Chapter 9: sunny memories, 1853.
- Crossing the Atlantic. -- arrival in England. -- reception in Liverpool. -- welcome to Scotland. -- a Glasgow tea-party. -- Edinburgh hospitality. -- Aberdeen. -- Dundee and Birmingham. -- Joseph Sturge. -- Elihu Burritt. -- London. -- the Lord Mayor's dinner. -- Charles Dickens and his wife.
The journey undertaken by Mrs. Stowe with her husband and brother through England and Scotland, and afterwards with her brother alone over much of the Continent, was one of unusual interest. No one was more surprised than Mrs. Stowe herself by the demonstrations of respect and affection that everywere greeted her. Fortunately an unbroken record of this memorable journey, in Mrs. Stowe's own words, has been preserved, and we are thus able to receive her own impressions of what she saw, heard, and did, under circumstances that were at once pleasant, novel, and embarrassing. Beginning with her voyage, she writes as follows:--
Liverpool, April 11, 1853.My dear children,--You wish, first of all, to hear of the voyage. Let me assure you, my dears, in the very commencement of the matter, that going to sea is not at all the thing that we have taken it to be. Let me warn you, if you ever go to sea, to omit all  preparations for amusement on shipboard. Don't leave so much as the unlocking of a trunk to be done after sailing. In the few precious minutes when the ship stands still, before she weighs her anchor, set your house, that is to say your stateroom, as much in order as if you were going to be hanged; place everything in the most convenient position to be seized without trouble at a moment's notice; for be sure that in half an hour after sailing, an infinite desperation will seize you, in which the grasshopper will be a burden. If anything is in your trunk, it might almost as well be in the sea, for any practical probability of your getting to it. Our voyage out was called “a good run.” It was voted unanimously to be “an extraordinary good passage,” “a pleasant voyage;” yet the ship rocked the whole time from side to side with a steady, dizzy, continuous motion, like a great cradle. I had a new sympathy for babies, poor little things, who are rocked hours at a time without so much as a “by your leave” in the case. No wonder there are so many stupid people in the world! We arrived on Sunday morning: the custom-house officers, very gentlemanly men, came on board; our luggage was all set out, and passed through a rapid examination, which in many cases amounted only to opening the trunk and shutting it, and all was over. The whole ceremony did not occupy two hours. We were inquiring of some friends for the most convenient hotel, when we found the son of Mr. Cropper, of Dingle Bank, waiting in the cabin to take us with him to their hospitable abode. In a few moments after  the baggage had been examined, we all bade adieu to the old ship, and went on board the little steam tender which carries passengers up to the city. This Mersey River would be a very beautiful one, if it were not so dingy and muddy. As we are sailing up in the tender towards Liverpool, I deplore the circumstance feelingly. “ What does make this river so muddy?” “ Oh,” says a by-stander, “don't you know that
The quality of mercy is not strained?” I had an early opportunity of making acquaintance with my English brethren; for, much to my astonishment, I found quite a crowd on the wharf, and we walked up to our carriage through a long lane of people, bowing, and looking very glad to see us. When I came to get into the hack it was surrounded by more faces than I could count. They stood very quietly, and looked very kindly, though evidently very much determined to look. Something prevented the hack from moving on; so the interview was prolonged for some time. Our carriage at last drove on, taking us through Liverpool and a mile or two out, and at length wound its way along the gravel paths of a beautiful little retreat, on the banks of the Mersey, called the “Dingle.” It opened to my eyes like a paradise, all wearied as I was with the tossing of the sea. I have since become familiar with these beautiful little spots, which are so common in England; but now all was entirely new to me. After a short season allotted to changing our ship garments and for rest, we found ourselves seated at the  dinner table. While dining, the sister-in-law of our friends came in from the next door, to exchange a word or two of welcome, and invite us to breakfast with them the following morning. The next morning we slept late and hurried to dress, remembering our engagement to breakfast with the brother of our host, whose cottage stands on the same ground, within a few steps of our own. I had not the slightest idea of what the English mean by a breakfast, and therefore went in all innocence, supposing I should see nobody but the family circle of my acquaintances. Quite to my astonishment, I found a party of between thirty and forty people; ladies sitting with their bonnets on, as in a morning call. It was impossible, however, to feel more than a momentary embarrassment in the friendly warmth and cordiality of the circle by whom we were surrounded. In the evening I went into Liverpool to attend a party of friends of the anti-slavery cause. When I was going away, the lady of the house said that the servants were anxious to see me; so I came into the dressing-room to give them an opportunity. The next day was appointed to leave Liverpool. A great number of friends accompanied us to the cars, and a beautiful bouquet of flowers was sent with a very affecting message from a sick gentleman, who, from the retirement of his chamber, felt a desire to testify his sympathy. We left Liverpool with hearts a little tremulous and excited by the vibration of an atmosphere of universal sympathy and kindness, and found ourselves, at length, shut from the warm adieu of our friends, in a snug compartment of the railroad car.  “ Dear me!” said Mr. S.; “six Yankees shut up in a car together! Not one Englishman to tell us anything about the country! Just like the six old ladies that made their living by taking tea at each other's houses!” What a bright lookout we kept for ruins and old houses! Mr. S., whose eyes are always in every place, allowed none of us to slumber, but looking out, first on his own side and then on ours, called our attention to every visible thing. If he had been appointed on a mission of inquiry, he could not have been more zealous and faithful, and I began to think that our desire for an English cicerone was quite superfluous. Well, we are in Scotland at last, and now our pulse rises as the sun declines in the west. We catch glimpses of Solway Frith and talk about Redgauntlet. The sun went down and night drew on; still we were in Scotland. Scotch ballads, Scotch tunes, and Scotch literature were in the ascendant. We sang “Auld Lang Syne,” “Scots wha hae,” and Bonnie Doon, and then, changing the key, sang “Dundee,” “Elgin,” and “Martyr.” “Take care,” said Mr. S.; “don't get too much excited.” “ Ah,” said I, “this is a thing that comes only once in a lifetime; do let us have the comfort of it. We shall never come into Scotland for the first time again.” While we were thus at the fusion point of enthusiasm, the cars stopped at Lockerbie. All was dim and dark outside, but we soon became conscious that there was quite a number of people collected, peering into the window; and with a strange kind of thrill, I heard  my name inquired for in the Scottish accent. I went to the window; there were men, women, and children gathered, and hand after hand was presented, with the words, “Ye're welcome to Scotland!” Then they inquired for and shook hands with all the party, having in some mysterious manner got the knowledge of who they were, even down to little G., whom they took to be my son. Was it not pleasant, when I had a heart so warm for this old country? I shall never forget the thrill of those words, “Ye're welcome to Scotland,” nor the “Gude night.” After that we found similar welcomes in many succeeding stopping-places; and though I did wave a towel out of the window, instead of a pocket handkerchief, and commit other awkwardnesses, from not knowing how to play my part, yet I fancied, after all, that Scotland and we were coming on well together. Who the good souls were that were thus watching for us through the night, I am sure I do not know; but that they were of the “one blood” which unites all the families of the earth, I felt. At Glasgow, friends were waiting in the stationhouse. Earnest, eager, friendly faces, ever so many. Warm greetings, kindly words. A crowd parting in the middle, through which we were conducted into a carriage, and loud cheers of welcome, sent a throb, as the voice of living Scotland. I looked out of the carriage, as we drove on, and saw, by the light of a lantern, Argyll Street. It was past twelve o'clock when I found myself in a warm, cosy parlor, with friends whom I have ever since been glad to remember. In a little time we were all safely  housed in our hospitable apartments, and sleep fell on me for the first time in Scotland. The next morning I awoke worn and weary, and scarce could the charms of the social Scotch breakfast restore me. Our friend and host was Mr. Bailie Paton. I believe that it is to his suggestion in a public meeting that we owe the invitation which brought us to Scotland. After breakfast the visiting began. First, a friend of the family, with three beautiful children, the youngest of whom was the bearer of a handsomely bound album, containing a pressed collection of the sea-mosses of the Scottish coast, very vivid and beautiful. All this day is a confused dream to me of a dizzy and overwhelming kind. So many letters that it took brother Charles from nine in the morning till two in the afternoon to read and answer them in the shortest manner; letters from all classes of people, high and low, rich and poor, in all shades and styles of composition, poetry and prose; some mere outbursts of feeling; some invitations; some advice and suggestions; some requests and inquiries; some presenting books, or flowers, or fruit. Then came, in their turn, deputations from Paisley, Greenock, Dundee, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, and Belfast in Ireland; calls of friendship, invitations of all descriptions to go everywhere, and to see everything, and to stay in so many places. One kind, venerable minister, with his lovely daughter, offered me a retreat in his quiet manse on the beautiful shores of the Clyde. For all these kindnesses, what could I give in return? There was scarce time for even a grateful thought on  each. People have often said to me that it must have been an exceeding bore. For my part, I could not think of regarding it so. It only oppressed me with an unutterable sadness. In the afternoon I rode out with the lord provost to see the cathedral. The lord provost answers to the lord mayor in England. His title and office in both countries continue only a year, except in case of reelection. As I saw the way to the cathedral blocked up by a throng of people who had come out to see me, I could not help saying, “What went ye out for to see? a reed shaken with the wind?” In fact I was so worn out that I could hardly walk through the building. The next morning I was so ill as to need a physician, unable to see any one that called, or to hear any of the letters. I passed most of the day in bed, but in the evening I had to get up, as I had engaged to drink tea with two thousand people. Our kind friends, Dr.Wardlaw and Mrs. Wardlaw, came after us, and Mr. S. and I went in the carriage with them. Our carriage stopped at last at the place. I have a dim remembrance of a way being made for us through a great crowd all round the house, and of going with Mrs. Wardlaw up into a dressing-room where I met and shook hands with many friendly people. Then we passed into a gallery, where a seat was reserved for our party, directly in front of the audience. Our friend Bailie Paton presided. Mrs. Wardlaw and I sat together, and around us many friends, chiefly ministers of the different churches, the ladies and gentlemen of the Glasgow Anti-Slavery Society and others. I told you it was a tea-party; but  the arrangements were altogether different from any I had ever seen. There were narrow tables stretched up and down the whole extent of the great hall, and every person had an appointed seat. These tables were set out with cups and saucers, cakes, biscuit, etc., and when the proper time came, attendants passed along serving tea. The arrangements were so accurate and methodical that the whole multitude actually took tea together, without the least apparent inconvenience or disturbance. There was a gentle, subdued murmur of conversation all over the house, the sociable clinking of teacups and teaspoons, while the entertainment was going on. It seemed to me such an odd idea, I could not help wondering what sort of a teapot that must be in which all this tea for two thousand people was made. Truly, as Hadji Baba says, I think they must have had the “father of all the tea-kettles” to boil it in. I could not help wondering if old mother Scotland had put two thousand teaspoonfuls of tea for the company, and one for the teapot, as is our good Yankee custom. We had quite a sociable time up in our gallery. Our tea-table stretched quite across, and we drank tea in sight of all the people. By we, I mean a great number of ministers and their wives, and ladies of the Anti-Slavery Society, besides our party, and the friends whom I have mentioned before. All seemed to be enjoying themselves. After tea they sang a few verses of the seventysecond psalm in the old Scotch version.