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Chapter 3:

Mr. Ticknor was now twenty-three years old, in full vigor of health and activity of mind, having faithfully used his powers and opportunities for the acquisition of knowledge, both of books and men. In person he was slight, of medium height, and well proportioned. He was light and active in his movements, and continued so through life. His complexion was dark and rich; his eyes, large, and so dark that they might almost be called black, were very bright and expressive. His hair, also dark, was thick, and inclined to curl. His memory was exact and retentive, enabling him to enrich conversation with fact, anecdote, and quotation. His vivacity of feeling, quick perceptions, and ready sympathy not only made him socially attractive, but secured him attached friends.

He was cordially welcomed in the society of Boston, and was a favored guest in its best houses. Intercourse with cultivated minds, the affection of a few friends of his own age and similar tastes, and the happy influences of his home were necessities to him; while, with fresh, unworn spirits, he enjoyed, like others, the forms and amusements of general society.

He had now completed, as far as was possible, his preparation for a residence and course of study abroad; and, on reaching home after his journey to Virginia, found, to his surprise, that his passage had been taken for the voyage. During his absence several of his friends had decided to go to Europe, some in [49] search of health and some of instruction; and his father, anticipating his wishes, had secured for him a place in the same vessel. The separation from home cost him a severe struggle, and nothing could have enabled him to keep his resolution but the clear perception that it was the only means by which he could fit himself for future usefulness in the path he had chosen. He sailed in the Liverpool packet, on the 16th of April, 1815. He had the happiness of the companionship of four of his most valued and intimate friends,—Mr.Perkins and Mrs. Samuel G. Perkins, Mr. Edward Everett, and Mr. Haven, of Portsmouth, N. H. Among other passengers were two young sons of Mr. John Quincy Adams, on their way to join their father, then United States Minister at St. Petersburg.

Mr. Ticknor wrote many pages during his voyage to his father and mother, full of affection and cheering thoughts, and giving incidents and details, to amuse their solitary hours. The last page gives his first natural feeling at the startling news that met the passengers as they entered the Mersey.

May 11, 1815, evening.
The pilot who is carrying us into Liverpool, told us of Bonaparte's return to Paris, and re-establishment at the head of the French Empire. We did not believe it; but from another pilot-boat, which we have just spoken, we have received an account which is but too sufficient a confirmation of the story. Even in this age of tremendous revolutions, we have had none so appalling as this. We cannot measure or comprehend it. . . . . . When Napoleon was rejected from France, every man in Christendom, of honest principles and feelings, felt as if a weight of danger had been lifted from his prospects,—as if he had a surer hope of going down to his grave in peace, and leaving an inheritance to his children. But now the whole complexion of the world is changed again. . . . . God only can foresee the consequences, and He too can control them. Terrible as the convulsion may be, it may be necessary for the purification of the corrupt governments of Europe, and for the final repose of the world.

Many years later he dictated his recollections of the state of feeling he observed on his arrival in England.

In May, 1815, I arrived in Liverpool. When I left Boston, Bonaparte was in Elba, and all Europe in a state of profound peace. The [50] pilot came on board as we approached the mouth of the Mersey, and told us that Bonaparte was in Paris, and that everything was preparing for a general war against him. Having been bred in the strictest school of Federalism, I felt as the great majority of the English people felt, in that anxious crisis of their national affairs; but, on reaching Liverpool, I soon found that not a few people looked upon the matter quite differently. Mr. Roscoe, mild and philosophical in his whole character, was opposed to the war, and, at a dinner at Allerton, gave the usual whig argument against it, in a manner that very much surprised me.

On my way up to London I stopped at Hatton, and made a visit to Dr. Parr. He certainly was not very gentle or philosophic in his opposition. ‘Sir,’ said he, in his solemn, dogmatical manner, with his peculiar lisp, which always had something droll about it,—‘thir, I should not think I had done my duty, if I went to bed any night without praying for the success of Napoleon Bonaparte.’

Another fact belonging to this period and state of feeling in England was told me at Keswick, in 1819, by Mr. Southey. He said that in the spring of 1815 he was employed in writing an article for the ‘Quarterly Review’ upon the life and achievements of Lord Wellington. He wrote in haste the remarkable paper which has since been published more than once, and the number of the ‘Review’ containing it was urged through the press, so as to influence public opinion as much as possible, and to encourage the hearts of men throughout the country for the great contest.

At the same time a number of the ‘Edinburgh’ was due. Sir James Mackintosh had written an able and elaborate article, to show that the war ought to have been avoided, and that its consequences to England could only be unfortunate and inglorious. The number was actually printed, stitched, and ready for distribution; but it was thought better to wait a little for fear of accidents, and especially for the purpose of using it instantly after the first reverse should occur, and to give it the force of prophecy.

The battle of Waterloo came like a thunder-clap. The article was suppressed, and one on ‘Gall and his Craniology’ was substituted for it. There it may still be found. I think Mr. Southey said he had seen the repudiated article.

While in Liverpool, Mr. Ticknor made the acquaintance of Mr. Roscoe, then in the enjoyment of wealth as well as fame, [51] and gives a sketch of him in a letter to his friend, Mr. Daveis:—

Of the acquaintances whom I found or formed in Liverpool, I know not that you will be much interested to hear of any but Mr. Roscoe, whom you already know as an author, and probably as the Lorenzo of his native city; for, like the happy subject he has chosen, he is himself a lover of, and a proficient in, the fine arts, and has done more to encourage and patronize learning than all his fellow-citizens put together. But he is now beginning to bend with age, and has retired from active pursuits, both as a man of letters and a banker. Still, however, he loves society, and his fine house (Allerton Hall, eight miles from Liverpool) is open to all strangers,—whose company he even solicits. There he lives in a style of splendor suited to his ample fortune; and, what is singular, he lives on the very estate where his father was gardener and his mother housekeeper. There I passed one day with him, and called on him afterwards and spent a couple of hours, and found him exceedingly simple in his manners, and uncommonly pleasant in his conversation.

For a man of sixty-five, his vivacity and enthusiasm were very remarkable, and were very remarkably expressed, as he showed me a large collection of Burns's original Mss., beginning with the earliest effusions, as contained in the copy-books mentioned, I believe, in his brother's letter to Dr. Currie, and ending with the last letter he ever wrote,—the letter to his wife,—which, if I recollect right, concludes Dr. Currie's collection. These papers, Mr. Roscoe seems to preserve with a sort of holy reverence, and he read me from among them several characteristic love-letters, and some Jacobite pieces of poetry, which have never been, and never will be published, with a degree of feeling which would have moved me in one of my own age, and was doubly interesting in an old man.

Mr. Ticknor left Liverpool on the 17th of May, and arrived in London on the 25th of the same month, travelling in the leisurely style of those days; passing through Chester, St. Asaph's, Llangollen, Shrewsbury, Birmingham, and Warwick; everywhere charmed with the aspect of a rich and cultivated country glowing with the bloom and verdure of an English spring. In addition to a copious correspondence with relatives and friends at home, it was his custom to keep full journals of his life and experiences during his whole residence in Europe, from which we shall often draw. [52]


May 20, 1815.—A few miles after we left the valley [Llangollen], to which we cast back many a longing, lingering look, we came to Chirk Castle, the seat of the Middletons; which seems, in all its more ancient division, one extensive monument of fidelity to the Stuarts. Even the old housekeeper, who showed us the apartments, was a thorough Jacobite. The banqueting-room was, filled with pictures which proved their sufferings from Cromwell, and their loyalty to their sovereign; and the chamber of state was preserved with a sort of reverence in the same condition, with the same tapestry, furniture, and bedclothes that it had when Charles I. slept there, on his way to his ruin at Chester. Among the fine pictures in the collection, I was struck with that of a beautiful lady, with an uncommonly meek and subdued expression of countenance, and dressed in the humble weeds of a nun. I inquired of the old housekeeper, who claimed to know the private history of every piece of furniture in the establishment, who the nun was. ‘She was the sister of Owen Tudor,’ the old lady replied, ‘but no nun at all, sir, for her seventh husband was a Middleton, and that's the reason the picture is here. They tell an odd story,’ the old lady went on, ‘that when she was riding to the burying of her fourth, the gentleman she was behind—for it was before carriages were known in England—thought it was best to be in season, and so put the question to her as they came home from the grave. She told him, she was very sorry indeed he was too late, but if she had that melancholy office to perform again, she would certainly remember him.’

Hatton, May 23, 1815.—Dr. Parr lives at Hatton, but four miles from Warwick, and I was resolved not to pass so near to one who is the best Latin scholar, and almost the best Greek one in England, without seeing him, at least for a moment. Mr. Roscoe had volunteered me a letter, but I left Liverpool half a day before I intended, and the consequence was, that I did not receive it till I reached London. So I went to the doctor's with a traveller's effrontery, and sent in a note, asking leave to visit him, as a stranger. He came out to the carriage immediately,—received me with a solemnity of politeness which would have been grotesque, if it had not obviously been well meant,—carried me in, asked me to stay to dinner,—and come again when I had more time; and, in fact, treated me with as much kindness as if I had carried a volume of introductions. He is, I should think, about seventy; and though a good deal smaller, looks [53] somewhat like his old friend Dr. Johnson,—wears just such a coat and waistcoat, and the same kind of dirty bob-wig,—and rolls himself about in his chair, as Boswell tells us Johnson did. His conversation was fluent and various,—full of declamation and sounding phrases like his writings,—and as dictatorial as an emperor's. He chose those subjects which he thought would be most interesting to me; and, though he often mistook in this, he never failed to be amusing.

On American politics, he was bold and decisive. He thought we had ample cause for war, and seemed to have a very favorable opinion of our principal men, such as Jefferson and Madison, and our late measures, such as Monroe's conscription plan, and the subject of taking Canada,—though it was evident enough that he knew little about any of them. ‘Thirty years ago,’ said he in a solemn tone, which would have been worthy of Johnson,—‘thirty years ago, sir, I turned on my heel when I heard you called rebels, and I was always glad that you beat us.’ He made some inquiries on the subject of our learning and universities, of which he was profoundly ignorant, and spoke of the state of religion in our section of the country—in particular of Dr. Freeman's alterations of the Liturgy, which he had seen—with a liberal respect, much beyond what I should have expected from a Churchman. When I came away, he followed me to the door, with many expressions of kindness, and many invitations to come and spend some time with him, on my return to England, and finally took leave of me with a bow, whose stately and awkward courtesy will always be present in my memory whenever I think of him.

His first evening in London was spent at the theatre, witnessing the performance of Miss O'Neil in ‘The Gamester,’ of whom he thus writes to his father: ‘I can truly say I never knew what acting was until I saw her.1 The play was “The Gamester.” I cried like a school-boy, to the great amusement of the John Bulls who were around me in the pit. All night my dreams did homage to the astonishing powers of this actress, and my first waking imaginations this morning still dwelt on the [54] hysterical laugh when she was carried off the stage. I absolutely dread to see her again.’

Mr. Ticknor remained in London a little more than a month, which was to him a period of animated interest and high enjoyment. It was the height of the London season, when Parliament was in session, and the great metropolis gathered within its folds a large proportion of the science, literature, and art of the whole country. Uncommon social opportunities were held out to him, and the kindness with which he was received was an unbiassed tribute to his social gifts; for London society, though hospitable, is fastidious, and will not tolerate any one who cannot contribute his fair share to the common stock of entertainment. In some respects his good fortune was rare and exceptional, for it so happened that he saw frequently, and on easy and familiar terms, Lord Byron, the most brilliant man of letters in England, and Sir Humphry Davy, the most brilliant man of science. Every hour of his time was agreeably filled with social engagements or visits to the many points of interest with which his reading had made him familiar, and the high pulse of his enjoyment is felt in his letters and journals.

To Elisha Ticknor.

London, May 26, 1815.
At last, my dear father, I address you from this great city. . . . . I feel no uncommon elation at finding myself in the world's metropolis. I only feel that I am in the midst of a million of people, whom I know not, and that I am driven forward by a crowd in whose objects and occupations and thoughts I have no share or interest. . . . . I fear, my dear father, that you may be anxious about my going to the Continent, in consequence of the change of affairs in France. I assure you there is not the least occasion for anxiety. . . . . It is not at all dangerous. Mr. Adams, who arrived in town the same day that we did, assures us there is, and will be, no hazard or embarrassment in going now, or after hostilities have commenced, even directly to France, much less to Holland, and to a university which knows no changes of war or peace. Besides, Americans are now treated with the most distinguished kindness and courtesy wherever they are known to be such. This I know from the [55] testimony of very many of our countrymen, who have just returned from France and Germany. But not only Americans, but Englishmen go every day to the Continent, without molestation. I pray you, therefore, be perfectly easy, for I shall run no risk .... We left Liverpool on the 17th, and arrived here on the 25th, and are just settled in our respective lodgings, and ready to present our letters of introduction.


May 30.—To-day I dined at Mr. William Vaughan's, the brother of Mr. Benjamin Vaughan, of Hallowell, and of Mr. John Vaughan, of Philadelphia, and as actively kind and benevolent as either of them. Dr. Rees, the editor of the Cyclopaedia, was there, and, though now past seventy, and oppressed with the hydrothorax, he still retains so much of the vigor and vivacity of youth, that I think he may yet live to complete the great work he has undertaken. He is a specimen, in excellent preservation, of the men of letters of the last century, and is full of stories in relation to them, which are very amusing. He was present, and gave us a lively account of Dilly's famous dinner, when Wilkes won his way, as Boswell says, by his wit and good-humor, but, as Dr. Rees says, by the grossest flattery, to Dr. Johnson's heart. Dr. Rees said, that long before Johnson's death it was understood that Boswell was to be his biographer, and that he always courted Boswell more than anybody else, that he might be sure of the point of view in which he was to be exhibited to posterity. Boswell, in his turn, ruined his fortune and alienated the affections of his wife, by living so much of his time—at considerable expense—in London, that he might be near his subject and in good society.

June 6.—We dined at Mr. Vaughan's with several men of letters, but I saw little of them, excepting Mr. Sharp, formerly a Member of Parliament, and who, from his talents in society, has been called ‘Conversation Sharp.’ He has been made an associate of most of the literary clubs in London, from the days of Burke down to the present time. He told me a great many amusing anecdotes of them, and particularly of Burke, Porson, and Grattan, with whom he had been intimate; and occupied the dinner-time as pleasantly as the same number of hours have passed with me in England.

He gave me a new reading in Macbeth, from Henderson, to whom Mrs. Siddons once read her part for correction, when Mr. Sharp was present. The common pointing and emphasis is:— [56]

Macbeth. If we should fail?
     Lady Macbeth. We fail.
But screw your courage to the sticking place,
     And we'll not fail.

‘No,’ said Henderson, on hearing her read it thus,

that is inconsistent with Lady Macbeth's character. She never permits herself to doubt their success, and least of all when arguing with her husband. Read it thus, Mrs. Siddons:—

Macbeth. If we should fail?
Lady Macbeth (with contempt). We fail?
But screw your courage to the sticking place
And we'll not fail.

June 7.—This morning I breakfasted with Mr. Sharp, and had a continuation of yesterday,—more pleasant accounts of the great men of the present day, and more amusing anecdotes of the generation that has passed away.

After breakfast he carried me through the Stock Exchange into the London Exchange, the square area of a large stone pile built in the time of Charles II.; from there to Lloyd's Coffee-House, and finally to Guildhall.Zzz

To Mr.Ticknor And Mrs. Ticknor.

London, June 8, 1815.
. . . . I cannot tell you how happy your letters have made me. It is all well, and I am sure home must still be to you what it always has been to me, the place of all content and happiness. You, my dear father, are now, I suppose, at Hanover, and I know all that you are enjoying there. . . . . Tell the children how dear they will be to me wherever I may go, and do not suffer them to forget me, for there are few things I should dread so much as to return, after my long and wearisome absence, and find the little hearts that parted from me in so much affection receiving me as a stranger. You, dear mother, are at any rate at home, and I fear may have some wearisome hours in your solitude. Would that I could be with you, to relieve them of some of their tediousness.

. . . . England and London have much more than satisfied my expectations, as far as I have seen them, which is only on the surface. The country is much more beautiful than I thought any country could be, and the people to whom I have presented letters are much less cold, and more kind and hospitable, than I expected them to be. [57]

June 13.—I breakfasted this morning with Sir Humphry Davy, of whom we have heard so much in America. He is now about thirty-three, but with all the freshness and bloom of five-and-twenty, and one of the handsomest men I have seen in England. He has a great deal of vivacity,—talks rapidly, though with great precision, —and is so much interested in conversation, that his excitement amounts to nervous impatience, and keeps him in constant motion. He has just returned from Italy, and delights to talk of it,—thinks it, next to England, the finest country in the world, and the society of Rome surpassed only by that of London, and says he should not die contented without going there again.

It seemed singular that his taste in this should be so acute, when his professional eminence is in a province so different and remote; but I was much more surprised when I found that the first chemist of his time was a professed angler; and that he thinks, if he were obliged to renounce fishing or philosophy, that he should find the struggle of his choice pretty severe.

Lady Davy was unwell, and when I was there before, she was out, so I have not yet seen the lady of whom Mad. de Stael said, that she has all Corinne's talents without her faults or extravagances.

After breakfast Sir Humphry took me to the Royal Institution, where he used to lecture before he married a woman of fortune and fashion, and where he still goes every day to perform chemical experiments for purposes of research. He showed me the library and model-room, his own laboratory and famous galvanic troughs, and at two o'clock took me to a lecture there, by Sir James Smith, on botany, —very good and very dull.

June 15.—As her husband had invited me to do, I called this morning on Lady Davy. I found her in her parlor, working on a dress, the contents of her basket strewed about the table, and looking more like home than anything since I left it. She is small, with black eyes and hair, a very pleasant face, an uncommonly sweet smile, and, when she speaks, has much spirit and expression in her countenance. Her conversation is agreeable, particularly in the choice and variety of her phraseology, and has more the air of eloquence than I have ever heard before from a lady. But, then, it has something of the appearance of formality and display, which injures conversation. Her manner is gracious and elegant; and, though I should not think of comparing her to Corinne, yet I think she has uncommon powers. . . . [58]

June 16.—We dined at Mr. Vaughan's, with Dr. Schwabe, a learned German clergyman, who gave us considerable information on the state of letters in Germany; Mr. Maltby, the successor of Porson in the London Institution, (Gifford says he is the best Greek scholar left, since Porson's death), and Elmsley, the writer of the Greek articles in the ‘Quarterly Review.’2 He expressed to me his surprise that I spoke so good English, and spoke it, too, without an accent, so that he should not have known me from an Englishman. This is the first instance I have yet met of this kind of ignorance. He is himself a cockney.

June 19.—Among other persons, I brought letters to Gifford, the satirist, but never saw him until yesterday. Never was I so mistaken in my anticipations. Instead of a tall and handsome man, as I had supposed him from his picture,—a man of severe and bitter remarks in conversation, such as I had good reason to believe him from his books, I found him a short, deformed, and ugly little man, with a large head sunk between his shoulders, and one of his eyes turned outward, but, withal, one of the best-natured, most open and well-bred gentlemen I have met. He is editor of the ‘Quarterly Review,’ and was not a little surprised and pleased to hear that it was reprinted with us, which I told him, with an indirect allusion to the review of Inchiquin. He very readily took up the subject, and defended that article, on the ground that it was part of the system of warfare which was going on at that time,—and I told him that it had been answered on the same ground, and in the same temper. As he seemed curious to know something about the answer, I told him I would send it to him; and, as he is supposed to be the author of the article in question, I could hardly have sent it to a better market. He carried me to a handsome room over Murray's bookstore, which he has fitted up as a sort of literary lounge, where authors resort to read newspapers and talk literary gossip. I found there Elmsley, Hallam,—Lord Byron's ‘Classic Hallam, much renowned for Greek,’ now as famous for being one of his lordship's friends,—Boswell, a son of Johnson's biographer, etc., so that I finished a long forenoon very pleasantly.

June 20.—I called on Lord Byron to-day, with an introduction from Mr. Gifford. Here, again, my anticipations were mistaken. Instead of being deformed, as I had heard, he is remarkably well built, with the exception of his feet. Instead of having a thin and rather [59] sharp and anxious face, as he has in his pictures, it is round, open, and smiling; his eyes are light, and not black; his air easy and careless, not forward and striking; and I found his manners affable and gentle, the tones of his voice low and conciliating, his conversation gay, pleasant, and interesting in an uncommon degree. I stayed with him about an hour and a half, during which the conversation wandered over many subjects. He talked, of course, a great deal about America; wanted to know what was the state of our literature, how many universities we had, whether we had any poets whom we much valued, and whether we looked upon Barlow as our Homer. He certainly feels a considerable interest in America, and says he intends to visit the United States; but I doubt whether it will not be indefinitely postponed, like his proposed visit to Persia. I answered to all this as if I had spoken to a countryman, and then turned the conversation to his own poems, and particularly to his ‘English Bards,’ which he has so effectually suppressed that a copy is not easily to be found. He said he wrote it when he was very young and very angry; which, he added, were ‘the only circumstances under which a man would write such a satire.’ When he returned to England, he said, Lord Holland, who treated him with very great kindness, and Rogers, who was his friend, asked him to print no more of it, and therefore he had suppressed it. Since then, he said, he had become acquainted with the persons he had satirized, and whom he then knew only by their books,—was now the friend of Moore, the correspondent of Jeffrey, and intimate with the Wordsworth school, and had a hearty liking for them all,—especially as they did not refuse to know one who had so much abused them. Of all the persons mentioned in this poem, there was not one, he said, with whom he now had any quarrel, except Lord Carlisle; and, as this was a family difference, he supposed it would never be settled. On every account, therefore, he was glad it was out of print; and yet he did not express the least regret when I told him that it was circulated in America almost as extensively as his other poems. As to the poems published during his minority, he said he suppressed them because they were not worth reading, and wondered that our booksellers could find a profit in reprinting them. All this he said without affectation; in fact, just as I now repeat it. He gave great praise to Scott; said he was undoubtedly the first man of his time, and as extraordinary in everything as in poetry,—a lawyer, a fine scholar, endowed with an extraordinary memory, and blessed with the kindest feelings. [60]

Of Gifford, he said it was impossible that a man should have a better disposition; that he was so good-natured that if he ever says a bitter thing in conversation or in a review he does it unconsciously!

Just at this time Sir James Bland Burgess, who had something to do in negotiating Jay's Treaty, came suddenly into the room, and said abruptly, ‘My lord, my lord, a great battle has been fought in the Low Countries, and Bonaparte is entirely defeated.’ ‘But is it true?’ said Lord Byron,—‘is it true?’ ‘Yes, my lord, it is certainly true; an aide-de-camp arrived in town last night; he has been in Downing Street this morning, and I have just seen him as he was going to Lady Wellington's. He says he thinks Bonaparte is in full retreat towards Paris.’ After an instant's pause, Lord Byron replied, ‘I am d—d sorry for it’; and then, after another slight pause, he added, ‘I did n't know but I might live to see Lord Castlereagh's head on a pole. But I suppose I sha'n't, now.’ And this was the first impression produced on his impetuous nature by the news of the battle of Waterloo. . . . .

As I was going away, he carried me up stairs, and showed me his library, and collection of Romaic books, which is very rich and very curious; offered me letters for Greece; and, after making an appointment for another visit, took leave of me so cordially that I felt almost at home with him.

While I was there, Lady Byron came in. She is pretty, not beautiful,—for the prevalent expression of her countenance is that of ingenuousness. ‘Report speaks goldenly of her.’ She is a baroness in her own right, has a large fortune, is rich in intellectual endowments, is a mathematician, possesses common accomplishments in an uncommon degree, and adds to all this a sweet temper. She was dressed to go and drive, and, after stopping a few moments, went to her carriage. Lord Byron's manner to her was affectionate; he followed her to the door, and shook hands with her, as if he were not to see her for a month.

June 21.—I passed an hour this morning very pleasantly indeed with Sir Humphry Davy, from whom I have received great courtesy and kindness. He told me that when he was at Coppet, Mad. de Stael showed him part of a work on England similar in plan to her De l'allemagne, but which will be only about two thirds as long. Murray told me she had offered it to him, and had the conscience to ask four thousand guineas for it. When I came away, Sir Humphry gave me several letters for the Continent, and among them one for Canova, [61] one for De la Rive at Geneva, and one for Mad. de Stael, which I was very glad to receive from him,—for there is nobody in England whom Mad. de Stael more valued,—though I have already two other introductions to her. I parted from Sir Humphry with real regret. He goes out of town to-morrow.

We dined to-day with Mr. Manning,—brother of Mrs. Benjamin Vaughan,—a very intelligent gentleman. He told us a story of Bonaparte, which, from the source from which he had it, is likely to be true. Lord Ebrington, son of Lord Fortescue, was in Elba, and Bonaparte, finding he was the nephew of Lord Grenville, asked him to dinner. Nobody was present but Drouot, who soon retired, and left the host and the English guest tete-à--tete. The nobleman is a modest, indeed bashful man, and was so disconcerted by the awkwardness of the situation, that conversation began to fail,—when Bonaparte said to him, ‘My lord, at this rate we shall soon be dumb; and so I propose to you that you shall answer all the questions I put to you, and then I will answer all that you put to me.’ The convention was accepted, and the first inquiry made by Bonaparte was, whether the people of England hated him as much as they were reported to hate him. To this, and to a series of similar questions, the Englishman answered very honestly, as he says, and in return asked several no less personal; for his courage, like that of most bashful men, on being roused, went to the opposite extreme. Among other things, he inquired about the murder at Jaffa, and Bonaparte admitted it, with all its aggravations, but defended himself with ‘the tyrant's plea,—necessity.’ Soon after this they separated.

There was a Captain Fuller present, who was in one of the frigates stationed off Elba to keep in Bonaparte and to keep out the Algerines. He told us several anecdotes of the rude treatment of Bonaparte by the English sailors, which were very amusing. Among them he said that Captain Towers, or ‘Jack Towers,’ as he called him, gave a ball, at which many of the inhabitants of Elba were present, and Bonaparte was invited.

When he came alongside, and was announced, the dancing stopped, out of compliment to him, as Emperor; but ‘Jack Towers’ cried out, ‘No, no, my boys, none of that. You're aboard the King's ship, and Bony's no more here than any other man. So, strike up again.’ The band was English, and obeyed.

When they first received an intimation of the unfriendly dispositions of the Algerine government, and before their determinations [62] were known, two of the frigates went down to Algiers, to ascertain by personal inquiry. Captain Fuller and the other captain had an audience of the Dey, but the only answer they could get was this: ‘Your masters were fools, when they had the Frenchman in their hands, that they did not cut off his head. If I catch him, I shall act more wisely.’

At three o'clock, I went to the literary exchange at Murray's bookstore. Gifford was there, as usual, and Sir James Burgess, who, I find, is the man of whom Cumberland so often speaks, and in conjunction with whom he wrote the Exodiad; and before long Lord Byron came in, and stayed out the whole party. I was glad to meet him there; for there I saw him among his fellows and friends,—men with whom he felt intimate, and who felt themselves equal to him. The conversation turned upon the great victory at Waterloo, for which Lord Byron received the satirical congratulations of his ministerial friends with a good-nature which surprised me. He did not, however, disguise his feelings or opinions at all, and maintained stoutly, to the last, that Bonaparte's case was not yet desperate.

He spoke to me of a copy of the American edition of his poems, which I had sent him, and expressed his satisfaction at seeing it in a small form, because in that way, he said, nobody would be prevented from purchasing it. It was in boards, and he said he would not have it bound, for he should prefer to keep it in the same state in which it came from America.

He has very often expressed to me his satisfaction at finding that his works were printed and read in America, with a simplicity which does not savor of vanity in the least.

June 22.—I dined with Murray, and had a genuine booksellers' dinner, such as Lintot used to give to Pope and Gay and Swift; and Dilly, to Johnson and Goldsmith. Those present were two Mr. Duncans, Fellows of New College, Oxford, Disraeli, author of the ‘Quarrels and Calamities of Authors,’ Gifford, and Campbell. The conversation of such a party could not long be confined to politics, even on the day when they received full news of the Duke of Wellington's successes; and, after they had drunk his health and Blucher's, they turned to literary topics as by instinct, and from seven o'clock until twelve the conversation never failed or faltered.

Disraeli, who, I think, is no great favorite, though a very good-natured fellow, was rather the butt of the party. The two Duncans were acute and shrewd in correcting some mistakes in his books. Gifford sometimes defended him, but often joined in the laugh; and [63] Campbell, whose spirits have lately been much improved by a legacy of £ 5,000, was the life and wit of the party. He is a short, small man, and has one of the roundest and most lively faces I have seen amongst this grave people. His manners seemed as open as his countenance, and his conversation as spirited as his poetry. He could have kept me amused till morning; but midnight is the hour for separating, and the party broke up at once.

June 23.—We spent half the forenoon in Mr. West's gallery, where he has arranged all the pictures that he still owns. . . . He told us a singular anecdote of Nelson, while we were looking at the picture of his death. Just before he went to sea for the last time, West sat next to him at a large entertainment given to him here, and in the course of the dinner Nelson expressed to Sir William Hamilton his regret, that in his youth he had not acquired some taste for art and some power of discrimination. ‘But,’ said he, turning to West, ‘there is one picture whose power I do feel. I never pass a paint-shop where your “Death of Wolfe” is in the window, without being stopped by it.’ West, of course, made his acknowledgments, and Nelson went on to ask why he had painted no more like it. ‘Because, my lord, there are no more subjects.’ ‘D—n it,’ said the sailor, ‘I did n't think of that,’ and asked him to take a glass of champagne. ‘But, my lord, I fear your intrepidity will yet furnish me such another scene; and, if it should, I shall certainly avail myself of it.’ ‘Will you?’ said Nelson, pouring out bumpers, and touching his glass violently against West's,—‘will you, Mr. West? then I hope that I shall die in the next battle.’ He sailed a few days after, and the result was on the canvas before us.

After leaving Mr. West, I went by appointment to see Lord Byron. He was busy when I first went in, and I found Lady Byron alone. She did not seem so pretty to me as she did the other day; but what she may have lost in regular beauty she made up in variety and expression of countenance during the conversation. She is diffident,— she is very young, not more, I think, than nineteen,—but is obviously possessed of talent, and did not talk at all for display. For the quarter of an hour during which I was with her, she talked upon a considerable variety of subjects,—America, of which she seemed to know considerable; of France, and Greece, with something of her husband's visit there,—and spoke of all with a justness and a light good-humor that would have struck me even in one of whom I had heard nothing.

With Lord Byron I had an extremely pleasant and instructive [64] conversation of above an hour. He is, I think, simple and unaffected. When he speaks of his early follies, he does it with sincerity; of his journeys in Greece and the East, without ostentation; of his own works he talks with modesty, and of those of his rivals, or rather contemporaries, with justice, generosity, and discriminating praise. In everything, as far as I have seen him, he is unlike the characters of his own ‘Childe Harold’ and ‘Giaour,’ and yet, those who know him best and longest, say that these stories are but the descriptions of his early excesses, and these imaginary characters but the personification of feelings and passions which have formerly been active, but are now dormant or in abeyance. Of this, of course, I know nothing, but from accounts I have received from respectable sources, and the internal evidence, which I have always thought strongly in favor of them.

This morning I talked with him of Greece, because I wished to know something of the modes of travelling there. He gave me a long, minute, and interesting account of his journeys and adventures, not only in Greece, but in Turkey; described to me the character and empire of Ali Pacha, and told me what I ought to be most anxious to see and investigate in that glorious country. He gave me, indeed, more information on this subject than all I have before gathered from all the sources I have been able to reach; and did it, too, with so much spirit, that it came to me as an intellectual entertainment, as well as a valuable mass of instruction.

An anecdote was told me to-day of the Great Captain, which, as it is so characteristic, and, besides,—coming to me only at second-hand, from his aid who brought the despatches,—so surely authentic, that I cannot choose but record it. ‘During the first and second days,’3 said Major Percy, ‘we had the worst of the battle, and thought we should lose it. On the third and great day, from the time when the attack commenced in the morning until five o'clock in the evening, we attempted nothing but to repel the French. During all this time we suffered most terribly, and three times during the course of the day we thought nothing remained to us but to sell our lives as dearly as possible. Under every charge the Duke of Wellington remained nearly in the same spot; gave his orders, but gave no opinion,—expressed no anxiety,—showed, indeed, no signs of feeling. They brought him word that his favorite regiment was [65] destroyed, and that his friends had fallen,—nay, he saw almost every one about his person killed or wounded,—but yet he never spoke a word or moved a muscle, looking unchanged upon all the destruction about him. At last, at five o'clock, the fire of the French began to slacken. He ordered a charge to be made along the whole line,—a desperate measure, which, perhaps, was never before ventured under such circumstances; and when he saw the alacrity with which his men advanced towards the enemy, then, for the first time, laying his hand with a sort of convulsive movement on the pistols at his saddlebow, he spoke, as it were in soliloquy, and all he said was, “That will do!” In ten minutes the route of the French was complete. And yet this great man, twice in India and once in Spain, had almost lost his reputation, and even his rank, by being unable to control the impetuosity of his disposition. In the night one of his aids passed the window of the house where he had his quarters, and found him sitting there. He told the Duke he hoped he was well. “Don't talk to me of myself, Major,” he said; “I can think of nothing, and see nothing, but the Guards. My God! all destroyed! It seems as if I should never sleep again!” This was his favorite regiment; and when they were mustered, after the battle, out of above a thousand men, less than three hundred answered.’

June 25.—Mr. Campbell asked me to come out and see him to-day, and make it a long day's visit. So, after the morning service, I drove out, and stayed with him until nearly nine this evening. He lives in a pleasant little box, at Sydenham, nine miles from town, a beautiful village, which looks more like an American village than any I have seen in England. His wife is a bonny little Scotchwoman, with a great deal of natural vivacity; and his only child, a boy of about ten, an intelligent little fellow, but somewhat injured by indulgence, I fear. . . . . They seem very happy, and have made me so, for there was no one with them but myself, except an old schoolmate of Campbell's, now a barrister of considerable eminence. . . . . Campbell had the same good spirits and love of merriment as when I met him before,—the same desire to amuse everybody about him; but still I could see, as I partly saw then, that he labors under the burden of an extraordinary reputation, too easily acquired, and feels too constantly that it is necessary for him to make an exertion to satisfy expectation. The consequence is, that, though he is always amusing, he is not always quite natural.

He showed me the biographical and critical sketches of the English Poets which he is printing. . . . . They will form three volumes, and [66] consist, I imagine, chiefly of the lectures he delivered at the Institution, newly prepared with that excessive care which is really a blemish in his later works, and which arises, I suppose, in some degree from a constitutional nervousness which often amounts to disease.

Lord Byron told me that he had injured his poem of ‘Gertrude,’ by consulting his critical friends too much, and attempting to reconcile and follow all their advice. His lectures at the Institution, from the same cause, though extremely popular at first, gradually became less so, though to the last they were remarkably well attended.

June 26.—I passed the greater part of this morning with Lord Byron. When I first went in, I again met Lady Byron, and had a very pleasant conversation with her until her carriage came, when her husband bade her the same affectionate farewell that struck me the other day. Soon after I went in, Mrs. Siddons was announced as in an adjoining parlor. Lord Byron asked me if I should not like to see her; and, on my saying I should, carried me in and introduced me to her. She is now, I suppose, sixty years old, and has one of the finest and most spirited countenances, and one of the most dignified and commanding persons, I ever beheld. Her portraits are very faithful as to her general air and outline, but no art can express or imitate the dignity of her manner or the intelligent illumination of her face. Her conversation corresponded well with her person. It is rather stately, but not, I think, affected; and, though accompanied by considerable gesture, not really overacted. She gave a lively description of the horrible ugliness and deformity of David the painter; told us some of her adventures in France, a year ago; and, in speaking of Bonaparte, repeated some powerful lines from the ‘Venice Preserved,’ which gave me some intimations of her powers of acting. She formed a singular figure by Lady Byron, who sat by her side, all grace and delicacy, and this showed Mrs. Siddons's masculine powers in the stronger light of comparison and contrast. Her daughter, who was with her, is the handsomest lady I have seen in England. She is about twenty.

After she was gone, the conversation naturally turned on the stage. Lord Byron asked me what actors I had heard, and, when I told him, imitated to me the manner of Munden, Braham, Cooke, and Kemble, with exactness, as far as I had heard them. Kemble has been ill ever since I arrived, and is now in Scotland, and of course I could not judge of the imitation of him.

Afterwards I had a long and singular conversation with Lord Byron, in which, with that simplicity which I have uniformly found to mark [67] his character, he told me a great deal of the history of his early feelings and habits; of the impressions of extreme discontent under which he wrote ‘Childe Harold,’ which he began at Joannina and finished at Smyrna; and of the extravagant intention he had formed of settling in Greece, which, but for the state of his affairs, that required his presence in England, he should have fulfilled. The ‘English Bards and Scotch Reviewers,’ he told me, he wrote at his paternal estate in the country, the winter before he set forth on his travels, while a heavy fall of snow was on the ground, and he kept house for a month, during which time he never saw the light of day, rising in the evening after dark, and going to bed in the morning before dawn. ‘The Corsair,’ he told me, he wrote in eleven days, and copied on the twelfth, and added, that whenever he undertook anything, he found it necessary to devote all his thoughts to it until he had finished it. This is the reason why he can never finish his ‘Childe Harold.’ It is so long since he laid it aside, that he said it would now be entirely impossible for him to resume it. From some of his remarks, I think it not unlikely that he may next turn his thoughts to the stage, though it would be impossible, in a mind constituted like his, to predict the future from the present.

After all, it is difficult for me to leave him, thinking either of his early follies or his present eccentricities; for his manners are so gentle, and his whole character so natural and unaffected, that I have come from him with nothing but an indistinct, though lively impression of the goodness and vivacity of his disposition.

June 27.—This evening I went to Drury Lane, to see Kean in the part of Leon. Lord Byron, who is interested in this theatre, and one of its managing committee, had offered me a seat in his private box. . . . . There was nobody there, this evening, but Lord and Lady Byron, and her father and mother. It was indeed only a very pleasant party, who thought much more of conversation than of the performance; though Kean certainly played the part well, much better than Cooper does. In the next box to us sat M. G. Lewis; a very decent looking man compared with the form my imagination had given to the author of the ‘Monk,’ and the ‘Castle Spectre.’

Lord Byron was pleasant, and Lady Byron more interesting than I have yet seen her. Lord Byron told me one fact that surprised me very much,—that he knew the Prince Regent to be very well read in English literature, and a pretty good scholar in Latin and Greek, the last of which he had known him to quote in conversation. Fas est et ab hoste doceri. [68]

Lady Milbank, Lady Byron's mother, is a good-natured old lady,— a little fashionable, however, I fear,—and her husband, a plain, respectable Englishman, who loves politics, and hates the French above everything. The afterpiece was ‘Charles the Bold,’ a genuine melodrama, full of drums and trumpets, and thunder and music, and a specimen of the state of the English stage, which I had never felt fully till now. However, the pleasant conversation in the box prevented me from being much annoyed by the piece, and I was really sorry when it was over; and I shook hands with Lord Byron for the last time with unexpected regret.

I think I have received more kindness from Lord Byron than from any person in England on whom I had not the regular claim of a letter of introduction. Besides the letters he has sent me for Fauriel and Ali Pacha, he accompanied the last with a present of a splendid pistol, which is to insure me a kind reception with the perverse Turk, and a copy of his own poems, and one of Dr. Holland's ‘Travels in Greece,’ which was given to him by the author,—with whom he has authorized me to use his name, to procure further facilities for my journey, if I should meet him on the Continent.

June 29.—To-day, after some trouble, though none arising unnecessarily in the public offices, I have obtained my passport, and gone through the melancholy duty of calling on the friends who have been kind to me,—bade farewell to the loungers at Murray's literary Exchange, and called on Lord Byron, who told me that he yet hoped to meet me in America. He said he never envied any men more than Lewis and Clarke, when he read the account of their expedition.

Mr. Ticknor left London on the 30th of June with the same delightful party of friends with whom he had crossed the ocean, and, crossing by Harwich, landed at Helvoetsluys. There, he says, ‘We took the only two machines in the village,—a coach, which seemed to be without springs, and a wagon, which did not even pretend to have any,—to transport us to Rotterdam. Our road, the whole distance, went over a dyke, and some portions of it were on the coast, where the broad ocean leans against the land.’ From Rotterdam, they went to the Hague, Leyden, Haarlem, Amsterdam, and Utrecht, where he parted from Mr.Perkins and Mrs. Perkins, and Mr. and Miss Haven; and with Mr. Everett and young Perkins,4 went on his way to [69] Gottingen. Of this parting, he says: ‘It was not, indeed, like the bitterness of leaving home, but it was all else, and, indeed, in the sense of desolation, the same. For more than three months we had lived together as one family, . . . . and the affections which had long existed were ripened into the nearest intimacy.’

On the 13th of July, at Amsterdam, he tells his father that he has been busy in buying books and seeing sights, and then says:—

The country itself is a standing miracle perpetually before my eyes, which loses none of its power to excite my wonder by losing its novelty. It is impossible to give any good reason for it, but I cannot entirely divest myself of a sensation of insecurity, whenever I recollect that I am living many feet below the surface of the sea, and protected from its inundation only by works of human invention and strength, which in other cases avail so little against the power of the element.

When, on entering Amsterdam, I passed over the narrow neck that unites it to the mainland, and saw the sea chafing against the shores on each side of me, much higher than the road on which I was travelling, I could not help feeling something as a French gentleman did, who, after receiving an invitation to dine in Amsterdam, had occasion to pass over the isthmus on a stormy day, when the ocean was rather more violent than it commonly is, and, instead of returning to observe his engagement, hastened to the Hague, and sent back, for an excuse, that he had seen the water breaking over the dike, and was sure that Amsterdam could not exist two days longer; and yet nothing can be more absurd, though I am sure nothing can be more natural, than these feelings and fears. . . . .

From Amsterdam he proceeded directly to Gottingen, where he arrived on the 4th of August.

1 This must be taken as a proof of the power Miss O'Neil exercised, for Mr. Ticknor had often seen Cooke in Boston, and placed his acting above that of any male actor whom he saw in Europe. He saw Cooke in Shylock nine times in succession, generally leaving the theatre after Shylock's last scene.

2 In a note subsequently added, Mr. Ticknor stated that Elmsley was not the writer of the articles ascribed to him.

3 By the ‘first and second days’ Major Percy must have meant the battle at Quatre Bras on the 16th and the retreat to Waterloo on the 17th. The battle of Waterloo was begun and ended in one day.

4 To be placed at school in Gottingen.

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