament predominates in your character. You will be a central character like Henry Clay and Silas Wright, and people will group themselves around you.” Now Julia could not abide Professor Fowler. “Oh, yes!” she snapped out angrily. “They've always been my models!” “The best things you do,” he went on, “will be done on the spur of the moment. You have enough love of order to enjoy it, but you will not take the trouble to produce it. You have more religion than morality. You have genius, but no music in you by nature.” Fifty years later these words were fresh in her memory. “I disliked Mr. Fowler extremely,” she said, “and believed nothing of what he said; nevertheless, most of his predictions were verified. I had at the time no leading in any of the directions he indicated. I had been much shut up in personal and family life; was a person rather of antipathies than sympathies. His remarks made no impression. Yet,” she added, “I always had a sense of relation to the public, but thought the connection would come through writing.”  Apropos of Mr. Fowler's “more religion than morality,” she said: “Morality is a thing of the will; we may think differently of such matters at different times. What he said may have been true.” Then the twinkle came into her eyes: “When Mr. William Astor heard of my engagement, he said, ‘Why, Miss Julia, I am surprised! I thought you were too intellectual to marry!’ ” Another acquaintance of this autumn was the late Arthur Mills, who was through life one of our parents' most valued friends. He came to America with them; in his honor, during the voyage, Julia composed “The Milsiad,” scribbling the lines day by day in a little note-book, still carefully preserved in the Mills family. The first and last stanzas give an idea of this poem, which, though never printed, was always a favorite with its author.
He gave the Mother's watchful eye,
He bids me live but where thou art,
And look with earnest prayer on high.
Then spake the angel of Mothers
To me in gentle tone:
“Be kind to the children of others
And thus deserve thine own!”
My heart fills
With the bare thought of the illustrious Mills:
That man of eyes and nose,
Of legs and arms, of fingers and of toes.
To lands devoid of tax
Goeth he not, armed with axe?
Trees shall he cut down,
And forests ever?
Tame cataracts with a frown?
Grin all the fish from Mississippi River?
(My style is grandiose,
Quite in the tone of Mills's nose.)
Harp of the West, through wind and foggy weather
We've sung our passage to our native land,
Now I have reached the terminus of tether, 
And I must lay thee trembling from my hand.
That hand must ply the ignominious needle,
This mind brood o'er the salutary dish,
I must grow sober as a parish beadle,
And having fish to fry, must fry my fish.
Some happier muse than mine shall wake thy spell,
Harp of the West, oh Gemini! farewell!