Chapter 15: the third trip to Europe, 1859.
- Third visit to Europe. -- Lady Byron on the minister's Wooing. -- some foreign people and things as they appeared to Professor Stowe. -- a winter in Italy. -- things unseen and unrevealed. -- Speculations concerning spiritualism. -- John Ruskin. -- Mrs. Browning. -- the return to America. -- letters to Dr. Holmes.
Mrs. Stowe's third and last trip to Europe was undertaken in the summer of 1859. In writing to Lady Byron in May of that year, she says:
I am at present writing something that interests me greatly, and may interest you, as an attempt to portray the heart and life of New England, its religion, theology, and manners. Sampson Low & Son are issuing it in numbers, and I should be glad to know how they strike you. It is to publish this work complete that I intend to visit England this summer.The story thus referred to was The minister's Wooing, and Lady Byron's answer to the above, which is appended, leaves no room for doubt as to her appreciation of it. She writes:--
 The entire family, with the exception of the youngest son, was abroad at this time. The two eldest daughters were in Paris, having previously sailed for Havre in March, in company with their cousin, Miss Beecher. On their arrival in Paris, they went directly to the house of their old friend, Madame Borione, and soon afterwards entered a Protestant school. The rest of the family, including Mrs. Stowe, her husband and youngest daughter, sailed for Liverpool early in August. At about the same time, Fred Stowe, in company with his friend Samuel Scoville, took passage for the same port in a sailing vessel. A comprehensive outline of the earlier portion of this foreign tour is given in the following letter written by Professor Stowe to the sole member of the family remaining in America:
Mrs. Stowe accompanied her husband and daughter to England, where, after traveling and visiting for two  weeks, she bade them good-by and returned to her daughters in Switzerland. From Lausanne she writes under date of October 9th:
From Lausanne the merry party traveled toward Florence by easy stages, stopping at Lake Como, Milan, Verona, Venice, Genoa, and Leghorn. At Florence, where they arrived early in November, they met Fred Stowe and his friend, Samuel Scoville, and here they  were also joined by their Brooklyn friends, the Howards. Thus it was a large and thoroughly congenial party that settled down in the old Italian city to spend the winter. From here Mrs. Stowe wrote weekly letters to her husband in Andover, and among them are the following, that not only throw light upon their mode of life, but illustrate a marked tendency of her mind:--
About the end of February the pleasant Florentine circle broke up, and Mrs. Stowe and her party journeyed to Rome, where they remained until the middle of April. We next find them in Naples, starting on a six days trip to Castellamare, Sorrento, Salerno, Psestum, and Amalfi; then up Vesuvius, and to the Blue Grotto of Capri, and afterwards back to Rome by diligence. Leaving Rome on May 9th, they traveled leisurely towards Paris, which they reached on the 27th. From there Mrs. Stowe wrote to her husband on May 28th :-- 
This extended and pleasant tour was ended with an equally pleasant homeward voyage, for on the Europa were found Nathaniel Hawthorne and James T. Fields, who proved most delightful traveling companions. While Mrs. Stowe fully enjoyed her foreign experiences, she was so thoroughly American in every fibre of her being that she was always thankful to return to her own land and people. She could not, therefore, in any degree reciprocate the views of Mr. Ruskin on this subject, as expressed in the following letter, received soon after her return to Andover:--
In Rome Mrs. Stowe had formed a warm friendship with the Brownings, with whom she afterwards maintained a correspondence. The following letter from Mrs. Browning was written a year after their first meeting. 
Soon after her return to America Mrs. Stowe began a correspondence with Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, which opened the way for the warm friendship that has stood the test of years. Of this correspondence the two following letters, written about this time, are worthy of attention.