- Summer in England, Wales, and Ireland. -- three weeks in London. Two weeks of travel. -- meeting of the British Association in Dublin.
When Mr. Ticknor entered on his second period of European life, he resumed his former habit of keeping a journal, persevered in it with untiring fidelity, and filled its pages with accounts of all that was likely to be of continued interest to himself and his friends. In selecting passages from this journal and from his letters of the same period, the difficulty has been to refrain from making too copious extracts. He always, to the end of his life, regarded the years he passed in Europe as being in some degree sacrificed; and though the sacrifice was made each time for a worthy purpose and met a rich reward, yet the reward never fully outweighed to him the warm satisfaction of life in his native country, in the home that was the centre of his wishes and affections. The proportionate value which he thus gave, in his own mind, to the different points of his experience, should not be wholly disregarded here; but the temptation is irresistible to fill many pages with the European journal, though only a very small part of the whole will appear.1 A prosperous voyage of twenty-five days from New York to Liverpool—not a long passage for those days of sailingves-sels—had an exciting conclusion, which Mr. Ticknor thus describes:—
At the moment when, with a gentle breeze, we felt as if we should reach our port in a few hours, when, in fact, I was sitting quietly in the cabin, writing a letter to announce our arrival, the wind came out suddenly ahead, and almost at once blew a gale. It was not without much difficulty and tacking all day, that we got round Holyhead and  the Skerries, and lay to. But the wind in the night became more violent, we drifted a good deal, and at last were obliged, about four o'clock in the morning, to get under way again. Still the pilot did not venture to approach the mouth of the river, but stood off and on, until he finally thought the danger of going in less than that of attempting to keep off, as the ship could not be expected to bear the canvas necessary to enable her to run to the northward. With a long tack, therefore, that made a fair wind of it, we drove for the port. But it was an appalling sight to see her cross the bar and rush up the river. It seemed now and then as if all its waters were swept together into mountainous heaps by the violence of the gale, so that we saw the bottom and its yellow sands; for while the wind carried us [under bare poles] twelve knots an hour, the tide carried us six more. The appearance of the river was very extraordinary indeed. Its waters are always yellow, and were now rendered doubly so by the turbidness which the violent wind gave to them; and as this wind, together with the tide, was driving so furiously up the stream, the river itself looked as if it were composed of moving heaps of sand, the very foundations of which we could see. The waves seemed higher than they do in a gale on the ocean, because they could be measured by objects on the shores; but they were not really so. The housetops on the river-bank were many of them studded with people, watching our fearful course up the river, and expecting to see us go ashore somewhere before their eyes. The weather was sometimes, for a moment, quite thick; if it had continued so for a quarter of an hour, the pilot could not have seen his landmarks, and we should have been sent instantly on some of the many shoals around us, where, as we were told afterwards, the fury of the tempest would have made a total wreck of us in a very few moments. It was, therefore, a glad, very glad moment, when, after twenty-six hours buffeting with the spirit of this storm, we placed our feet once more on the firm-set earth, just at twelve o'clock, midday, of Thursday the 25th of June.2 But for several days afterwards we continued to receive melancholy accounts of the disasters of others. Four fine vessels were lost, besides small craft; and among them a brig which we saw repeatedly during the day, and a very large ship, larger than our own,—which took the gale a good deal further to windward than we did, so that she had  much the advantage of us,—with which we consorted and tacked all day, and which got round the Skerries immediately after us, but was a total wreck, with the loss of all on board. She was a fine British merchantman from the Baltic. Our ship, indeed, behaved nobly, and carried us through our danger as if she were conscious and proud of her success. It was a pleasure to see and to feel her power. The scene, too, was very grand and solemn, especially at midnight, when there was still a little twilight; and at two and three o'clock in the morning, when the sea was running very high, either quite black or entirely white. But, notwithstanding this, and all Milton's poetry about ‘Mona's wizard height’ and the channel here, I think I shall not care to see it again, in fair weather or foul.Once safely landed on English soil, the fresh and vivid interest of travel began, which Mr. Ticknor could now enjoy, with less regretful longings for absent friends than in his youthful journeys, since he had his wife and his two little girls with him. In describing the departure from New York, whither relatives had accompanied them, and where friends gathered round them, he says, ‘It was not like the parting, when I left Boston, twenty years before, for England. I went at that time with friends, indeed, but with none of my family. Now, I carry all with me, . . . . and as I travel surrounded by my home, it seems not unreasonable to hope for a sort of enjoyment of which I then had no knowledge; and to feel sure that I shall escape that sensation of solitude and weariness which made my absence at that time all but intolerable to me.’ The welcome he everywhere received was very gratifying, and he entered at once on a delightful series of social excitements and pleasures.
The travellers reached London on the 4th of July, and the next morning, among other visits, Mr. Ticknor called on Mr. Samuel Rogers,—whom he calls ‘the Doyen of English literature,’— and promised to return in the evening and dine with him.
On the 25th of July, after these three weeks of excitement and fatigue, Mr. Ticknor set out with his family for a tour through England and Wales, which, with the modes of travelling then in use, consumed much more time than would now be employed, but was, perhaps, all the more charming where every step was full of interest. Mr. Ticknor had purchased a large travelling-carriage, more like the covered ‘drag’ of the present day than like any other vehicle now seen, and, foreseeing a long use for it, had caused it to be fitted with many comforts and conveniences which English ingenuity provided for such demands. In this, always with four post-horses, he travelled for the next two years and a half, till it had become like a family mansion, to be at last given up with regret. On the 26th of July Mr. Ticknor thus describes a visit to Miss Mitford, in the neighborhood of Reading:—
From Reading the route led through Gloucester to the Wye, through Wales to Holyhead, and so across to Dublin, where the party arrived on the 9th of August, in time for the meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science.
August 10.—There is a great bustle in Dublin to-day with the opening of the fifth meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, to attend which, I am told, a thousand persons are already present. Everything, however, seems to be well prepared, and made especially comfortable and agreeable to those strangers who come from a distance. The place where all arrangements are made is the large, fine examination-hall in Trinity College, where tickets are obtained, and a common lounge and exchange is held in the morning from nine to eleven. At eleven the sections are opened. . . . . To-day, for instance, Sir John Ross expounded a theory of the Aurora Borealis, in the physical section, and Sir John Franklin with others entered into the discussion about it. Professor Griffiths explained the geology of Ireland in the geological section, and Professor Sedgwick of Cambridge, Mr. Murchison, and other distinguished men in the same department continued the discussion, and so on .. . . . As a stranger from a great distance, I had free tickets for the whole week presented to me. In the evening, at eight o'clock, the whole body, with the ladies of the stranger membersthere is not room for more-meet in the rotunda, a superb room, every other evening, hold a conversazione and discussions, and on the other evening have papers read and reports from the heads of the sections as to what their respective sections have done. . . . . This evening Sir Thomas Brisbane, the President of the Association last year,—a soldier who has circumnavigated the world four  times, and is distinguished both in science and as an officer,—took the chair, and in a frank, neat speech resigned it to his successor, the Provost of Trinity College,. . . . who gave a discussion about the reconciliation of geology and the Scriptures, which was delivered in so low a voice that almost nobody heard it. Of course we soon—after in vain endeavoring to listen—began to talk, for which I was extremely well situated, having Mr. Tom Moore for my next neighbor. I found him a little fellow, as we all know him to be, very amiable, I should think, and quite pleasant. I enjoyed it very much, for besides him, Whewell; Sir John Franklin; the Surgeon General, Mr. Crampton; Weld, the traveller in America, and now Secretary of the Dublin Society; Dr. Graves, a distinguished physician [and a professor in the University of Dublin], were close to me. The Lord Lieutenant [Lord Mulgrave] sat directly in front of us, dressed in a full military uniform ornamented with stars that blazed with diamonds over his whole breast. He is only thirty-eight years old, looks younger, is graceful and easy in his manners, and received the abundant applause occasionally bestowed on him by the audience, in a style that quite became his place, modestly, but with dignity. I was a little surprised to find that I had known him as the author of ‘ Matilda’ and ‘Yes and No,’ etc., under his previous title of Viscount Normanby. . . . . When the Provost had finished his address, Professor Hamilton, one of the secretaries of the Association for the year, rose and read a discourse on the objects of the meeting, the purposes of the institution, and the results of the last year's labors. At the age of twenty-seven he is now the great man here. When only nineteen he was made a Fellow of Trinity and Mathematical Professor, since which he has risen to be one of the first mathematicians in Europe. Besides this, he is reported to be a fine Greek scholar, to have an extremely metaphysical mind, and to write good poetry.21 All I know is, that in a long conversation with him this morning, I found him pleasant and warm-hearted; and that this evening he gave us a beautiful and eloquent address of an hour long, exactly hitting the tone of the occasion, and the wants and feelings of a large popular audience. I was delighted with it, and it produced a fine effect. August 12.—. . . . At five I went to the Ordinary, provided for  such members as choose to take it at five shillings a head, but to which, as a stranger, I have free tickets. The Provost of Trinity College presided, and as the most distinguished men make it a point to be there, it is always pleasant. Our party was particularly so,— Sir Alexander Creighton, Professor Graves, Beaumont, and Tocqueville,22 etc. It was all over, however, by half past 7, for at eight comes the general meeting at the Rotunda. . . . August 12—This morning I breakfasted with a small party in the Common <*> of Trinity College, the Provost presiding. Whewell, Sir <*> Franklin, and Wilkie, the painter, were in my immediately neighborhood, and I conversed with all of them a good deal. W<*> looks very much like a fresh, undisciplined Yankee, but <*> freely and well. Wilkie is delightful, so simple, so pleasant, and, when he spoke of poor Stewart Newton, so kind and truehearted. Occasionally he showed shrewdness and knowledge of the world, and it is plain he looks quite through the ways of men. But there is no harm in this, for he is certainly kind. Franklin is not tall, but he has an ample, solid, iron frame, and his head is singularly set back upon his neck, so that he seems always to be looking up; besides which he has a cast in one of his eyes, very slight, and not always perceptible. His manners are not very elegant, nor his style of conversation or of public discussion very polished; but he is strong, quick, graphic, and safe. . . . . I went to but one section this morning; the geological, where I heard Agassiz23—from, I believe, Lausanne, in Switzerland, and reputed one of the first naturalists in the world-discuss the question of fossil remains of fishes. He did it in French, plainly, distinctly, and with beauty of phrase. He is still young, and was greatly applauded, as were Sedgwick and Murchison when they followed and eulogized him. I was very much pleased with the whole scene. I dined with Lord Mulgrave, the Lord Lieutenant, in the Government House, in the magnificent Phoenix Park. I had been for some days engaged to dine with Mr. Litton, a leading member of the bar, but an invitation from the Viceroy, like an invitation from the King, is in the nature of a command. . .. . The ceremonies of the dinner were regal. The aides-de-camp, three in number, received us in a rich  saloon, which we entered through a suite of apartments. . . . . A few minutes after seven there were about twenty-five persons in the room. It was an agreeable mixture of rank and fashion with the savants now collected in Dublin. The Provost of Trinity, as President of the Association, Sir Thomas Brisbane, the President of the last year, Lord Cloncurry, Lord Clare, Sir Alexander Creighton, Professor Robinson, Professor Hamilton, old Mr. Dalton of Manchester, Thomas Moore, Babbage, a Norwegian nobleman, a French baron, Whewell, Phillips, Prichard, the three aids, two or three other persons, and myself. When the company was assembled, Lord Mulgrave came in and went round, each person being presented to him as he passed. To most of them he barely bowed. To others he spoke, and his manners throughout were elegant and kind. As I had brought him a letter from Lord Holland, he inquired about him, talked a little about America, and passed on. When this ceremony was over, he mixed with the company. . . . . He came up to where I was standing with Moore, and talked pleasantly some time about Wilkie, and about Stewart Newton, of whom he spoke with interest. Soon, however, dinner was announced. Lord Mulgrave went in alone. . .. . I sat next to Sir John Franklin, and near Moore, and had a very good time, Sir John talking about his travels and adventures. There was no ceremony at table. Lord Mulgrave drank wine with a few of us, and was pleasant in conversation,—‘ affable,’ we should say in America,—but not striking. August 14.—This morning, early, I drove out to the Observatory and breakfasted with Professor Hamilton, taking in my carriage Professor Whewell of Cambridge, and Professor Rigaud of Oxford, who much enlivened a drive five miles out and in. Whewell I found full of spirits and vivacity, various and amusing in conversation, and without the least appearance of the awkwardness I saw, or supposed I saw, in him at first. Professor Rigaud was without much humor, but truly good-tempered and agreeable. We met there Sir John Ross, a very stout, easy, quiet gentleman of about fifty-five, with much of the air of a naval commander. While we were in the Observatory he compared with the time-keeper there the chronometer which had been used by Parry, and which had gone with him through all his terrible sufferings. Hamilton himself was very eager, simple, and direct, but a little nervous; and Whewell made himself merry at a discussion about Kant's philosophy, in which Hamilton showed his metaphysical acumen against a German at table, but showed, too, that he was familiar  with the labyrinth of the German writers. . . . . Certainly, for one only twenty seven or eight years old, he is a very extraordinary person. August 15.—. . . . In the evening, a grand dinner was given by the Provost and Senior Fellows of Trinity College to the Lord Lieutenant and about three hundred of the members of the Association. It was a beau finale to the splendid week Dublin has given to so many distinguished guests. We assembled in the imposing hall of Trinity Library, two hundred and eighty feet long, at six o'clock. . . . . When the company was principally assembled, I observed a little stir near the place where I stood, which nobody could explain, and which, in fact, was not comprehended by more than two or three persons present. In a moment, however, I perceived myself standing near the Lord Lieutenant and his suite, in front of whom a space had been cleared, and by whom was Professor Hamilton, looking much embarrassed. The Lord Lieutenant then called him by name, and he stepped into the vacant space. ‘I am,’ said his Excellency, ‘about to exercise a prerogative of royalty, and it gives me great pleasure to do it, on this splendid public occasion, which has brought together so many distinguished men from all parts of the empire, and from all parts even of the world, where science is held in honor. But, in exercising it, Professor Hamilton, I do not confer a distinction. I but set the royal, and, therefore, the national mark on a distinction already acquired by your genius and labors.’ He went on in this way for three or four minutes, his voice very fine, rich, and full; his manner as graceful and dignified as possible; and his language and allusions appropriate, and combined into very ample flowing sentences. Then, receiving the state sword from one of his attendants, he said, ‘Kneel down, Professor Hamilton’; and laying the blade gracefully and gently, first on one shoulder, and then on the other, he said, ‘Rise up, Sir William Rowan Hamilton.’ The knight rose, and the Lord Lieutenant then went up and, with an appearance of great tact in his manner, shook hands with him. No reply was made. The whole scene was imposing; rendered so, partly, by the ceremony itself, but more by the place in which it passed, by the body of very distinguished men who were assembled there, and especially by the extraordinarily dignified and beautiful manner in which it was performed by the Lord Lieutenant. The effect at the time was great, and the general impression was, that, as the honor was certainly merited by him who received it, so the words by which it was conferred were so  graceful and appropriate that they constituted a distinction by themselves, greater than the distinction of knighthood. I was afterwards told that this was the first instance in which a person had been knighted by a Lord Lieutenant, either for scientific or literary merit. The dinner was in the great hall for public examinations, and was abundant and beautiful, in better order, and more quiet, than any public dinner I ever witnessed. It was even recherche in the food, wines, ices, and fruits, among which last they had the costly luxury of peaches and pine-apples, grown of course entirely under glass, and furnished in great profusion. . . . . A Latin grace and thanks were sung, with great beauty and sweetness, by the College choir, which has the reputation of being the best in the three kingdoms. August 16.—I dined with the Lord Lieutenant, driving again through that magnificent park, two or three miles, to reach the Lodge. It was a small party, consisting only of two ladies, who seemed to be connections of Lord Mulgrave; the usual proportion of aidesde-camp and secretaries; Mr. Harcourt of York; Mr. Stanley of the Derby family; Mr. Vignolles, one of the chaplains; Wilkie, the painter; and myself. . . . . When Lord Mulgrave came in he spoke to every one, not ceremoniously, as he did the other day, but very familiarly. He sat down first, asked us to be seated, and talked very agreeably; was evidently pleased to find that his books had been printed and read in America, and said that he still had a particular liking for his old title of Lord Normanby, under which he wrote them. . . . . After the ladies had left the table he became very pleasant in conversation, telling amusing stories,. . . . and talking about the present condition of Dublin and its progressive improvement with apparently much knowledge of facts and a deep interest. He certainly talked uncommonly well. . . . We came away bringing with us all, I believe, the impression he seems to leave everywhere, that of a highbred nobleman and an intellectually accomplished gentleman. August 17.—We left Dublin this morning for an excursion into the county of Wicklow,. . . . and in about an hour reached the hospitable mansion of Mr. Isaac Weld, the former traveller in America, now the Secretary of the Dublin Society, which his labors have chiefly made what it now is, and one of the most efficient persons in all the arrangements and proceedings of the last busy and exciting week. He is, I suppose, above sixty years old, with a quiet but rather earnest look and manner, and belongs to the old Catholic family of Welds in England, of which the present Cardinal Weld is a leading member.  . . . . Mr. Weld is a man of moderate fortune, much connected with whatever is distinguished for intelligence and science in Ireland, and author of several books and many papers in their Transactions; but his ‘Travels in America’ was a youthful production,. . . . for the opinions of which, touching the United States, he expressed his regret, as mistaken. Soon after we had established ourselves in our very comfortable quarters at Ravenswell, his place near the village of Bray,. . . . we set off for a dejeuner and fete champetre given by Mr.Putland and Mrs. Putland. . . . . A great many of the members of the Association had stayed another day to be present at it, and we saw again there Sir John Ross, Tom Moore, Wilkie, Lady Morgan, Dr. Sands, Sir John Tobin, Dr. Lardner,24 and many more most agreeable people. . . . . At six o'clock we returned to Mr. Weld's and found dinner ready. . . . There were soon collected the Taylors,25 Sir William Hamilton,26 Sir John and Lady Franklin, and several other interesting people, with whom we passed a delightful evening.