previous next

Chapter 7: marriage: tour in Europe

Quite other experiences were in store for me. I chanced to pass the summer of 1841 at a cottage in the neighborhood of Boston, with my sisters and a young friend much endeared to us as the betrothed of the dearly loved brother Henry, whose recent death had greatly grieved us.

Longfellow and Sumner often visited us in our retirement. The latter once made mention of Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe's wonderful achievement in the case of Laura Bridgman, the first blind deaf mute who had ever been taught the use of language. He also brought us some of the reports which gave an account of the progress of her education. It was proposed that we should drive over to the Perkins Institution on a given day. Mr. Longfellow came for me in a buggy, while Mr. Sumner conducted my two sisters and our friend.

We found Laura, then a child of ten years, seated at her little desk, and beside her another girl of the same age, also a blind deaf mute. The name of this last was Lucy Reed, and we learned [82] that, until brought to the Institution, she had been accustomed to cover her head and face with a cotton bag of her own manufacture. Her complexion was very delicate and her countenance altogether pleasing. While the two children were holding converse through the medium of the finger alphabet, Lucy's face was suddenly lit up by a smile so beautiful as to call forth from us an involuntary exclamation. Unfortunately, this young girl was soon taken away by her parents, and I have never had any further knowledge concerning her.

Dr. Howe was absent when we arrived at the Institution, but before we took leave of it, Mr. Sumner, looking out of a window, said, ‘Oh! here comes Howe on his black horse.’ I looked out also, and beheld a noble rider on a noble steed. The doctor dismounted, and presently came to make our acquaintance. One of our party proposed to give Laura some trinket which she wore, but Dr. Howe forbade this rather sternly. He made upon us an impression of unusual force and reserve. Only when I was seated beside Longfellow for the homeward drive, he mischievously remarked, ‘Longfellow, I see that your horse has been down,’ at which the poet seemed a little discomfited.

Mr. Sanborn, in the preface to his biography of Dr. Howe, says:— [83]

‘It has fallen to my lot to know, both in youth and in age, several of the most romantic characters of our century; and among them one of the most romantic was certainly the hero of these pages. That he was indeed a hero, the events of his life sufficiently declare.’

This writer, in his interesting memoir, often quotes passages from one prepared by myself shortly after my husband's death. In executing this work, I was forced to keep within certain limits, as my volume was primarily intended for the use of the blind, a circumstance which necessitated the printing of it in raised letters. As this process is expensive, and its results very cumbersome, economy of space becomes an important condition in its execution.

Mr. Sanborn, not having suffered this limitation, and having had many documents at his disposal, has been able to add much interesting matter to what I was only able to give in outline. An even fuller biography than his will be published ere many years, by our children, but the best record of the great philanthropist's life remains in the new influences which he brought to bear on the community. Traces of these may be found in the improved condition of the several classes of unfortunates whose interests he espoused and vindicated, often to the great indignation of parties less enlightened. He himself [84] had, what he was glad to recognize in Wendell Phillips, a prophetic quality of mind. His sanguine temperament, his knowledge of principles and reliance upon them, combined to lead him in advance of his own time. Experts in reforms and in charities acknowledge the indebtedness of both to his unremitting labors. What the general public should most prize and hold fast is the conviction, so clearly expressed by him, that humanity has a claim to be honored and aided, even where its traits appear most abnormal and degraded. He demanded for the blind an education which would render them self-supporting; for the idiot, the training of his poor and maimed capabilities; for the insane and the criminal, the watchful and redemptive tutelage of society. In the world as he would have had it, there should have been neither paupers nor outcasts. He did all that one man could do to advance the coming of this millennial consummation.

My husband, Dr. Howe, was my senior by nearly a score of years. If I mention this discrepancy in our ages, it is that I may acknowledge in him the superiority of experience which so many years of the most noble activity had naturally given him. My own true life had been that of a student and of a dreamer. Dr. Howe had read and thought much, but he had also acquired the practical knowledge which is rarely [85] attained in the closet or at the desk. His career from the outset had been characterized by energy and perseverance. In his college days, this energy had found much of its vent in undertakings of boyish mischief. When he came to man's estate, a new inspiration took possession of him. The devotion to ideas and principles, the zeal for the rights of others which go to make up the men of public spirit—those leading traits now appeared in him, and at once gave him a place among the champions of human freedom.

The love of adventure and the example of Lord Byron had, no doubt, some part in his determination to cast in his lot with the Greeks in the memorable struggle which restored to them their national life. But the solidity and value of the services which he rendered to that oppressed people showed in time that he was endowed, not only with the generous impulses of youth, but with the forethought of mature manhood.

After some years of gallant service, in which he shared all the privations of the little army, accustoming himself to the bivouac by night, to hunger, hard fare, and constant fighting by day, he became convinced that the Greeks were in danger of being reduced to submission by absolute starvation. All the able-bodied men of the nation were in the field. The Turks had devastated the land, and there were no hands to till [86] it. He therefore returned to America, and there preached so effectual a crusade in behalf of the Greeks that a considerable sum of money was contributed for their relief. These funds were expended by Dr. Howe in shiploads of clothing and provisions, of which he himself superintended the distribution, thus enabling the Greeks to hold out until a sudden turn in political affairs induced the diplomacy of western Europe to espouse their cause.

When the liberation of Greece had become an assured fact, Dr. Howe returned to America to find and take up his life-work. The education of the blind presented a worthy field for his tireless activity. He founded, built up, and directed the first institution for their benefit known in this country. This was a work of great difficulty, and one for which the means at hand appeared utterly inadequate. Beginning with the training of three little blind children in his father's house, he succeeded so well in enlisting the sympathies of the public in behalf of the class which they represented that funds soon flowed in from various sources. The present well-known institution, with its flourishing workshop, printing establishment, and other dependencies, stands to attest his work, and the support given to it by the community.

A new lustre was added to his name by the [87] wonderful series of experiments which brought the gifts of human speech and knowledge to a blind deaf mute. The story of Laura Bridgman is too well known to need repetition in these pages. As related by Charles Dickens in his ‘American Notes,’ it carried Dr. Howe's fame to the civilized world. When he visited Europe with this deed of merit put upon his record, it was as one whom high and low should delight to honor.

Mr. Emerson somewhere speaks of the romance of some special philanthropy. Dr. Howe's life became an embodiment of this romance. Like all inspired men, he brought into the enterprises of his day new ideas and a new spirit. Deep in his heart lay a sense of the dignity and ability of human nature, which forced him to reject the pauperizing methods then employed in regard to various classes of unfortunates. The blind must not only be fed and housed and cared for; they must learn to make their lives useful to the community; they must be taught and trained to earn their own support. Years of patient effort enabled him to accomplish this; and the present condition of the blind in American communities attests the general acceptance of their claim to the benefits of education and the dignity of useful labor.

Dr. Howe's public services, however, were by [88] no means limited to the duties of his especial charge. With keen power of analysis, he explored the most crying evils of society, seeking to discover, even in their sources, the secret of their prevention and cure. His masterly report on idiocy led to the establishment of a school for feeble-minded children, in which numbers of these were trained to useful industries, and redeemed from brutal ignorance and inertia. He aided Dorothea Dix in her heroic efforts to improve the condition of the insane. He worked with Horace Mann for the uplifting of the public schools. He stood with the heroic few who dared to advocate the abolition of slavery. In these and many other departments of work his influence was felt, and it is worthy of remark that, although employing his power in so many directions, his use of it was wonderfully free from waste. He indulged in no vaporous visions, in no redundancy of phrases. The documents in which he gave to the public the results of his experience are models of statement, terse, simple, and direct.

I became engaged to Dr. Howe during a visit to Boston in the winter of 1842-43, and was married to him on the 23rd of April of the latter year. A week later we sailed for Europe in one of the small Cunard steamers of that time, taking with us my youngest sister, Annie Ward, whose state of health gave us some uneasiness. My [89] husband's great friend, Horace Mann, and his bride, Mary Peabody, sailed with us. During the first two days of the voyage I was stupefied by sea-sickness, and even forgot that my sister was on board the steamer. On the evening of the second day I remembered her, and managed with the help of a very stout stewardess to visit her in her stateroom, where she had for her roommate a cousin of the poet Longfellow. We bewailed our common miseries a little, but the next morning brought a different state of things. As soon as I was awake, my husband came to me bringing a small dose of brandy with cracked ice. ‘Drink this,’ he said, ‘and ask Mrs. Bean [the stewardess] to help you get on your clothes, for you must go up on deck; we shall be at Halifax in a few hours.’ Magnetized by the stronger will, I struggled with my weakness, and was presently clothed and carried up on deck. ‘Now, I am going for Annie,’ said Dr. Howe, leaving me comfortably propped up in a safe seat. He soon returned with my dear sister, as helpless as myself. The fresh air revived us so much that we were able to take our breakfast, the first meal we ate on board, in the saloon with the other passengers. We went on shore, however, for a walk at Halifax, and from that time forth were quite able-bodied sea-goers.

On the last day before that of our landing, an [90] unusually good dinner was served, and, according to the custom of the time, champagne was furnished gratis, in order that all who dined together might drink the Queen's health. This favorite toast was accordingly proposed and responded to by a number of rather flat speeches. The health of the captain of our steamer was also proposed, and some others which I cannot now recall. This proceeding amused me so much that I busied myself the next day with preparing for a mock celebration in the ladies' cabin. The meeting was well attended. I opened with a song in honor of Mrs. Bean, our kind and efficient stewardess.

God save our Mrs. Bean,
Best woman ever seen,
God save Mrs. Bean.
God bless her gown and cap,
Pour guineas in her lap,
Keep her from all mishap,
God save Mrs. Bean.

The company were invited to join in singing these lines, which were, of course, a take-off on ‘God save our gracious Queen.’ I can still see in my mind's eye dear old Madam Sedgwick, mother of the well-known jurist, Theodore of that name, lifting her quavering, high voice to aid in the singing.

Mrs. Bean was rather taken aback by the unexpected homage rendered her. We all called [91] out: ‘Speech! speech!’ whereupon she curtsied and said: ‘Good ladies makes good stewardesses; that's all I can say,’ which was very well in its way.

Rev. Jacob Abbott was one of our fellow passengers, and had been much in our cabin, where he busied himself in compounding various ‘soft drinks’ for convalescent lady friends. His health was accordingly proposed with the following stanza:—

Dr. Abbott in our cabin,
Mixing of a soda-powder,
How he ground it,
How did pound it,
While the tempest threatened louder.

I next gave the cow's health, whereupon a lady passenger, with a Scotch accent, demurred: ‘I don't want to drink her health at aa. I think she is the poorest coo I ever heard of.’

Arriving in London, we found comfortable lodgings in Upper Baker Street, and busied ourselves with the delivery of our many letters of introduction.

The Rev. Sydney Smith was one of the first to honor our introduction with a call. His reputation as a wit was already world-wide, and he was certainly one of the idols of London society. In appearance he was hardly prepossessing. He was short and squat of figure, with a rubicund countenance, [92] redeemed by a pair of twinkling eyes. When we first saw him, my husband was suffer. ing from the result of a trifling accident. Mr. Smith said, ‘Dr. Howe, I must send you my gouty crutches.’

My husband demurred at this, and begged Mr. Smith not to give himself that trouble. He insisted, however, and the crutches were sent. Dr. Howe had really no need of them, and I laughed with him at their disproportion to his height, which would in any case have made it impossible for him to use them. The loan was presently returned with thanks, but scarcely soon enough; for Sydney Smith, who had lost heavily by American investments, published in one of the London papers a letter reflecting severely upon the failure of some of our Western States to pay their debts. The letter concluded with these words: ‘And now an American, present at this time in London, has deprived me of my last means of support.’ One questioned a little whether the loan had not been made for the sake of the pleasantry.

In the course of the visit already referred to, Mr. Smith promised that we should receive cards for an entertainment which his daughter, Mrs. Holland, was about to give. The cards were received, and we presented ourselves at the party. Among the persons there introduced to us was Mme. Van de Weyer, wife of the Belgian minister, [93] and daughter of Joshua Bates, formerly of Massachusetts, and in after years the founder of the Public Library of Boston, in which one hall bears his name. Mr. Van de Weyer, we were told, was on very friendly terms with the Prince Consort, and his wife was often invited by the Queen.

The historian Grote and his wife also made our acquaintance. I especially remember her appearance because it was, and was allowed to be, somewhat grotesque. She was very tall and stout in proportion, and was dressed on this occasion in a dark green or blue silk, with a necklace of pearls about her throat. I gathered from what I heard that hers was one of the marked personalities of that time in London society.

At this party Sydney Smith was constantly the centre of a group of admiring friends. When we first entered the rooms, he said to us, ‘I am so busy to-night that I can do nothing for you.’

Later in the evening he found time to seek me out. ‘Mrs. Howe,’ said he, ‘this is a rout. I like routs. Do you have routs in America?’

‘We have parties like this in America,’ I replied, ‘but we do not call them routs.’

‘What do you call them there?’

‘We call them receptions.’

This seemed to amuse him, and he said to some one who stood near us:—

Mrs. Howe says that in America they call routs re-cep-tions.’ [94]

He asked what I had seen in London so far. I replied that I had recently visited the House of Lords, whereupon he remarked:—

Mrs. Howe, your English is excellent. I have only heard you make one mispronunciation. You have just said “House of Lords.” We say “House of Lards.” ’ Some one near by said, ‘Oh, yes! the house is always addressed as “ my luds and gentlemen.” ’

When I repeated this to Horace Mann, it so vexed his gentle spirit as to cause him to exclaim, ‘House of Lords? You ought to have said “House of Devils.” ’

I have made several visits in London since that time, one quite recently, and I have observed that people now speak of receptions, and not of routs. I think, also, that the pronunciation insisted upon by Sydney Smith has become a thing of the past

I think that Mrs. Sydney Smith must have called or have left a card at our lodgings, for I distinctly remember a morning call which I made at her house. The great wit was at home on this occasion, as was also his only surviving son. An elder son had been born to him, who probably inherited something of his character and ability, and whose death he laments in one or more of his published letters. The young man whom I saw at this time was spoken of as much devoted to [95] the turf, and the only saying of his that I have ever heard quoted was his question as to how long it took Nebuchadnezzar to get into condition after he had been out to grass.

Mrs. Smith received me very pleasantly. She seemed a grave and silent woman, presenting in this respect a striking contrast to her husband. I knew very little of the political opinions of the latter, and innocently inquired whether he and Mrs. Smith went sometimes to court. The question amused him. He said to his wife, ‘My dear, Mrs. Howe wishes to know whether you and I go to court.’ To me he said, ‘No, madam. That is a luxury which I deny myself.’

I last saw Sydney Smith at an evening party at which, as usual, he was surrounded by friends. A very amiable young American was present, apropos of whom I heard Mr. Smith say:—

‘I think I shall go over to America and settle in Boston. Perkins here says that he'll patronize me.’

Thomas Carlyle was also one of our earliest visitors. Some time before leaving home, Dr. Howe had received from him a letter expressing his great interest in the story of Laura Bridgman as narrated by Charles Dickens. In this letter he mentioned Laura's childish question, ‘Do horses sit up late?’ In the course of his conversation he said, laughing heartily: ‘Laura Bridg [96] man, dear child! Her question, Do horses sit up late?’

Before taking leave of us he invited us to take tea with him on the following Sunday. When the day arrived, my husband was kept at home by a severe headache, but Mr.Mann and Mrs. Mann, my sister, and myself drove out to Chelsea, where Mr. Carlyle resided at that time. In receiving us he apologized for his wife, who was also suffering from headache and could not appear.

In her absence I was requested to pour tea. Our host partook of it copiously, in all the strength of the teapot. As I filled and refilled his cup, I thought that his chronic dyspepsia was not to be wondered at. The repast was a simple one. It consisted of a plate of toast and two small dishes of stewed fruit, which he offered us with the words, ‘Perhaps ye can eat some of this. I never eat these things myself.’

The conversation was mostly a monologue. Mr. Carlyle spoke with a strong Scotch accent, and his talk sounded to me like pages of his writings. He had recently been annoyed by some movement tending to the disestablishment of the Scottish Church. Apropos of this he said, ‘That auld Kirk of Scotland! To think that a man like Johnny Graham should be able to wipe it out with a flirt of his pen!’ Charles Sumner was spoken of, and Mr. Carlyle said, ‘Oh yes; Mr. Sumner [97] was a vera dull man, but he did not offend people, and he got on in society here.’

Carlyle's hair was dark, shaggy, and rather unkempt; his complexion was sallow, with a slight glow of red on the cheek; his eye was full of fire. As we drove back to town, Mr. Mann expressed great disappointment with our visit. He did not feel, he said, that we had seen the real Carlyle at all. I insisted that we had.

Soon after our arrival in London a gentleman called upon us whom the servant announced as Mr. Mills. It happened that I did not examine the card which was brought in at the same time. Dr. Howe was not within, and in his absence I entertained the unknown guest to the best of my ability. He spoke of Longfellow's volume of poems on slavery, then a recent publication, saying that he admired them.

Our talk turning upon poetry in general, I remarked that Wordsworth appeared to be the only poet of eminence left in England. Before taking leave of me the visitor named a certain day on which he requested that we would come to breakfast at his house. Forgetful of the card, I asked ‘Where?’ He said, ‘You will find my address on my card. I am Mr. Milnes.’ On looking at the card I found that this was Richard Monckton Milnes, afterward known as Lord Houghton. I was somewhat chagrined at remembering [98] the remark I had made in connection with Wordsworth. He probably supposed that I was ignorant of his literary rank, which I was not, as his poems, though never very popular, were already well known in America.

The breakfast to which Mr. Milnes had invited us proved most pleasant. Our host had recently traveled in the East, and had brought home a prayer carpet, which we admired. His sister, Lady Galway, presided at table with much grace.

The breakfast was at this time a favorite mode of entertainment, and we enjoyed many of these occasions. I remember one at the house of Sir Robert Harry Inglis, long a leading Conservative member of the House of Commons. Punch once said of him:—

The Inglis thinks the world grows worse,
     And always wears a rose.

And this flower, which always adorned his buttonhole, seemed to match well with his benevolent and somewhat rubicund countenance. At the breakfast of which I speak, he cut the loaf with his own hands, saying to each guest, ‘Will you have a slice or a hunch?’ and cutting a slice from one end or a hunch from the other, according to the preference expressed.

These breakfasts were not luncheons in disguise. They were given at ten, or even at half past 9 o'clock. The meal usually consisted of fish, cutlets, [99] eggs, cold bread and toast, with tea and coffee. At Samuel Rogers's I remember that plover's eggs were served.

We also dined one evening with Mr. Rogers, and met among the guests Mr. Dickens and Lady B., one of the beautiful Sheridan sisters. A gentleman sat next me at table, whose name I did not catch. I had heard much of the works of art to be seen in Mr. Rogers's house, and so took occasion to ask him whether he knew anything about pictures. He smiled, and answered, ‘Well, yes.’ I then begged him to explain to me some of those which hung upon the walls, which he did with much good-nature. Presently some one at the table addressed him as ‘Mr. Landseer,’ and I became aware that I was sitting next to the celebrated painter of animals. His fine face had already attracted me. I apologized for the question which I had asked, and which had somewhat amused him.

I had recently seen at Stafford House a picture of his, representing two daughters of the Duke of Sutherland playing with a dog. He said that he did not care much for that picture, that the Duchess had herself chosen the subject, etc. Mr. Rogers, indeed, possessed some paintings of great value, one a genuine Raphael, if I mistake not. He had also many objects of virtu. I think it was after a breakfast at his house that he showed us [100] some Etruscan potteries. Dr. Howe took up one of these rather carelessly. It was a cup, and the handle became separated from it. My husband appeared so much disconcerted at this that I could not help laughing a little at the expression of his countenance. Mr. Rogers afterwards said to an American friend, ‘Mrs. Howe was quite cruel to laugh at the doctor's embarrassment.’ On one occasion he showed us some autograph letters of Lord Byron, with whom he had been well acquainted. He read a passage from one of these, in which Lord Byron, after speaking of the ancient custom of the Doge wedding the Adriatic, wrote: ‘I wish the Adriatic would take my wife.’

In after years I was sometimes questioned as to what had most impressed me during my first visit in London. I replied unhesitatingly, ‘The clever people collected there.’ The moment, indeed, was fortunate. We had come well provided with letters of introduction. Besides this, my husband was at the time a first-class lion, and this merit avails more in England than any other, and more there than elsewhere.

Mr. Sumner had given us a letter to the Marquis of Lansdowne, which the latter honored by a call, and further by sending us cards for a musical evening at Lansdowne House. Lord Lansdowne was a gracious host. His lady was more formal in manner. Their music-room was oblong [101] in shape, and the guests were seated along the wall on either side. Before the performance began I noticed a movement among those present, the cause of which became evident when the Duchess of Gloucester appeared, leaning on the arm of the master of the house. She was attired, or, as newspapers put it, ‘gowned,’ in black, wearing white plumes in her headdress, and with bare neck and arms, according to the imperative fashion of the time. She was well advanced in years, and had probably never been remarked for good looks, but was said to be beloved by the Queen and by many friends.

The programme of the entertainment was one which to-day would seem rather commonplace, though the performers were not so. A handsome young man, of slender figure, opened the concert by singing the serenade from the opera of ‘Don Pasquale.’ I felt at once that this must be Mario, but that name cannot suggest to one who never heard him either the beauty of his voice or the refinement of his intonation. I still feel a sort of intoxication when I recall his rendering of “Coma é gentil.” Grisi sang several times. She was then in what some one has termed, ‘the insolence of her youth and beauty.’ Mlle. Persiani, also of the grand opera, gave an air by Gluck, which I myself had studied, “Pago fui, Fui lieto un di” Lord Lansdowne told me that [102] this lady was the most obliging of artists. I afterwards heard her in ‘Linda di Chamounix,’ which was then in its first favor. The concert ended with the prayer from Rossini's ‘Mose in Egitto,’ sung by the artists already named with the addition of the great Lablache.

At the conclusion of it we adjourned to the supper-room, which afforded us a better opportunity of observing the distinguished company. My husband was presently engaged in conversation with the Hon. Mrs. Norton, who was then very handsome. Her hair, which was decidedly black, was arranged in flat bandeaux, according to the fashion of the time. A diamond chain, formed of large links, encircled her fine head. Her eyes were dark and full of expression. Her dress was unusually decolletee, but most of the ladies present would in America have been considered extreme in this respect. Court mourning had recently been ordered for the Duke of Sussex, uncle to the Queen, and many black dresses were worn. My memory, nevertheless, tells me that the great Duchess of Sutherland wore a dress of pink moire, and that her head was adorned with a wreath of velvet leaves interspersed with diamonds. Her brother, Lord Morpeth, was also present. I heard a lady say to him, ‘Are you worthy of music?’ He replied, ‘Oh, yes; very worthy.’ I heard the same [103] phrase repeated by others, and, on inquiring as to its meaning, was told that it was a way of asking whether one was fond of music. The formula has long since gone out of fashion.

Somewhat later in the season we were invited to dine at Lansdowne House. Among the guests present I remember Lord Morpeth. I had some conversation with the daughter of the house, Lady Louisa Fitzmaurice, who was pleasing, but not pretty, and wore a dress of light blue silk, with a necklace around her throat formed of many strands of fine gold chain. I was asked at this dinner whether I should object to sitting next to a colored person in, for example, a box at the opera. Were I asked this question to-day, I should reply that this would depend upon the character and cleanliness of the colored person, much as one would say in the case of a white man or woman. I remember that Lord Lansdowne wore a blue ribbon across his breast, and on it a flat star of silver.

Among the well-remembered glories of that summer, the new delight of the drama holds an important place. I had been denied this pleasure in my girlhood, and my enjoyment of it at this time was fresh and intense. Among the attentions lavished upon us during that London season were frequent offers of a box at Covent Garden or ‘Her Majesty's.’ These were never declined. [104] Of especial interest to me was a performance of Macready as Claude Melnotte in Bulwer's ‘Lady of Lyons.’ The part of Pauline was played by Helen Faucit. Both of these artists were then at their best. Thomas Appleton, of Boston, and William Wadsworth, of Geneseo, were with us in our box. The pathetic moments of the play moved me to tears, which I tried to hide. I soon saw that all my companions were affected in the same way, and were making the same effort. I saw Miss Faucit again at an entertainment given in aid of the fund for a monument to Mrs. Siddons. She recited an ode written for the occasion, of which I still recall the closing line:—

And measure what we owe by what she gave.

I saw Grisi in the great role of Semiramide, and with her Brambilla, a famous contralto, and Fornasari, a basso whom I had longed to hear in the operas given in New York. I also saw Mlle. Persiani in ‘Linda di Chamounix’ and ‘Lucia di Lammermoor.’ All of these occasions gave me unmitigated delight, but the crowning ecstasy of all I found in the ballet. Fanny Elssler and Cerito were both upon the stage. The former had lost a little of her prestige, but Cerito, an Italian, was then in her first bloom and wonderfully graceful. Of her performance my sister said to me, ‘It seems to make us better to see [105] anything so beautiful.’ This remark recalls the oft-quoted dialogue between Margaret Fuller and Emerson apropos of Fanny Elssler's dancing:—

‘Margaret, this is poetry.’

Waldo, this is religion.’

I remember, years after this time, a talk with Theodore Parker, in which I suggested that the best stage dancing gives us the classic in a fluent form, with the illumination of life and personality. I cannot recall, in the dances which I saw during that season, anything which appeared to me sensual or even sensuous. It was rather the very ecstasy and embodiment of grace.

A ball at Almack's certainly deserves mention in these pages, the place itself belonging to the history of the London world of fashion. The one of which I now speak was given in aid of the Polish refugees who were then in London. The price of admission to this sacred precinct would have been extravagant for us, but cards for it were sent us by some hospitable friend. The same attention was shown to Mr.Mann and Mrs. Mann, who with us presented themselves at the rooms on the appointed evening.

We found them spacious enough, but with no splendor or beauty of decoration. A space at the upper end of the ball-room was marked off by rail or ribbon—I cannot remember which. While we were wondering what this should mean, [106] a brilliant procession made its appearance, led by the Duchess of Sutherland in some historic costume. She was followed by a number of persons of high rank, among whom I recognized her lovely daughters, Lady Elizabeth Leveson-Gower and Lady Evelyn. These young ladies and several others were attired in Polish costume, to wit, polonaises of light blue silk, and short white skirts which showed the prettiest little red boots imaginable. This high and mighty company took possession of the space mentioned above, where they proceeded to dance a quadrille in rather solemn state.

The company outside this limit stood and looked on. Among the groups taking part in this state quadrille was one characterized by the dress worn at court presentations: the ladies in pink and blue brocades, with plumes and lappets; the gentlemen in small-clothes, with swords, —and all with powdered hair.

I first met the Duchess of Sutherland at a dinner given in our honor by Lord Morpeth's parents, the Earl and Countess of Carlisle. The Great Duchess, as the Duchess of Sutherland was often called, was still very handsome, though already the mother of grown — up children. She wore a dress of brown gauze or barege over light blue satin, with a wreath of brown velvet leaves and blue forget-me-nots in her hair, and on her arm, [107] among other jewels, a miniature of the Queen set in diamonds. At one time she was Mistress of the Robes, but I am not sure whether she held this office at the time of which I speak. Her relations with the palace were said to be very intimate and friendly. In the picture of the Queen's Coronation, so well known to us by engravings, hers is one of the most striking figures.

We did, indeed, hear that on one occasion the Duchess had kept the Queen waiting, and that the sovereign said to her on her arrival, ‘Duchess, you must allow me to present you with my watch, yours evidently does not keep good time.’ The eyes of the proud Duchess filled with tears, and, on returning home, she sent to the palace a letter resigning her post in the royal service. The Queen was, however, very fond of her, and the little difficulty was soon amicably settled.

I recall a pleasantry about Lady Carlisle that was current in London society in the season of which I write. Sydney Smith pretended to have dreamed that Lord Morpeth had brought back a black wife from America, and that his mother, on seeing her, had said, ‘She is not so very black.’ Lady Carlisle was proverbial for her kindliness and good temper, and it was upon this point that the humor of the story turned.

I will also mention a dinner given in our honor by John Kenyon, well known as a Maecenas of [108] that period. Miss Sedgwick, in her book of travels, speaks of him as a distinguished conversationalist, much given to hospitality. He is also remembered as a cousin of Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

The scenes just described still remain quite vivid in my memory, but it would be difficult for me to recount the visits made in those days by my husband and Horace Mann to public institutions of all kinds. I did indeed accompany the two philanthropists in some of their excursions, which included schools, workhouses, prisons, and asylums for the insane.

We went one day, in company with Charles Dickens and his wife, to visit the old prison of Bridewell. We found the treadmill in operation. Every now and then a man would give out, and would be allowed to leave the ungrateful work. The midday meal, bread and soup, was served to the prisoners while we were still in attendance. To one or two, as a punishment for some misdemeanor, bread alone was given. Charles Dickens looked on, and presently said to Doctor Howe, ‘My God! if a woman thinks her son may come to this, I don't blame her if she strangles him in infancy.’

At Newgate prison we were shown the fetters of Jack Sheppard and those of Dick Turpin. While we were on the premises the van arrived with fresh prisoners, and one of the officials appeared [109] to jest with a young woman who had just been brought in, and who, it seemed, was already well known to the officers of justice. Dr. Howe did not fail to notice this with disapprobation.

At one of the charity schools which we visited, Mr. Mann asked whether corporal punishment was used. ‘Commonly, only this,’ said the master, calling up a little girl, and snapping a bit of india rubber upon her neck in a manner which caused her to cry out. I need not say that the two gentlemen were indignant at this unprovoked infliction.

In strong contrast to old-time Bridewell appeared the model prison of Pentonville, which we visited one day in company with Lord Morpeth and the Duke of Richmond. The system there was one of solitary confinement, much approved, if I remember rightly, by ‘my lord duke,’ who interested himself in showing us how perfectly it was carried out. Neither at meals nor at prayers could any prisoner see or be seen by a fellow prisoner. The open yard was divided by brick walls into compartments, in each of which a single felon, hooded, took his melancholy exercise. The prison was extremely neat. Dr. Howe at the time approved of the solitary discipline. I am not sure whether he ever came to think differently about it.

At a dinner at Charles Dickens's we met his [110] intimate friend, John Forster, a lawyer of some note, later known as the author of a biography of Dickens. When we arrived, Mr. Forster was amusing himself with a small spaniel which had been sent to Mr. Dickens by an admiring friend, who desired that the dog might bear the name of Boz. Somewhat impatient of such tributes, Mr. Dickens had named it Snittel Timbury. Of the dinner, I only remember that it was of the best so far as concerns food, and that later in the evening we listened to some comic songs, of one of which I recall the refrain; it ran thus:—

Tiddy hi, tiddy ho, tiddy hi hum,
Thus was it when Barbara Popkins was young.

Mr. Forster invited us to dine at his chambers in the Inns of Court. Mr.Dickens and Mrs. Dickens were of the party, and also the painter Maclise, whose work was then highly spoken of. After dinner, while we were taking coffee in the sitting-room, I had occasion to speak to my husband, and addressed him as ‘darling.’ Thereupon Dickens slid down to the floor, and, lying on his back, held up one of his small feet, quivering with pretended emotion. ‘Did she call him “darling” ?’ he cried.

I was sorry indeed when the time came for us to leave London, and the more as one of the pleasures there promised us had been that of a breakfast with Charles Buller. Mr. Buller was the only person who at that time spoke to me of [111] Thomas Carlyle, already so great a celebrity in America. He expressed great regard for Carlyle, who, he said, had formerly been his tutor. I was sorry to find in papers of Carlyle's, recently published, a rather ungracious mention of this brilliant young man, whose early death was much regretted in English society.

From England we passed on to Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. In the inn at Llangollen we saw an engraving representing two aged ladies sitting opposite to each other, engaged in some friendly game. These were the once famous maids whose romantic elopement and companionship of many years gave the place some celebrity. In the burying-ground of the parish church we were shown their tomb, bearing an inscription not only commemorating the ladies themselves, but making mention also of the lifelong service of a faithful female attendant.

Of my visit to Scotland, never repeated, I recall with interest Holyrood Palace, where the blood stain of Rizzio's murder was still shown on the wooden floor, the grave of Sir Walter Scott at Abbotsford, and Stirling Castle, where, if I mistake not, the regalia of Robert Bruce was shown us. Among the articles composing it was a cameo of great beauty, surrounded by diamonds, and a crown set with large turquoises and sapphires.

We passed a Sunday at Melrose, and attended [112] an open-air service in the ruins of the ancient abbey. We saw little of Edinburgh besides its buildings, the society people of the place being mostly in villeggiatura. Mr. Sumner had given us letters to two of the law lords. One of these invited us to a seaside dinner at some little distance from town. The other entertained us at his city residence.

Of greater interest was our tour in Ireland. Lord Morpeth had given us some introductions to friends in Dublin. At the same time he had written Mr. Sumner that he hoped Dr. Howe would not in any way become conspicuous as a friend to the Repeal measures which were then much in the public mind. This Repeal portended nothing less than the disruption of the existing political union between Ireland and England. The Dublin Corn Exchange was the place in which Repeal meetings were usually held. We attended one of these. My sister and I had seats in the gallery, which was reserved for ladies. Dr. Howe remained on the floor. This meeting had for one of its objects the acknowledgment of funds recently sent from America. The women who sat near us in the gallery found out, somehow, that we were Americans, and that an American gentleman had accompanied us to the meeting. They insisted upon making this known, and only forbore to do so at our earnest request. [113]

These friends were vehement in their praise of O'Connell, who was the principal speaker of the occasion. ‘He's the best man, the most religious!’ they said; ‘he communes so often.’ I remember his appearance well, but can recall nothing of his address. He was tall, blond, and florid, with remarkable vivacity of speech and of expression. His popularity was certainly very great. While he was speaking, a gentleman entered and approached him. ‘How d'ye do, Tom Steele?’ said O'Connell, shaking hands with the new-comer. The audience applauded loudly, Steele being an intimate friend and ally of O'Connell, and, like him, an earnest partisan of Repeal.

Mr. George Ticknor, of Boston, had given us a letter to Miss Edgeworth, who resided at some distance from the city of Dublin. From her we soon received an invitation to luncheon, of which we gladly availed ourselves. Our hostess met us with a warm welcome. She had had some correspondence with Dr. Howe, and seemed much pleased to make his acquaintance. I remember her as a little old lady, with an old-fashioned cap and curls. She was very vivacious, and had much to say to Dr. Howe about Laura Bridgman. He in turn asked what she thought of the Repeal movement. She said in reply, ‘I don't understand what O'Connell really means.’

Some one present casually mentioned the new [114] substitution of lard oil for whale oil for use in lamps. Miss Edgeworth said, ‘I hear that, in consequence of this new fashion, the whale cannot bear the sight of a pig.’ We met on this occasion a half-brother and a half-sister of Miss Edgeworth, much younger than herself. I think that they must have been twins, so closely did they resemble each other in appearance. At parting Miss Edgeworth gave each of us an etching of Irish peasants, the work of a friend of hers. On the one which she gave to my husband she wrote, ‘From a lover of truth to a lover of truth.’

After leaving Dublin we traveled north as far as the Giant's Causeway. The state of the country was very forlorn. The peasantry lived in wretched hovels of one or two rooms, the floor of mud, the pig taking his ease within doors, and the chickens roosting above the fireplace. Beggars were seen everywhere, and of the most persistent sort. In most places where we stopped for the night, accommodations were far from satisfactory. The safest dishes to order were stirabout and potatoes.

My husband had received an urgent invitation from an Irish nobleman, Lord Walcourt, to visit him at his estate, which was in the south of Ireland. We found Lord Walcourt living very simply, with two young daughters and a baby son. He told my husband that when he first read a book of Fourier, he instantly went over to France [115] to make the acquaintance of the author, whom he greatly admired. ‘If I had only read on to the end of the book,’ he said, ‘I should have seen that Fourier was already dead.’

He told us that Lady Walcourt spent much time in London or on the Continent, from which we gathered that country life in Ireland was not much to her taste. Dr. Howe and our host had a good deal of talk together concerning socialistic and other reforms. My sister and I found his housekeeping rather meagre. He was evidently a whole-souled man, but we learned later on that he was considered very eccentric.

A visit to the poet Wordsworth was one of the brilliant visions that floated before my eyes at this time. Mr. Ticknor had kindly furnished us with an introduction to the great man, who was then at the height of his popularity. To criticise Wordsworth and to praise Byron were matters equally unpardonable in the London of that time, when London was, what it has ceased to be, the very heart and centre of the literary world. Of our journey to the lake country I can now recall little, save that its last stage, a drive of ten or more miles from the railway station to the poet's village, was rendered very comfortless by constant showers, and by an ill-broken horse which more than once threatened mischief. Arrived at the inn, my husband called at the Wordsworth residence, [116] and left there his card and the letter of introduction. In return a note was soon sent, inviting us to take tea that evening with Mr.Wordsworth and Mrs. Wordsworth.

Our visit was a very disappointing one. The widowed daughter of our host had lost heavily by the failure of certain American securities. These losses formed the sole topic of conversation not only between Wordsworth and Dr. Howe, but also between the ladies of the family, my sister, and myself. The tea to which we had been bidden was simply a cup of tea, served without a table. We bore the harassing conversation as long as we could. The only remark of Wordsworth's which I brought away was this: ‘The misfortune of Ireland is that it was only a partially conquered country.’ When we took leave, the poet expressed his willingness to serve us during our stay in his neighborhood. We left it, however, on the following morning, without seeing him or his again.

A little akin to this experience was that of a visit to the Bank of England, made at the invitation of one of its officers whom I had known and entertained in America. Another of the functionaries of the bank volunteered his services as a cicerone. He showed us among other things the treasure recently received from the Chinese government, in payment of a war indemnity. It was [117] all in little blocks, parallelograms and horseshoes of gold and silver. An ingenious little machine was also shown us for the detection of light weight sovereigns. We paid for his attention by listening to many uncivil pleasantries regarding the financial condition of our own country. I still remember the insolent sneer with which this gentleman said, ‘By the bye, have you sold the Bank of the United States yet?’ He was presumably ignorant of the real history of the bank, which had long ceased to be a government institution, President Jackson having annulled its charter and removed the government deposits.

I mention these incidents because they were the only exceptions to the uniform kindness with which we were generally received, and to the homage paid to my husband as one of the most illustrious of modem philanthropists.

Berlin would have been the next important stop in our journey but for an impediment which we had hardly anticipated. In the days of the French revolution of 1830, the Poles had made one of their oft-repeated struggles to regain national independence. General Lafayette was much interested in this movement, and at his request Dr. Howe undertook to convey to some of the Polish chiefs funds sent for their aid by persons in the United States. He succeeded in accomplishing this errand, but was arrested on the [118] very night of his arrival in Berlin, and was only released by the intervention of our government, after a tedious imprisonment au secret. He was then sent with a military escort to the confines of Prussia with the warning to return no more.

Thirteen years had elapsed since these events took place. Dr. Howe had meantime acquired a world-wide reputation as a philanthropist. The Poles had long been subdued, and Europe seemed to be free from all revolutionary threatenings. Through the intervention of Chevalier Bunsen, who was then Prussian ambassador at the Court of St. James, Dr. Howe applied for permission to revisit the kingdom of Prussia, but this was refused him. Some years after this time, Dr. Howe received from the Prussian government a gold medal in acknowledgment of his services to the blind. On weighing it, he found that the value of the gold was equal to the amount of money which he had been required to pay for his board in the prison at Berlin. In spite of the prohibition, we managed to see something of the Rhine, and journeyed through Switzerland and the Austrian Tyrol to Vienna, where we remained for some weeks. We here made the acquaintance of Madame von Walther and her daughter Theresa, afterward known as Madame Pulszky, the wife of one of Louis Kossuth's most valued friends. [119]

Arriving in Milan, we presented a letter of introduction from Miss Catharine Sedgwick to Count Confalonieri, after Silvio Pellico the most distinguished of the Italian patriots who underwent imprisonment in the Austrian fortress of Spielberg. His life had been spared only through the passionate pleading of his wife, who traveled day and night to throw herself at the feet of the Empress, imploring the commutation of the death sentence passed upon her husband. This heroic woman did not long survive the granting of her prayer. She died while her husband was still in prison; but the men who had been his companions in misfortune so revered her memory as always to lift their hats when they passed near her grave. Years had elapsed since the events of which I speak, and the count had married a second wife, a lively and attractive person, from whom, as from the count, we received many kind attentions.

Dr. Howe was at this time called to Paris by some special business, and I remained a month in Milan with my sister. We greatly enjoyed the beauty of the cathedral and the hospitality of our new friends. Among these were the Marchese Arconati and his wife, a lady of much distinction, and in after years a friend of Margaret Fuller.

Some delightful entertainments were given us by these and other friends, and I remember with pleasure an expedition to Monza, where the iron [120] crown of the Lombard kingdom is still shown. Napoleon is said to have placed it on his head while he was still First Consul. Apropos of this, we saw in one of the Milanese mansions a seat on which Napoleon had once sat, and which, in commemoration of this, bore the inscription, ‘Egli CI ha dato l'unione’ (He gave us unity). Alas! this precious boon was only secured to Italy many years later, and after much shedding of blood.

Several of the former captives of Spielberg were living in Milan at this time. Of these I may mention Castiglia and the advocate Borsieri. Two others, Foresti and Albinola, I had often seen in New York, where they lived for many years, beloved and respected. In all of them, a perfectly childish delight in living seemed to make amends for the long and dreary years passed in prison. Every pulse-beat of freedom was a joy to them. Yet the iron had entered deeply into their souls. Natural leaders and men of promise, they had been taken out of the world of active life in the very flower of their youth and strength. The fortress in which they were confined was gloomy and desolate. For many months no books were allowed them, and in the end only books of religion, so called. They had begged for employment, and were given wool to knit stockings, and dirty linen rags to scrape for lint, with the sarcastic remark that to people of their benevolent [121] disposition such work as this last should be most congenial. The time, they said, seemed endless in passing, but little when past, no events having diversified its dull blankness.

When I listened to the conversation of these men, and saw Italy so bound hand and foot by Austrian and other tyrants, I felt only the hopeless chaos of the political outlook. Where should freedom come from? The logical bond of imprisonment seemed complete. It was sealed with four impregnable fortresses, and the great spiritual tyranny sat enthroned in the centre, and had its response in every other despotic centre of the globe. I almost ask to-day, ‘By what miracle was the great structure overthrown?’ But the remembrance of this miracle forbids me to despair of any great deliverance, however desired and delayed. He who maketh the wrath of man to serve Him can make liberty blossom out of the very rod that the tyrant wields.

The emotions with which people in general approach the historic sites of the world have been so often described as to make it needless for me to dwell upon my own. But I will mention the thrill of wonder which overcame me as we drove over the Campagna and caught the first glimpse of St. Peter's dome. Was it possible? Had I lived to come within sight of the great city, Mistress of the World? Like much else in my journeying, [122] this appeared to me like something seen in a dream, scarcely to be apprehended by the bodily senses.

The Rome that I then saw was medieval in its aspect. A great gloom and silence hung over it. Coming to establish ourselves for the winter, we felt the pressure of many discomforts, especially that of the imperfect heating of houses. Our first quarters were in Torlonia's palace on the Piazza di Spagna. My husband found these gloomy and sunless, and was soon attracted by a small but comfortable apartment in Via San Nicola da Tolentino, where we passed a part of the winter. There my husband undertook one day to make a real Christmas fire. In doing so he dragged the logs too far forward on the unsubstantial hearth, setting fire to the crossbeams which supported the floor. This was fortunately discovered before the danger became imminent, and the mischief was soon remedied. I was not allowed to hear about it until long afterwards.

Dr. Howe went out early one morning, and did not return until late in the evening. Had I known at the time the reason of his absence, I should have felt great anxiety. He had gone to the post-office, but in doing so had passed some spot at which a sentry was stationed. He happened to be absorbed in his own thoughts, and did not notice the warning given. The sentry seized [123] him, and Dr. Howe began to beat him over the head. A crowd soon gathered, and my husband was arrested and taken to the guard-house. The situation was a grave one, but the doctor immediately sent for the American consul, George Washington Greene. With the aid of this friendly official the necessary explanations were made and accepted, and the prisoner was liberated.

The consul just mentioned was a cousin of my father and a grandson of the famous General Nathanael Greene of the Revolution. He was much at home in Roman society, and through him we had access to the principal houses in which were given the great entertainments of the season. The first of these that I attended appeared to me a melancholy failure, judging by our American ideas of a pleasant evening party. The great ladies sat very quietly in the salon of reception, and the gentlemen spoke to them in an undertone. There was none of the joyous effusion with which even a ‘few friends’ meet on similar occasions in Boston or New York. Exceeding stiffness was obviously the ‘good form’ of the occasion.

A ball given by the banker prince, Torlonia, presented a more animated scene. The beautiful princess of the house, then in the bloom of her youth, was conspicuous among the dancers. Her fair head was encircled by a fine tiara of diamonds. She was by birth a Colonna. The attraction of [124] the great fortune was said to have led to her alliance with the prince, who was equally her superior in age and her inferior in rank. I was told that he had presented his bride with the pearls formerly belonging to the shrine of the Madonna of Loretto, and I remember to have seen her once in evening dress, adorned with pearls of enormous size, which were probably those in question. I thought her quite as beautiful on another occasion, when she wore a simple gown of écru silk, with a necklace of carved coral beads. This was at a reception given at the charity school of San Michele, where a play was performed by the pupils of the institution. The theme of the drama was the worship of the golden calf by the Israelites and the overthrow of the idol by Moses.

The industrial school of San Michele, like every other institution in the Rome of that time, was entirely under ecclesiastical control. If I remember rightly, Monsignore Morecchini had to do with its management. This interesting man stood at the time at the head of the administration of public charities. He called one day at our lodgings, and I had the pleasure of listening to a long conversation between him and my husband, regarding chiefly the theme in which both gentlemen were most deeply interested, the education of the working classes. I was present, some time later, at a meeting of the Academy of St. Luke, at which [125] the same monsignore made an address of some length, and with his own hands presented the medals awarded to successful artists. One of these was given to an Italian lady, who appeared in the black costume and lace veil which are still de rigueur at all functions of the papal court. I remember that the monsignore delivered his address with a sort of rhythmic intoning, not unlike the singsong of the Quaker preaching of fifty years ago.

Of the matter of his discourse I can recall only one sentence, in which he mentioned as one of the boasts of Rome the fact that she possessed la maggiore basilica del mondo, ‘the largest basilica in the world.’ The Church of St. Peter, like that of Santa Maria Maggiore, is indeed modeled after the design of the basilicas or courts of justice of ancient Rome, and Italians are apt to speak of it as ‘la basilica di san Pietro.’ To another monsignore, Baggs by name, and Bishop of Pella, we owed our presentation to Pope Gregory Sixteenth, the immediate predecessor of Pope Pius Ninth. Our cousin the consul, George W. Greene, went with us to the reception accorded us. Papal etiquette was not rigorous in those days. It only required that we should make three genuflections, simply bows, as we approached the spot where the Pope stood, and three more in retiring, as from a royal presence, without turning [126] our backs. Monsignore Baggs, after presenting my husband, said to him, ‘Dr. Howe, you should tell his Holiness about the little blind girl [Laura Bridgman] whom you educated.’ The Pope remarked that he had been assured that the blind were able to distinguish colors by the touch. Dr. Howe said that he did not believe this. His opinion was that if a blind person could distinguish a stuff of any particular color, it must be through some effect of the dye upon the texture of the cloth.

The Pope said that he had heard there had been few Americans in. Europe during the past season, and had been told that they had been kept at home by the want of money, for which he made the familiar sign with his thumb and forefinger. Apropos of I forget what, he remarked, “Chi mi sente dare la benedizione del balcone di san Pietro intende cha io non sono un giovinotto,” ‘Whoever hears me give the benediction from the balcony of St. Peter's will understand that I am not a youth.’ The audience concluded, the Pope obligingly turned his back upon us, as if to examine something lying on the table which stood be. hind him, and thus spared us the inconvenience of bowing, curtsying, and retiring backward.

I remember to have heard of a great floral festival held not long after this time at some village near Rome. Among other exhibits appeared a medallion of his Holiness all done in flowers, the [127] nose being made rather bright with carnations. The Pope visited the show, and on seeing the medallion exclaimed, laughing, ‘Son brutto da vero, ma non cosi’ (I am ugly indeed, but not like this).

The experience of our winter in Rome could not be repeated at this day of the world. The Rome of fifty-five years ago was altogether mediaeval in its aspect. The great inclosure within its walls was but sparsely inhabited. Convent gardens and villas of the nobility occupied much space. The city attracted mostly students and lovers of art. The studios of painters and sculptors were much visited, and wealthy patrons of the arts gave orders for many costly works. Such glimpses as were afforded of Roman society had no great attraction other than that of novelty for persons accustomed to reasonable society elsewhere. The strangeness of titles, the glitter of jewels, amused for a time the traveler, who was nevertheless glad to return to a world in which ceremony was less dominant and absolute.

Among the frequent visitors at our rooms were the sculptor Crawford, Luther Terry, and Freeman, well known then and since as painters of merit. Between the first named of these and the elder of my two sisters an attachment sprang up, which culminated in marriage. Another artist of repute, Tormer by name, often passed the evening with us. He was somewhat deformed, and our [128] man-servant always announced him as ‘Quel gob. betto, signor,’ ‘That hunchback, sir.’

The months slipped away very rapidly, and the early spring brought the dear gift of another life to gladden and enlarge our own. My dearest, eldest child was born at Palazzetto Torlonia, on the 12th of March, 1844. At my request, the name of Julia Romana was given to her. As an infant she possessed remarkable beauty, and her radiant little face appeared to me to reflect the lovely forms and faces which I had so earnestly contemplated before her birth.

Of the months preceding this event I cannot at this date give any very connected account. The experience was at once a dream and a revelation. My mind had been able to anticipate something of the achievements of human thought, but of the patient work of the artist I had not had the smallest conception.

We visited, one day, the catacombs of St. Calixtus with a party of friends, among whom was the then celebrated Padre Machi, an ecclesiastic who was considered a supreme authority in this department of historic research. Acting as our guide, he pointed out to us the burial-places of martyrs, distinguished by the outline of a palm rudely impressed on the tufa out of which the various graves have been hollowed. We explored with him the little chapels which bear witness to the [129] ancient holding of religious services in this dark underground city of the dead. In these chapels the pictured emblem of the fish is often met with. Scholars do not need to be reminded that the Greek word was adopted by the early Christians as an anagram of the name and title of their leader. Each of us carried a lighted taper, and we were careful to keep well together, mindful of the danger of losing ourselves in the depths of these vast caverns. A story was told us of a party which was thus lost, and could never be found again, although a band of music was sent after them in the hope of bringing them into safety. While we were giving heed to the instructive discourse of Padre Machi, a mischievous youth of the company came near to me and said in a low voice, ‘Has it occurred to you that if our guide should suddenly die here of apoplexy, we should never be able to find our way out?’ This thought was dreadful indeed, and I confess that I was very thankful when at last we emerged from the depths into the blessed daylight.

Among the wonderful sights of that winter, I recall an evening visit to the sculpture gallery of the Vatican, where the statues were shown us by torchlight. I had not as yet made acquaintance with those marble shapes, which were rendered so lifelike by the artful illumination that when I saw them afterward in the daylight, it seemed to me that they had died. [130]

My husband visited one day the Castle of St. Angelo, which was then not only a fortress but also a prison for political offenders. As he passed through one of the corridors, a young man from an inner room or cell rushed out and addressed him, apparently in great distress of mind. He cried, ‘For the love of God, sir, try to help me! I was taken from my home a fortnight since, I know not why, and was brought here, where I am detained, utterly ignorant of the grounds of my arrest and imprisonment.’ This incident disturbed my husband very much. Of course, he could do nothing to aid the unfortunate man.

We were invited, one evening, to attend what the Romans still call an ‘accademia,’ i. e. a sort of literary club or association. It was held in what appeared to be a public hall, with a platform on which were seated those about to take part in the exercises of the evening. Among these were two cardinals, one of whom read aloud some Greek verses, the other a Latin discourse, both of which were applauded. After or before these, I cannot remember which, came a recitation from a once famous improvisatrice, Rosa Taddei. She is mentioned by Sismondi in one of his works as a young person, most wonderful in her performance. She was now a woman of middle age, wearing a sober gown and cap. The poem which she read was on the happiness to be derived from [131] a family of adopted children. I remember its conclusion. He who should give himself to the care of other people's children would be entitled to say:—

Formai questa famiglia
colla mia virtu.
I built myself this family
solely by my own merit.

The performances concluded with a satirical poem given by a layman, and describing the indignation of an elegant ecclesiastic at the visit of a man in poor and shabby clothes. His complaint is answered by a friend, who remarks:—

La vostra eccellenza
Vorrebbe tutti i poverelli ricchi.

Your Excellency
would have every poor fellow rich.

The presence of the celebrated phrenologist, George Combe, in Rome at this time added much to Dr. Howe's enjoyment of the winter, and to mine. His wife was a daughter of the great actress, Mrs. Siddons, and was a person of excellent mind and manners. Observing that she always appeared in black, I asked one day whether she was in mourning for a near relative. She replied, rather apologetically, that she adopted this dress on account of its convenience, and that English ladies, in traveling, often did so.

I remember that Fanny Kemble, who was a cousin of Mrs. Combe, once related the following [132] anecdote to Dr. Howe and myself: ‘Cecilia [Mrs. Combe] had grown up in her mother's shadow, for Mrs. Siddons was to the last such a social idol as to absorb the notice of people wherever she went, leaving little attention to be bestowed upon her daughter. This was rather calculated to sour the daughter's disposition, and naturally had that effect.’ Mrs. Kemble then spoke of a visit which she had made at her cousin's house after her marriage to Mr. Combe. In taking leave, she could not refrain from exclaiming, ‘Oh, Cecilia, how you have improved!’ to which Mrs. Combe replied, ‘Who could help improving when living with perfection?’

Dr. Howe and Mr. Combe sometimes visited the galleries in company, viewing the works therein contained in the light of their favorite theory. I remember having gone with them through the great sculpture hall of the Vatican, listening with edification to their instructive conversation. They stood for some time before the well-known head of Zeus, the contour and features of which appeared to them quite orthodox, according to the standard of phrenology.

In this last my husband was rather an enthusiastic believer. He was apt, in judging new acquaintances, to note closely the shape of the head, and at one time was unwilling even to allow a woman servant to be engaged until, at his request, [133] she had removed her bonnet, giving him an opportunity to form his estimate of her character or, at least, of her natural proclivities. In common with Horace Mann, he held Mr. Combe to be one of the first intelligences of the age, and esteemed his work on ‘The Constitution of Man’ as one of the greatest of human productions.

When, in the spring of 1844, I left Rome, in company with my husband, my sisters, and my baby, it seemed like returning to the living world after a long separation from it. In spite of all its attractions, I was glad to stand once more face to face with the belongings of my own time.

We journeyed first to Naples, which I saw with delight, thence by steamer to Marseilles, and by river boat and diligence to Paris.

My husband's love of the unusual must, I think, have prompted him to secure passage for our party on board the little steamer which carried us well on our way to Paris. Its small cabin was without sleeping accommodations of any kind. As the boat always remained in some port overnight, Dr. Howe found it possible to hire mattresses for us, which, alas, were taken away at daybreak, when our journey was resumed.

Of the places visited on our way I will mention only Avignon, a city of great historic interest, retaining little in the present day to remind the traveler of its former importance. My husband [134] here found a bricabrac shop, containing much curious furniture of ancient date. Among its contents were two cabinets of carved wood, which so fascinated him that, finding himself unable to decide in favor of either, he concluded to purchase both of them. The dealer of whom he bought them promised to have them packed so solidly that they might be thrown out of an upper window without sustaining any injury, adding, “Et de plus, jaecrirai la dessus ‘tres fragile’ ” (And in addition, I will mark it ‘very fragile’), which amused my husband. He had justified this purchase to me by reminding me that we should presently have our house to furnish. Indeed, the two cabinets proved an excellent investment, and are as handsome as ever, after much wear and tear of other household goods.

We made some stay in Paris, of which city I have chronicled elsewhere my first impressions. Among these was the pain of hearing a lecture from Philarete Chasles, in which he spoke most disparagingly of American literature, and of our country in general. He said that we had contributed nothing of value to the world of letters. Yet we had already given it the writings of Irving, Hawthorne, Emerson, Longfellow, Bryant, and Poe. It is true that these authors were little, if at all, known in France at that time; but the speaker, proposing to instruct the public, ought to have [135] informed himself concerning that whereof he assumed to speak with knowledge.

Dr. Howe attended one of the official receptions of M. Guizot, who was prime minister at this time. I tried to persuade him to wear the decorations given him by the Greek government in recognition of his services in the Greek revolution, but he refused to do so, thinking such ornaments unfitting a republican. I had the pleasure of witnessing one of the last performances of the celebrated danseuse, Madame Taglioni. She it was of whom one of the same profession said, ‘Nous autres, nous sautons et nous tombons, mais elle monte et elle descend.’ The ballet was ‘La Sylphide,’ in which she had achieved one of her earliest triumphs. Remembering this, Dr. Howe found her somewhat changed for the worse. I admired her very much, and her dancing appeared to me characterized by a perfection and finish which placed her beyond competition with more recent favorites.

I was fortunate also in seeing Mademoiselle Rachel in ‘La Czarina,’ a part which did not give full scope for her great talent. The demerits of the play, however, could not wholly overcloud the splendor of her unique personality, which at moments electrified the audience.

Our second visit to England, in the autumn of the year 1844, on the way back to our own country, was less brilliant and novel than our first, but [136] scarcely less in interest. We had received several invitations to visit friends at their country residences, and these opened to us the most delightful aspect of English hospitality. The English are nowhere so much at home as in the country, and they willingly make their visitors at home also.

Our first visit was at Atherstone, then the residence of Charles Nolte Bracebridge, one of the best specimens of an English country gentleman of the old school. His wife was a very accomplished gentlewoman, skillful alike with pencil and with needle, and possessed of much literary culture. We met here, among other guests, Mr. Henry Reeve, well known in the literary society of that time. Mrs. Bracebridge told us much of Florence Nightingale, then about twenty-four years old, already considered a person of remarkable character. Our hosts had visited Athens, and sympathized with my husband in his views regarding the Greeks. They were also familiar with the farther East, and had brought cedars from Mount Lebanon and Arab horses from I know not where.

Atherstone was not far from Coventry. Mr. Bracebridge claimed descent from Lady Godiva, and informed me that a descendant of Peeping Tom of Coventry was still to be found in that place. He himself was lord of the manor, but had neither son nor daughter to succeed him. He [137] told me some rather weird stories, one of which was that he had once waked in the night to see a female figure seated by his fireside. I think that the ghost was that of an old retainer of the family, or possibly an ancestress. An old prophecy also had been fulfilled with regard to his property. This was that when a certain piece of land should pass from the possession of the family, a small island on the estate would cease to exist. The property was sold, and the island somehow became attached to the mainland, and as an island ceased to exist.

My two sisters accompanied Dr. Howe and myself in the round of visits which I am now recording. They were young women of great personal attraction, the elder of the two an unquestioned beauty, the younger gifted with an individual charm of loveliness. They were much admired among our new friends. Thomas Appleton followed us at one of the houses in which we stayed. He told me, long afterwards, that he was asked at this time whether there were many young ladies in America as charming as the Misses Ward.

Mrs. Bracebridge in speaking to me of Florence Nightingale as a young person likely to make an exceptional record, told me that her mother rather feared this, and would have preferred the usual conventional life for her daughter. The father was a pronounced Liberal, and a Unitarian. [138] While we were still at Atherstone, we received an invitation to pass a few days with the Nightingale family at Emblee, and betook ourselves thither. We found a fine mansion of Elizabethan architecture, and a cordial reception. The family consisted of father and mother and two daughters, both born during their parents' residence in Italy, and respectively christened Parthenope and Florence, one having first seen the light in the city whose name she bore, the other in Naples.

Of the two, Parthenope was the elder; she was not handsome, but was piquante and entertaining. Florence, the younger sister, was rather elegant than beautiful; she was tall and graceful of figure, her countenance mobile and expressive, her conversation most interesting. Having heard much of Dr. Howe as a philanthropist, she resolved to consult him upon a matter which she already had at heart. She accordingly requested him one day to meet her on the following morning, before the hour for the family breakfast. He did so, and she opened the way to the desired conference by saying, ‘Dr. Howe, if I should determine to study nursing, and to devote my life to that profession, do you think it would be a dreadful thing?’

‘By no means,’ replied my husband. ‘I think that it would be a very good thing.’

So much and no more of the conversation Dr. Howe repeated to me. We soon heard that Miss [139] Florence was devoting herself to the study of her predilection; and when, years after this time, the Crimean war broke out, we were among the few who were not astonished at the undertaking which made her name world famous.

Just before our final embarkation for America, we passed a few days with the same friends at Lea Hurst, a pretty country seat near Malvern. There we met the well-known historian, Henry Hallam, celebrated also as the father of Tennyson's lamented Arthur. ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’ had recently appeared, and I remember that Mr. Hallam read aloud with much amusement the famous transcendental episode beginning, ‘To be introduced to a Pogram by a Hominy.’ Mr. Hallam asked me whether talk of this sort was ever heard in transcendental circles in America. I was obliged to confess that the caricature was not altogether without foundation.

Soon after reaching London for the second time, we were invited to visit Dr. and Mrs. Fowler at Salisbury. The doctor was much interested in anthropology and kindred topics, and my husband found in him a congenial friend. The house was a modest one, but the housekeeping was generous and tasteful. As Salisbury was a cathedral town, the prominent people of the place naturally belonged to the Anglican Church. At the Fowlers' hospitable board we met the bishop, the dean, the rector, and the curate. [140]

I attended several services in the beautiful cathedral, and enjoyed very much a visit to Stonehenge, which we made in company with our hosts, in a carriage drawn by two small mules. I inquired why they used mules in preference to horses, and was told that it was to avoid the tax imposed upon the latter. Stonehenge was in the district of Old Sarum, once a rotten borough, as certain places in England were termed which, with little or no population, had yet the right to be represented in Parliament. Dr. Fowler was familiar with the ancient history of the place, which, as we saw it, contained nothing but an area of desolate sand. The wonderful Druidical stones of Stonehenge commanded our attention. They are too well known to need description. Our host could throw no light upon their history, which belongs, one must suppose, with that of kindred constructions in Brittany.

Bishop Denison, at the time of our visit, was still saddened by the loss of a beloved wife. He invited us to a dinner at which his sister, Miss Denison, presided. The dean and his wife were present, the Fowlers, and one or two other guests. To my surprise, the bishop gave me his arm and conducted me to the table, where he seated me on his right. Mrs. Fowler afterwards remarked to me, ‘How charming it was of the bishop to take you in to dinner. As an American you have [141] no rank, and are therefore exempt from all questions of precedence.’

Mrs. Fowler once described to me an intimate little dinner with the poet Rogers, for which he had promised to provide just enough, and no more. Each dish exactly matched the three convives. Half of a chicken sufficed for the roast. As his usual style of entertainment was very elegant, he probably derived some amusement from this unnecessary economy.

We left Salisbury with regret, Dr. Fowler giving Dr. Howe a parting injunction to visit Rotherhithe workhouse, where he himself had seen an old woman who was blind, deaf, and crippled. My husband made this visit, and wrote an account of it to Dr. Fowler.1 He read this to me before [142] sending it. In the mischief of which I was then full to overflowing, I wrote a humorous travesty of Dr. Howe's letter in rhyme, but when I showed it to him, I was grieved to see how much he seemed pained at my frivolity.

Dear Sir, I went south
     As far as Portsmouth,
And found a most charming old woman,
     Delightfully void
Of all that's enjoyed
     By the animal vaguely called human.

She has but one jaw,
     Has teeth like a saw,
Her ears and her eyes I delight in: [143]
     The one could not hear
Thoa a cannon were near,
     The others are holes with no sight in.

Her sinciput lies
     Just over her eyes,
Not far from the bone parietal;
     The crown of her head,
Be it vulgarly said,
     Is shaped like the back of a beetle.

Destructiveness great
     Combines with conceit
In the form of this wonderful noddle,
     But benevolence, you know,
And a large philopro
     Give a great inclination to coddle.

And so on.

1 This old woman was one of a number of trebly-afflicted persons—deaf, dumb, and blind—whom Dr. Howe found time to visit on this wedding trip, beginning their instruction himself in some cases, and interesting persons in the neighborhood in carrying it on. In his report of the Institution for the Blind, written after his return from Europe in 1844, he gives an account of these cases, closing with an eloquent appeal in behalf of these neglected and suffering members of the human family.

And here the question will recur to you (for I doubt not it has occurred a dozen times already), Can nothing be done to disinter this human soul? It is late, but perhaps not too late. The whole neighborhood would rush to save this woman if she were buried alive by the caving in of a pit, and labor with zeal until she were dug out. Now if there were one who had as much patience as zeal, and who, having carefully observed how a little child learns language, would attempt to lead her gently through the same course, he might possibly awaken her to a consciousness of her immortal nature. The chance is small indeed; but with a smaller chance they would have dug desperately for her in the pit; and is the life of the soul of less import than that of the body?

It is to be feared that there are many others whose cases are not known out of their own families, who are regarded as beyond the reach of help, and who are therefore left in their awful desolation.

This ought not to be, either for the good of the sufferers, or of those about them. It is hardly possible to conceive a case in which some improvement could not be effected by patient perseverance; and the effort ought to be made in every one of them.

The sight of any being, in human shape, left to brutish ignorance, is always demoralizing to the beholders. There floats not upon the stream of life any wreck of humanity so utterly shattered and crippled that its signals of distress should not challenge attention and command assistance.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Samuel Gridley Howe (55)
Sydney Smith (13)
Charles Dickens (12)
Horace Mann (11)
Charles Sumner (8)
Thomas Carlyle (8)
William Wordsworth (7)
George Combe (7)
Samuel Longfellow (6)
Fowler (6)
Bean (6)
Sutherland (5)
Samuel Rogers (5)
Laura Bridgman (5)
Daniel O'Connell (4)
Maria Edgeworth (4)
Charles Nolte Bracebridge (4)
Palazzetto Torlonia (3)
Cecilia Siddons (3)
Catharine Sedgwick (3)
Richard Monckton Milnes (3)
Henry Hallam (3)
John Forster (3)
Ralph Waldo Emerson (3)
Carlisle (3)
Weyer (2)
George Ticknor (2)
Tom Steele (2)
Frank Sanborn (2)
Persiani (2)
Parthenope (2)
Florence Nightingale (2)
Louis Napoleon (2)
Mlle (2)
Padre Machi (2)
London (2)
Fanny Kemble (2)
Grisi (2)
George Washington Greene (2)
Margaret Fuller (2)
Fourier (2)
Helen Faucit (2)
Fanny Elssler (2)
Denison (2)
Linda Di Chamounix (2)
Cecilia (2)
Charles Buller (2)
Bridewell (2)
Monsignore Baggs (2)
Thomas Appleton (2)
Americans (2)
Jacob Abbott (2)
Zeus (1)
Annie Ward (1)
Theresa Von Walther (1)
Waldo (1)
Walcourt (1)
William Wadsworth (1)
Dick Turpin (1)
Tormer (1)
Tiddy (1)
Theresa (1)
Luther Terry (1)
Tennyson (1)
Taglioni (1)
Rosa Taddei (1)
Sol (1)
Sismondi (1)
Caroline Sheridan (1)
Jack Sheppard (1)
Walter Scott (1)
Rossini (1)
Julia Romana (1)
Henry Reeve (1)
Lucy Reed (1)
Mademoiselle Rachel (1)
Pulszky (1)
Barbara Popkins (1)
Edgar Allan Poe (1)
Pius (1)
Wendell Phillips (1)
Perkins (1)
Silvio Pellico (1)
Mary Peabody (1)
Don Pasquale (1)
Theodore Parker (1)
Andrews Norton (1)
Moses (1)
Monsignore Morecchini (1)
Mills (1)
Claude Melnotte (1)
Mario (1)
William Charles Macready (1)
Richard Lyons (1)
Elizabeth Leveson (1)
Edwin Landseer (1)
Lucia Di Lammermoor (1)
Lafayette (1)
Louis Kossuth (1)
Kirk (1)
John Kenyon (1)
Andrew Jackson (1)
Washington Irving (1)
Robert Harry Inglis (1)
Lea Hurst (1)
J. G. Holland (1)
Hawthorne (1)
M. Guizot (1)
Gregory (1)
Nathanael Greene (1)
Johnny Graham (1)
Gower (1)
Godiva (1)
Galway (1)
Edward Freeman (1)
Felice Foresti (1)
Louisa Fitzmaurice (1)
Evelyn (1)
Dorothea Dix (1)
Coventry (1)
Confalonieri (1)
Coma (1)
Martin Chuzzlewit (1)
Philarete Chasles (1)
Byron (1)
Chevalier Bunsen (1)
Bulwer (1)
William Cullen Bryant (1)
Robert Bruce (1)
Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1)
Laura Bridg (1)
Joshua Bates (1)
Avignon (1)
Arthur (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1844 AD (3)
March 12th, 1844 AD (1)
1843 AD (1)
1842 AD (1)
1841 AD (1)
1830 AD (1)
April 23rd (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: