Chapter 13: old scenes revisited, 1856.
- En route to Rome. -- trials of travel. -- a midnight arrival and an inhospitable reception. -- glories of 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 paddlewheel, 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.
March 1.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 Caesars, 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 Caesars, where the very dust is a melange of exquisite marbles, I saw for the first time an acanthus growing, and picked my first leaf. Our little menage 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 Niiion d'enclos,--the young fall in love with her. You will hear next from us at Naples.
Affectionately yours, 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. 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. 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. Front 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 brotherinlaw, 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 of 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, Harriet Martineau.
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 peculiarpatois, 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 personce 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.
Ever yours, 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.