Mr. Slidell of Louisiana, and a young man apparently his companion, are perhaps the most unexceptionable human beings that one sees. Some Spaniards from Mexico and Cuba are also pleasant to look at, specially two little boys. A maiden aunt and nephew from Burlington, New Jersey, sit near me, and are not so bad. A horrid woman from New York whines, or rather wheines, or whaines, or even whoines just beyond, whom it is misery even to think of. I feel convinced there is a purgatory for vulgar people.
I like America all the better for the comparison with England on my return. Certainly I think you are more right than I was willing to admit about the position of the lower classes here. I hope you will be able to get along without anything like it, and in any case you have a great blessing in the mere chance of that. Such is my first re-impression. However, it will wear off soon enough, I dare say; so you must make the most of my admission. Thackeray, they tell me, is full of the kind-heartedness and generousness of the Americans, and is faithful to his purpose of writing no book.
The thing is done; and I am to try my hand in this place. I go to the Education Office on Monday next. With the prospect of being able to marry within the year, I could hardly do otherwise. Yet I could not venture with any comfort without the prospect of America beyond.
Everybody is away from town, except a few stray lawyers and newspaper contributors. I took a long walk yesterday, calling at Highgate, on the Homers, with a young Morning Chronicler, son of the Vicar of Conway, a first-class man at Oxford, and Fellow of University. We went on beyond Highgate to a place called Muswell Hill, and thence near Colney Hatch, near the Great Northern Railway, and across the course of the New River to Southwell, where we got some luncheon, and then came back to Hornsey, where we got an omnibus, after walking from 12.30 to 5.
I met the other day, at the Homers’, Murray, the ci-devant American, just come from Egypt, and starting for Berne, where he is to have office: he is really very American. The Pulskys came in in the, evening. I have met Mr. Pulsky three times in the last twelve months perhaps—once in England before I came away; then at Mrs. Howe’s, Boston, with you; and again yesterday, chez Mrs. Horner. We meet with the utmost unconcern under the oddest changes of circumstances; it is really very cosmopolitan.
Well, I go on in the office—operose nihil agendo—very operose, and very nihil too. London is dead empty, or nearly so. The Lords are scampering through the last bills, heaven knows how many per night. The Commons are off grousewards, and scarcely any one remains to ask one to dinner or anything else.
I am very glad to be enrolled among the φ.β.κ.’s. What can I do to express my sense of the honour done me? I assure you I am very glad of any tie with my sometime fellowcitizens, if I may so call them. England, we who know America agree, is more endurable because of one’s knowledge of America as a refuge. However, my employment in England is in one respect, namely, in its entire freedom from all spiritual despotism or surveillance, more agreeable than what I used to have.
I am very glad to hear something reasonable about American politics. As for naturalisation, it seems to me a little cloud that must cover a good space of the political heavens before long. I think the old countries must abandon their present doctrine of inalienable right. It seems fair, however, to allow some interval of time; and in case of ‘rebels,’ I should say no fully naturalised citizen, far less a man going to be a citizen, can claim with any justice to return to his old country and be protected by his new country. After full five years Kossuth could not without insult go to Vienna. It would be quite enough that he should go to Turkey or the Canton Tessin, which I would claim for him.
The old classical system by which closer ties of relationship between this country and that, than between this and some third, seems no bad one. Between America and England, between the British American Colonies in particular and the United States, one would be glad if there could exist some isopolity: that a man might be a citizen in which he pleased, and change about as he chose. Treaties with different countries might establish different degrees of privilege very naturally. Had I remained with you, I would gladly have become an American citizen; but I should not like to pledge myself to fight against England, except in defence of my new country. It seems to me it would be well if that degree of transfer were open to one.
Your woods are in full beauty, I suppose, about this time. There is something visible of autumnal richness even here in the Regent’s Park.
Thackeray is off to Paris. He seems restless and uneasy after his Transatlantic travel. Europe feels small to him.
My own feeling is really that, rather than anything else, of your happiness in having so long and so much enjoyed the blessing of your father’s society. This is all the more striking to me, as I was parted from my father at nine years old, and hardly had begun to know him properly again before his death, soon after I had taken my degree at Oxford. I am truly glad that my visit to America was early enough to let me know your father.
Tell Child not to be too learned about his Chaucer, for my sake; and, above all, to make the verses scan. I hesitate about recommending any indications of the metre in the typography. But a set of simple directions, emphatically and prominently given at the outset (e.g. for the sounding or silencing of the final e) will, I think, be essential. People won’t read Chaucer against their ears.
There is a curious notion afloat among the German extreme radicals, that Russia is more hopeful than feudal Western Europe; that the life of the Russian commune is pure democracy; and except that every member is bound to the soil, and cannot quit it except by placing himself under the quasiownership of a seigneur, I believe there is some truth in the statement. However, I don’t think we can afford to try.
Carlyle has, like Emerson, just lost his mother; like her, I should think, rather a remarkable woman. He left the Ashburtons’ house in Hampshire just after I got there, to go and see her at Ecclefechan, in Annandale.
Will you tell me, please, what is the amount of rate for schools in Boston and Cambridge? I am right, am I not, in telling people that children of colour attend the schools at Cambridge, but not at Boston?
For a scrap of news—
Such was the monody uttered over himself by the invalided ex-editor of the ‘Quarterly,’ on retiring for an Italian seclusion.
I read your article on Indian Canals with much pleasure and interest. I think it is very well done, and I hope it is all true. I fancy the Company have rather gained in public estimation by their late ordeal of trial.
Bright, you see, has for the first time come out for the secular system. It is a great accession to that cause, which, however, I think myself cannot prevail for our country in general. For the clergy in the country parishes are almost always the only persons who really exert themselves, the population in general being at present too apathetic to think of managing these matters. But in the municipal towns something perhaps could be done. And certainly all through the land the secular schools should receive government subsidies, from which at present. they are excluded.
Convocation, you will perhaps observe, is allowed to sit, and there really is to be an effort to set the old church a going again; much to its own and other people’s alarm. The census, by which it appears that the church people, so far as attendance on Census Sunday went, are quite a minority, has taken the world by surprise.
Well, here we are going to war; and really people after their long and dreary commercial period seem quite glad: the feeling of the war being just is of course a great thing. The enlightened or official opinion of the Turkish troops meantime is extremely low.
As for the poems, I really do think seriously of accepting your benevolent offer, but I don’t think I can set to work to unravel my weaved-up follies at the present moment. There are very few, indeed, that I can at all find pleasure in seeing again.
Is it true, as is said, that Longfellow has resigned? If so, he will come over here and run the gauntlet of idolising young ladies, will he not? However, I think he is adroit enough to steer through the Belgravian multitude without much damage.
People talk a good deal about Whewell’s book on the ‘Plurality of Worlds.’ I recommend Fields to pirate it. It is to show that Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, &c., are all pretty certainly uninhabitable, being strange, washy limbos of places, where at the best only mollusks (or in the case of Venus, salamanders) could exist. Hence we conclude that we are the only rational creatures, which is highly satisfactory, and what is more, quite scriptural. Other scientific people, on the other hand, declare it a most presumptuous essay, conclusions audacious, and reasoning fallacious, though the facts are allowed; and in that opinion I, on the ground that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in the inductive philosophy, incline to concur. Meantime, it is thought possible that Whewell may rise to the Episcopate on the wings of the orthodox inductive philosophy.
Politics here are rather colourless. Scotch education is thrown overboard by a coalition between the landowners, establishmentarians, and voluntaries, who have defeated government by eight votes. The Oxford Bill will pass, with a few scratches in committee rather damaging to it, but not very momentous. Gladstone, I think, has done himself great honour by refusing to borrow for the war, but the bankers and great capitalists have been abusing him furiously. By this time you are all scattering to the seas and the hills, and Boston will be getting hot and empty, and the shadow of the pines an object of exceeding desire, but for the mosquitoes.
You, in the meantime, are in all the turmoil of a renewed slavery contest. From this distance it almost looks as if the aggression would be of more use in breaking down the idea of compromise than of harm in its actual results.
I am going on here, working in the office in the ordinary routine, which, however, after years of Greek tuition, is really a very great relief. All education is in England, and I think in America, so mixed up with religious matters, that it is a great difficulty.
Cholera is amongst us, as you see, and laying low lords even; Lord Beaumont (but not by cholera) in the last three weeks, besides Lord Jocelyn.
Did you see the ‘Examiner’ on Mrs. Stowe’s ‘Sunny Memories?’ quite a severe article, and quite unnecessarily so, I should say. The use of quite is a peculiarity which I quite remarked myself, but I think you have quite a right to use it as a substitute, if you please, for our less exact ‘very,’ and in colloquial writing no one ought to object. I don’t see that the old-country English are to have the exclusive right of introducing new expressions.
I suppose there is not much doubt about a few general rules, though Chaucer did not regularly observe them, as, for example, the use of the ĕ in adjectives after definite articles, which it seems to me he omits occasionally, with French adjectives, as if it was a matter of ear rather than rule. So also with such Saxon dissyllables as tymĕ, which is not invariably a dissyllable, I think. And yet it would be worth while giving a list of such words as are liable to be dissyllables. However, ere this, I dare say you have settled all these preliminaries. I don’t quite see what you should do about the Miller’s and the Reve’s tales. I think explanation might be a little retrenched there, so as to leave them in the ‘decent obscurity of a learned language.’ They are thoroughly English stories, but I don’t know whether they are New English. They are just what would be relished to this day in public-houses in farming districts, but I can’t say that I could wish them urged upon any palate that does not already fancy them, and I don’t much admire the element in the English character that does relish them. It is a great thing, no doubt, to do dirty work, and the English are pretty good at it; but when it ceases to be work, it is a different thing, and I don’t see much good in it.
I think the Americans have the advantage of being less ‘farceurs’ than the British subject is apt to be. There is a sort of servants’-hall facetiousness which predominates in the cockney world, and finds its way into literature, which I think deserves no sort of imitation or admiration.
I have just been taking a house in the extreme skirts of the Regent’s Park, not far from the Zoological Gardens, with a canal underneath it, and some very un-Venetian gondolas, called here coal-barges, passing to and fro upon it in the foreground, while in the distance rise the suburban Alps of ’Ampstead and ’Ighgate—‘Oh breathe on them softly’—and a little to one side swells the pastural eminence of Primrose Hill.
London is empty, of course, and only excited by the terror of cholera, which is however, I believe, subsiding. Positively, for two or three days last week, in the district between Leicester Square and Oxford Street, north and south, and Soho Square and Regent Street, east and west, there were scenes not unlike those of the old Plague. It has often been asserted that this was one of the great burying-places of the old 1665 Plague, and this outbreak is by some ascribed to this. How ever, virulent as it was, it was as brief; and fortunately, perhaps, it came just at the beginning of a new Health Report week, so that it did not get into the papers till it was pretty well over.
Tell me a little about politics, as the weather gets cooler. I am at the mercy of the ‘Times,’ and don’t believe that it knows much about anything. Are there really any ‘Know-nothings,’ and is it really a matter of importance? That the Whigs will not, as a body, join as yet in political alliance with the Free-soil party, I suppose, is true.
I send a little volume, ‘Scaliger’s Poetics,’ with Johnson’s autograph (pretty certain, I believe), for your own antiquarian appropriation, if you will have it.
According to Lord Burghersh, the aide-de-camp, who is just come home with despatches, Lord Raglan is everything out there; neither St. Arnaud nor Canrobert at all compare with him. His advice carried it for landing where they did, both the Frenchmen being for other places, which experience afterwards showed would have been impossible. His character has risen greatly in reputation. In the middle of the fighting, when he rode up into very dangerous places, looking after things, his aides-de-camp remonstrated, and were answered by ‘Be quiet, I’m busy.’ Fortunately he is so wise as to wear nothing but a plain foraging cap, and so is scarcely observed.
You, meantime, must be thinking more of the Arctic than of the Crimea. When I came over from New York last summer, I remember the probability of some such calamity happening being discussed on board the ‘Asia,’ when we met the ‘Andes’ right upon our track, fortunately on a clear day.
There is an immense interest, or rather anxiety, about our little army in the Crimea. I passed some recruits the other day, and a man looking on said, ‘They’ll all be killed; every man Jack of them; I’m sorry for it.’ Generally the feeling is of apprehension, or even worse, on the arrival of untoward news.
This new Indian Civil Service scheme may, I dare say, interest you. I rather regret that so little is made of Eastern languages. I think Persian might be allowed as a study almost co-ordinate with Latin and Greek, and quite with French, German, and Italian, as at present valued in the scheme.
Our literature, at present, is the war column in the newspaper. The best military reports are those of the ‘Morning Herald,’ I am told; but Macdonald, the hospital correspondent at Constantinople, has been more successful practically than ever newspaper correspondent yet had the glory of being.
Unless Sebastopol gets taken before long, it will, I think, upset the present ministry, and perhaps the present aristocracy along with them; and Laing, Layard, and Lowe, if they can provide themselves with a sufficient Co., may come in as the new parliamentary firm. The war, which the great people, lords and statesmen, thought would be unpopular in a few months, is more likely, I think, to become a popular question versus lords and statesmen. There is no murmuring at the new taxes, but a good deal at the old politicians.
Here is an authentic anecdote from Vienna. The French and English Plenipotentiaries urged how natural the arrangement would be that the Euxine should, like the American lakes, be common to both nations; to which Prince Gortschakoff answered, that he should not object to that, were there only a Niagara at the Dardanelles.
I congratulate you on having achieved ‘Spenser.’ I hope I shall see the work. Let me confess to having never yet read one quarter of the ‘Faery Queen: But you are a much more literary nation than we. Few people, I fear, will return in England to the study of Plutarch’s Lives, and in working to the end of that attempt I can only look forward to the readers of America. I hope it will be pretty tolerably readable and correct when it does at last present itself. Certainly, if I had tried to translate it myself, it would have had a more Greek tone; but I don’t think we any of us write so idiomatically now as my friends of Charles II’s time.
You see that we, that is our newspapers, after considerable bluster, mean decidedly to back out of any quarrelling with you. The ‘Times,’ I think, decidedly feels that it took a wrong step, and is walking out of its front position with all possible celerity.
I hear you have undertaken the kind labour of putting my ‘Reliquiæ’ through the press. If you like to add epigraphs on fly-leaves, you might put before ‘The Bothie:’
|Pauperis et tuguri congestum cespite culmen;|
|Ite, meæ, felix quondam pecus, ite camenæ;|
and before the Roman verses—
Quadrigis petimus bene vivere.
I am examining among others for appointments in the Engineers and Artillery, which are open to general competition, and the candidates examined inter alia in English composition, literature, and history. Hence, I can more than pay my income tax, and, like the farmers, rejoice in the war. But at present we all more than half expect peace. Louis Napoleon is said to be pacific. For many good reasons I also am pacific; for if the war went on even two years longer, we should kill Turkey with our kindness, and have to encounter all the difficulties and disgrace of a partition of her. The sick man is really very sick after all, and doesn’t get at all better, but rather worse.
How is Cambridge? which Lowell reports so changed that he should not have known it. I still retain a dollar note, with the portraiture of the college buildings, flanked by the faces of Judge Story and some other eminence; but all this, I suppose, eminences included, will have become obsolete by this time.
Here there is nothing very new, nor anything particularly true, to tell. Until the next French revolution all things will continue. Meantime, omnes omnia mala dicere, we anticipate no good. Charles Norton dines with us this evening, valedictorily.
I have been reading pretty nearly through Crabbe lately. Have you republished Crabbe? If not, you ought to do so. There is no one more purely English (in the Dutch manner), no one who better represents the general result through the country of the last century. His descriptions remind even me of things I used to see and hear of in my boyhood. And sometimes, though rarely, he has really the highest merit, e.g. Ruth, in the “Tales of the Hall.’
I have read with more pleasure than anything I have seen lately Kane’s ‘Arctic Explorations,’ which is certainly a wonderful story, and the book, moreover, very well got up at Philadelphia. I think I did see Kane at Boston in the spring before he started; I have a distinct image of his figure. The whole narrative is, I think, very characteristic of the difference between the English and the American-English habits of command and obedience.
The first volume of Plutarch is to appear next month. I think the later volumes are much better, or at least less open to criticism. The life of Pericles was wretchedly done in the Dryden, and ought to have been re-written. Plutarch’s best life is Antony, I think.
This town is hot, dusty, and of ill odour, and very different from Westmoreland, where we were together last.
If you have read the letters in the ‘Times,’ you will have noticed Indophilus, i.e. Sir Charles Trevelyan (who ought, in proper Greek, to call himself Philindus; Indophilus would be more properly ‘beloved of the Hindoos’). Leadenhall Street is full of the humane feeling, and would back up Lord Canning’s proclamation, and Mr. Grant’s Allahabad releases, with all its influence. It may be right, but it is not discreet; it is not possible yet to enforce clemency. They should have waited till Delhi had fallen, and Lucknow been relieved. So, at least, we think here. The Company, however, is sadly at a discount, and will have hard work to maintain any of its power. The War Department, I believe, is very hard upon it. Sir Robert Vivian, who commanded the Turkish Contingent, and who is one of the directors appointed by the Crown, spoke the other day of the outbreak at Meerut and Delhi as a thing that ought to have been put down at once. He believes there was no sort of general conspiracy on foot, and urges the irregular and utterly indiscreet way in which the regiments have mutinied, here and there, and at the worst chosen times and places. Neill commanded a brigade under him in the Crimea. He quite disapproved of Neill’s outrages on the caste feeling at Cawnpore. I confess I don’t. I think we may break down caste one way or other, and ally ourselves with the Sikhs and the Buddhists of Nepaul, &c., whose religions are reasonable and comparatively unceremonial.
I don’t believe Christianity can spread far in Asia unless it will allow men more than one wife, which isn’t likely yet, out of Utah. But I believe the old Brahmin touch-not-and-taste-not, and I-am-holier-than-thou-because-I-don’t-touch-and-taste, may be got rid of. As for Mahometanism, it is a crystallised theism, out of which no vegetation can come. I doubt its being good even for the central negro.
The ‘Atlantic Monthly,’ I hope, makes its way. I am glad to see it so national, so little characterised by any mercantile importations from our side. I have a great distaste to the prevalent professional literature of the metropolis, a fungoid vegetation springing up on the rotting remains of the giants of the old literary forest, whose honours are no more.
Things have been tolerably eventful over here of late, have they not? I confess myself a sort of admirer of Orsini, though I do not consider assassination good policy, and therefore consider it wrong.
A Tory government, meantime, is a strange dispensation to live under; happily it is only on sufferance. Lord Palmerston, we consider, fell chiefly through his appointment of Lord Clanricarde.
The days of the Company you will, of course, have felt to be numbered, on seeing Lord Ellenborough gazetted as President of the Board of Control.
Do you see that the Frenchman who translated the Canterbury Tales has found at Paris the original of the ‘Squire’s Tale,’ 30,000 lines? I wonder if it is like Spenser’s, in any respect.
The great literary success of the last twelve months has been Buckle’s ‘History of Civilisation.’ Really, it is wonderful what numbers of people have read this thick volume, and what a reputation its author has gained by it. High and low—and high quite as much as low—write in its praise. Are you Buckle-bewitched in Boston, or do you retain a sane mind?
I do not suppose that anybody finds much natural pleasure in my five-act epistolary tragicomedy, or comi-tragedy. I like Part III. rather better than its predecessors myself; but other people, I dare say, will not. I think it will have some merit in its conclusion; but to that also, I dare say, there will be no affirmation but my own. However, so it was, and no otherwise could be. So much for keeping poems nine years, instead of burning them at once.
Tennyson’s two unpublished Arthur poems gave me pleasure, and I am sorry they do not appear. Otherwise England seems as unpoetical as between Chaucer and Spenser.
Between the two Indian Bills, the Directors, it is thought, will escape for the present, and survive a little longer. I myself was not so absolutely unfavourable to the Ellenborough Bill as the English world in general. I desire much to see a franchise given to those who have served. That offered to the five towns is perhaps impracticable. My notion is to make a great Council of all who have served in certain offices, and give them the appointment of half the Executive Council. But our people hate all refinements of this sort.
Politics are almost at a dead lock with us. Palmerston cannot come back with his own party alone to back him. Lord John Russell has joined Milner Gibson, and has formed a sufficient body of opponents in the Liberal part of the House to make it impossible for Palmerston to get sufficient support there. So that for the present the Derby people stay, and are almost ashamed and indignant to stay, by the help of Lord John and his Manchester allies.
Pray read Hogg’s ‘Life of Shelley.’ It is a great pleasure to see Shelley really alive, and treading the vulgar earth—Hogg’s transparent absurdity being the only intervening impediment.
I am reading, too, Gladstone’s ‘Homer:’ it is very direct and plain-sailing, and in that respect is an agreeable contrast to German annotation. The working out of his theory about Danaans, Achæans, Argives, and Hellenes was to me satisfactory; but at the end he goes off all at once out of his depth into general ethnology. Gladstone’s uncompromising belief in Homer and the heroes, as real people, gives the book a solidity and substance which is acceptable. Carlyle said he read carefully Homer and the controversy some years ago, and was quite convinced that ‘Iliad’ and ‘Odyssey’ were written at different ages—the ‘Odyssey’ by one man, the ‘Iliad’ not; and he likes the ‘Odyssey’ best. He thinks anyone mad who holds the ‘Iliad’ and ‘Odyssey’ to be written by one man.
While I wrote, came a rumour, hot from a private secretary, that news had come from India that the proclamation had been stopped at the last moment, at the entreaty of Sir C. Campbell, Sir John Lawrence, Outram, and Mansfield, who went on their knees to Lord Canning, and besought him, in the name of England’s honour, no less than for the sake of present security. So that, if this be true, Lord Ellenborough is right after all.
The M.P.s meet to-night for their great decision. Already, perhaps, the new evidence of the government despatches is in their hands. A proclamation, it is clear, has been issued, and an altered proclamation. A private letter tells us that the Ministry may possibly have a majority of five or six—a different story from that which prevailed when I began this letter.
Wednesday, the day of our coming here, intervened, with the absorbing interests of the Derby. To be winner of the Derby while in office as Prime Minister, was, it is said, Lord Derby’s ambition, but would be, it was thought, too high a felicity for any simply human Earl. Toxophilite’s defeat may, it is presumed, be the inevitable sacrifice that may avert the parliamentary catastrophe.
I cannot help wishing to preserve some Corporate Body or Privy Council for India, to elect half the Ministers’ Council, though I have no liking for the constituency of 7,000 or 8,000 to whom Lord Stanley did propose to give this power.
Last night I heard Tennyson read a third Arthur poem: the detection of Guenevere and the last interview with Arthur. These poems all appear to me to be maturer and better than any he has written hitherto.
As for wars and rumours of wars, I trust we need not alarm ourselves at present. I hope the French are at heart pacific; they cannot well afford the money for a war, and though I believe they might inflict, if the chances favoured them, immense damage upon us, in the end they would find themselves the weaker vessels. Their population, it is said by the statistical authorities, is decreasing, and they ought to nurse their vitality carefully. It has not yet recovered the losses of the wars of 1812-15.
In a commercial point of view, the publication of the ‘Amours’ has been a great event to me. This is the first money I ever received for verse-making, and it is really a very handsome sum.
A perversion, as the Anglican people call it, seems to me a very sad thing; it is, according to all experience, so irrevocable a change. I have known one or two instances of a return out of the Babylonish Captivity, but they seem rarely to happen.
The only remarkable phenomenon of the time is a continuous one; viz. the comet, which is a really wonderful, portentous-looking, historical sort of comet, with a tail sweeping a considerable space in the northern skies. It sets at 9 P.M., but leaves its streamer behind it for some time.
Another continuous study with me is Barth’s ‘Africa,’ which is really worth reading, laborious though it be, and needlessly filled up with daily records. Barth is, I believe, gone back to Hamburg, his native place; a little disappointed, perhaps, with finding so little come of his long toil. Livingstone published just after him, and took the wind out of his sails. Yet there is more permanently valuable and curious information in Barth, though Livingstone will do more himself in a practical way, we will hope.
There is as yet but a very slight ripple on the face of our political waters. The interest taken in these matters by the nation seems to grow less and less. People will not mind if the other party come in, but they don’t want Lord Palmerston again; and if these men don’t play the fool in some way, they may stay in. Your matters are more serious.
India, I suppose, will keep us at the military boiling point for some time to come (more’s the pity, perhaps, if only France were safely pacific!) and improvements in organisation will slowly creep in: they are certainly much wanted. In the medical department a good deal has been effected this year.
I am greatly ashamed of our English proceedings in this France-bullying-Portugal case. So far as I can see, it has been sheer timidity; terror of being taken undefended while India is still unsettled, and ought to disgrace us in the eyes of all European nations. But there may be diplomatic explanations proving France in the technical right.
Bright and his speech at Birmingham deserve notice. But I doubt whether he can rouse the towns; and people in general, i.e. the people who are more or less represented, care little about it. I believe that a Reform would give us a better and more rational House of Commons; but many things press. Reform takes up so much time, and gives so much trouble; how is the Government to be carried on meantime, the government of India included?
Bright’s agitation will bear fruits. The Ministerial Bill would have been very different without this. Bright is scoffed at in the metropolitan papers, and at all clubs. But his hold on the country is such as no M.P. whatever, except himself, possesses; and in the main, the course he has taken is right, I think. Lord Stanley seems to be a present guarantee for the tolerable government of India; but he, of course, may go any day. I wish the Council were on a surer basis: the self-electing plan can hardly be permanent.
People are a little agog about the Bible-in-India question. Old Indians seem to be pretty tolerably unanimous against having it read in the schools.
Excuse this letter all about my own concerns. I am pretty busy, and have time for little else; such is our fate after forty. My figure forty stands nearly three months behind me on the roadway, unwept, unhonoured, and unsung; an octavum lustrum bound up and laid on the shelf. ‘So-and-so is dead,’ said a friend to Lord Melbourne, of some author. ‘Dear me, how glad I am! Now I can bind him up.’
Here is a jest of Lord Derby’s to a friend who told him he was in a great mess. ‘Yes,’ replied he, ‘but Benjamin’s mess is five times greater than than those of his brethren.’
We have been having deaths lately for our news, as for example that of William Arnold, who, after lying ill for some time at Cairo, started and sailed from Alexandria just as one of his brothers was coming in to see him; just set his foot on Europe, and died, at St. Roque, a few miles from Gibraltar; a great loss, I think, public and private.
Here is the dictum of the Due de Malakhoff: ‘Nous les battrons, nous leur offrirons des conditions bien douces. Its les refuseront. Puis, nous les battrons encore, et nous leur offrirons des conditions bien dures. Its les accepteront.’ Meantime, the French feeling has become, it appears, universally warlike; and the wise people think that the dynasty, which must have fallen otherwise, will, unless the Austrians drive all before them, be secured.
I have never thanked you for your article on Sleeman’s ‘Oude,’ which came safely to hand, and which I fear is only too favourable to British rule. Let us, however, hope for the best, though the climate is so sadly against any fair development of English qualities, and the war has left behind it a fierce and insulting spirit.
Disraeli, in answer to some friendly regrets at his fall, said it could only be a check for a time. But I think Palmerston may regain the general confidence of the country, as he has in a great measure of the Liberal members, or at any rate the Liberal statesmen, and may perhaps maintain himself, even if Lord John secede. The new Ministry will be strongly Italian in composition; Lord John and Gladstone in addition to Palmerston. It is almost to be feared that they will outrun the national feeling, and go too much in the track of Louis Napoleon. We who live nearer to Louis Napoleon, with only the Channel, and not the whole Atlantic to divide and protect us from him, do not feel quite the same liberty to indulge the natural feelings of enthusiasm in witnessing his aggrandisement in Europe, though it be merely as a liberator that he effects it at present. One thing I devoutly hope; that, with French influence predominating in Italy, the Pope will go to the dogs, with all his canaille accompanying. Evidently the conclave fear this, and there is no doubt at all that instructions came from Rome to the Roman Catholic leaders that they should support Lord Derby, who would support Austria. It has not been uniformly obeyed, but that the order was issued is, I believe, certain.
Here we are reading the last bulletin of that wonderful melodramatic genius Napoleon III., of which what can be said? ‘L’Empire, c’est la paix?’ Certainly one did not desire the enfranchisement of Italy to be effected by his means; and one may hope, also, that the general result will be to damage him and his dynasty.
Mill’s ‘Dissertations’ and Tennyson’s ‘Idylls of the King’ are also before an admiring public. I certainly think these Idylls are the best thing that Tennyson has done.
We are having a burning July, and the length of our day makes it in some respects worse than it would be in a more southern latitude. But, after all, 90° in the shade was not, I think, what we endured when I lived with you at Shady Hill, six years ago. You should come here again soon, and we will try and sweeten the Thames for you ‘during the current year.’
I think Louis Napoleon less formidable since the Italian war, unless the army prove to have tasted blood and to be greedy for more, in which case of course he must let them have it. But I don’t much believe in the love of the French soldier for war; he wants to go to his pays again.
Dana has sent his book on Cuba, which is very pleasant reading. And is he really gone off again to circumnavigate the orbis veteribus notus? I have always felt an instinctive desire to go round, and have coveted the sensation of having ascertained the fact by one’s own bodily locomotion.
The French Emperor’s ‘allocution’ to the Cardinal at Bordeaux is a slight improvement on his doings lately; perhaps a feeler to the country, for if he were not afraid of the popular adherence to the Pope and clergy in France, I suppose he would certainly take the holy father by the temporal beard in Bologna.
I was glad to have your account of Brown. His behaviour before his death struck me quite in the way in which you regard it: nothing could be plainer, and more composed and upright.
Here my chief discovery has been a cottage improvement society, so successful as to pay yearly dividends of 6 per cent. The working man is my doctor—Dr. Greenhill—who is secretary. Most of these societies have been quite failures as regards finance. The principles here are (1) Repairing, not building; (2) Rigorous collection of rents. There is a benevolent society attached to the cottage society, but it acts quite separately. Rent is rent, and charity, charity.
When is Rowse coming over? Will you give him a letter to me? I continue to think his picture of Emerson the best portrait I know of anyone I know.
How unsatisfactory the world in general is just now! The French having made a ‘belle guerre’ for an idea, are now bent on realising their ideas. The Pope, after all, won’t be sent a-begging. Austria will yet bully Hungary with the help of her big brother further east, and the big brother, with the help of the smaller one, will have his own bad way in Turkey, probably.
To break one’s toe is no fair reason against using one’s fingers, but it prevents one’s walking, and impairs one’s energies in general. Rowse has done me very nearly. You will, I hope, have a photograph, and I hope he won’t spoil it before he finishes. He has done Owen, and seems well pleased with his work, but is sadly afflicted with Heimweh.
Shall you see that Oxford traveller, the Prince of Wales? He is my grand-pupil. His Oxford tutor was my pupil. We are lingering on here sadly, waiting for the end of Parliament, and having no summer. People talk of a grand fusion of the Conservative and Liberal-Conservative parties, modern Tories and modern Whigs making one solid national defence against Bright and the Radicals. Things tend a good deal that way, but unless Bright and the Radicals become formidable indeed, personal jealousies will keep the aristocratic parties in a state of separation. They have, however, acted together this session, and have succeeded in staving off Parliamentary Reform, and in some other things. The future is quite obscure. I don’t think, however, that any Ministry will venture on an unliberal foreign policy, though there may be some quiet rapprochement to the Germans, Austrians even included. The nation generally holds, I think, to alliance with the French in general, and to support of Italy with or without the French.
Rowse went off yesterday for Southampton. His picture of Owen is very good; that of me is less successful. He was interrupted in the midst of it, was delayed by sore eyes, and then had to go to Owen; but still it is a very good likeness.
We are staying here with Sir John MacNeill, the Crimean Commissioner and sometime Envoy in Persia; he has the charge of the administration of the Poor Laws in Scotland. The Highland population is passing through the stage of decrease. Emigration has been going on pretty actively since the famine of 1846 and 1847, and Iona, for example, which had 500, has now 250 inhabitants. The emigrants send back money to bring out their friends, and this will continue: Sir John MacNeill, however, who has had a great deal to do with it, expects that the population will recover when the new methods of cultivating (or using) the soil are established. Such has been the case in many formerly Highland and now really Lowland places.
I am glad to hear of Rowse’s restoration to life and happiness in his native land.
Louis Napoleon is said to be very cross, having offered his company at Warsaw, and had it declined; however, if he is cross that way, all the better. But why does he keep his paw on the patrimony of St. Peter, and exclude the lawful heir, Victor Emmanuel? The popular feeling in France is said to be very strong for Garibaldi, but there is some considerable jealousy in the army, where Lamoricière’s disgrace touches professional vanity, and where Garibaldi is, I suppose, not acceptable in himself.
Was not the Duke of Newcastle quite wrong to take our young Prince to Richmond, where it is well known there is a blackguard population? They say here it is his fault. However, it is no great harm, specially as it happened in a proud slave state. Just now you will be thinking about Presidents, not Princes; eight years ago, I think, you were busy electing Pierce, and I was just starting per Canada to visit you.
I am glad to hear you speak so hopefully of your future; much, however, will I suppose in any case depend on the good sense and character of your new President and his advisers. I for my part should suppose that an attempt to retake the federal forts would be unwise. You are strong enough not to need it.
Emerson’s new essays were to me quite as good as, if not better than, any former volume. The reviews are no great index of public interest unless you collect a good number. There are now so many local reviews, and people with us depend so very little on Athenæums and Literary Gazettes, or even Saturday Reviews. An article in the ‘Times’ is the really important thing for a book to get with a view to sale, but even that proves little as to people’s interest. There is a vast deal of anti-mysticism, and of a dense, supercilious, narrow-minded common sense, which of course speaks pretty loudly.
bay stretching towards Corinth on the left, Salamis hiding all the coast left of Athens, and all very bright and sunny. We landed in Piræus about twelve, and came on shore in a boat and up here in a vettura. I’m two pairs up, looking towards the Acropolis.
The weather has become perfectly fine, the sun hot, but a fresh breeze blowing. In a fortnight, they say, all will be brown. Just now the land is green with barley, into which they turn the horses, partly cutting it, partly leaving them to feed on as it stands, only shackling them.
This place is very pleasant to stay at, in the lounging way. I walked to Colonus and the Academy, about a mile and a half away, going north-east towards the Cephissus and the ‘Olive Grove.’ You are let into a farm-house garden, with all sorts of fruits and vegetables, quince-trees, pomegranate-trees, orange-trees, &c.; and here also are a few remains. I suppose the trees have never grown well up again since Sylla cut them down.3 There are a few old olives, and about the farm newer trees, planes chiefly. Then you cross a bare field to the bare hill or mound of Colonus, where are two marble monuments to Ottfried Müller and to Lenormant. The view of the Acropolis is very good.
In the evening I rambled about, along the Ilissus, picked some maiden-hair from the rocks over the springs of Calirrhoë, where we found women washing and donkeys drinking, and so through some beer and wine gardens along the water-side to the Stadium, a great hollow in the hill-side where the foot-races were.
To-day Mr. Finlay called, and took me to the University Library, and to the βουλευτηριον, where the βουλη;, were sitting, and apparently at work. There are fifty βουλευται. Also we saw the Chamber, who seemed wholly idle. Thence to the new Cathedral, not yet finished, and very gorgeous (for so small a place) inside; thence to his house, where the visit ended by some Scotch marmalade, of which one takes a spoonful and a glass of water.
At the library I saw a new Greek translation of Plutarch, and of Homer, in verse. I also saw Mr. Finlay’s Attic coins, from the στατηρ to the lowest.
On Thursday I went up Pentelicus; left this at eight, got up by twelve. The view was clouded to the west and north-west, but Eubœa and the Euripus and Marathon lay like a map below, also South Attica, with Andros, Tenos, Ceos, and over Eubœa, less distinct, Scyros. The upper slopes of the mountain are clad with arbutus chiefly, just going out of flower. There are marble quarries for a great part of the way up, and one with a great grotto or cave richly adorned with the common English maiden-hair, and with a little of the true Capillus veneris.
Coming down I stopped to lunch beside the monastery of the Pan-agia; bread and cheese and oranges, by a beautiful gushing water in a sort of cup out of a wall, tall white poplars overhead, olives, and also large dwarf oaks (fifteen feet high or more), the first I have seen. I looked into the monastery court, in the middle of which is a huge bay-tree. Mr. Psyllis, a Greek gentleman, a senator, whom Mr. Finlay, had introduced me to, happened to be there; he was spending his holiday there with some of his family, so he talked to me, and presently gave me coffee, which Miss Victoria, his daughter, presented on a tray to us, retiring after so doing. Then he took me up a little outside staircase to a little set of rooms, and presented me to his relation, the abbot or ηγουμενος, Cyrillus Δελγεριος, a fine-looking elderly man, who lives there in two small rooms; one a sort of reception room where sometimes the king and queen come, and therefore adorned with their pictures (two common engravings); the other his bedroom and sitting-room, where he had a little wood fire. He also asked me to take coffee, so presently his domestic made it at this fire, and presented it, with that well-known Turkish sweetmeat, but made at Syra, and much nicer, and with a glass of water. You take first sweetmeat; secondly, coffee; thirdly, water. The monastery is very rich.
Last night (May 3rd) was a great night. The people at eight crowd to the churches. In every church a bier is laid out with a great cloth over it, and a figure or representation (sometimes a little embroidered map) of the crucifixion. The people all come in (in the chief church between files of soldiers) and kiss the figure, and then perhaps go out. About half-past nine the priests take up the bier and carry it out, and the people follow after with lighted candles (stéariques), and go all about the streets. The chief procession had a band of military music at the head, and lots of soldiers, then some banners and crosses, and then, a little way behind, the priests and the bier. All the streets are filled with the people carrying lighted stéariques, and blue and red lights were let off.
To-day is pretty quiet, only they are still buying lambs, which are all to be killed, poor things, this evening.
In the afternoon I went up to the Parthenon; the effect of interval and depth in the columniation is far greater than in any picture or imitation; then out on a road towards Phalerum with very good views of the Parthenon. Coming back I met the lambskins on the backs of skin-collectors, and hanging at doors, in the byeways by the Lantern of Demosthenes.
I was tired and a little out of sorts at night, and so did not sit up to see the hullabaloo at 12 P.M., when the king and queen, after attending divine service, come out upon a platform and show themselves, in honour of the great event, and in token that ο χριστος ανεστη. This morning I was disturbed by worse than heathen Greeks howling away under my window in a yard, and looking forth beheld four paschal lambs over the embers, stuck through with poles, and the heathen turning them, and singing strange words, among which I thought I could occasionally detect ‘Yesous.’
I and two other gentlemen have agreed to go to Nauplia by steamer on the 12th, and to ride thence to Corinth, returning by steamer from the Isthmus on the 15th. The weather is now beautiful, and seems to promise favourably. New snow seems to have fallen on some of the hills near the Isthmus. We are to go with Spiro Adamopulos, a well-known trustworthy guide.
Pray can you guess what a φεσοπωλειον is, or a καπνοπωλειον, or finally, a πνευματοπωλειον? There are a great many in Athens, but there are even more καφφανεια. You know of course a υποδηματαποιος, but what is a ραπτης I and should you know an omnibus as a λεωφορειον?
The steamer only left Piræus at 3 P.M. on Friday. We passed under Cape Colonna, and saw the temple very well about 5.30 P.M.; passed then through the strait between the southern point of Eubœa and the northern point of Andros: the forner is known as Capo d’Oro, i.e. Caphareus, where Minerva drowned Ajax the Lesser. Night fell as we left Eubœa; and when I came on deck at 6.30 A.M. yesterday, we had Lesbos, a long range of mountains, on the immediate right; and the coast of Asia, south of the Troad, on the right bow. An aged modern Greek pointed out to me a small thing on the horizon, almost straight ahead, a little to the left of our course, which he said was Ténetho, ‘bello paese, buono wino, buon’ e forte.’ Some little after we passed it, and several French savans began to quote, ‘Est in conspectu,’ rather reminding one of ‘As in præsenti.’ We went in between Tenedos or Tenetho (a desert-looking island still, but with one little corner occupied by a little town, with a fort and three minarets) and the Troad, and at this crisis were summoned to breakfast, but recovered (most of us) the deck in time to see the actual plain of Troy, and the entrance of the Dardanelles. There should have appeared three tumuli at the turn, but I could not well make them out. The embouchure of the Simois, just above the town, lets you look up into the plain, backed, many miles off, by Mount Ida.
And so up the Dardanelles, which were crowded with vessels taking advantage of the south wind, and so to Dardanelles (the Turkish town so called), where we stop, to obtain permission to go on. Here are the castles and the consuls, and H.M.S. ‘Melpomene,’ having just, as I now learn, brought Lord Dufferin from Beyrout; and one hears that the Sultan is very ill and likely to die, which on arriving here one learns is all a lie. Then past Sestos and Abydos, and the strait gradually widens till at Gallipoli, where the French and English armies encamped, it opens into the Sea of Marmora. Lampsacus is on the right, a little before Gallipoli on the left. Ægospotami I couldn’t quite make out. The Sea of Marmora, also, was full of shipping, most in full sail for Constantinople, some also beating down, outward bound.
The Seraglio was a good deal below one’s expectations; St. Sophia certainly beyond mine. The amplitude of the dome is very impressive; it is a sort of Pantheon exalted into a Monotheon. Michael Angelo ought to have seen it.
How many times in the course of the day’s work we had to pull off boots and shoes and put on slippers, I can’t dare to say. The weather is still unsettled. The Bithynian Olympus is one long range of snow-covered Alp. Till yesterday we had a fire in the sitting-room, and yesterday we missed it. I have found great solace from a terrace on the roof, which gives a tolerable view of the Strait, and the Seraglio point, and Scutari, and the hills across the end of the Sea of Marmora, and the snowy Olympus overtopping them.
I dined yesterday with Dr. Beretta, who is a most amiable kind man, but first I went with him to see Elizabeth Kondaxaky, the Cretan sibyl, who prophesies, fortunately in English, as well as Greek, and other tongues, whereof she has the gift. I have not exactly summed up the result of her prophecies, but she seems to be for England and Turkey—the latter as ‘a necessary evil,’ and the former as the natural protector of necessary evils.
Then I left my companions and went back to the hotel, and then over to Scutari with Dr. Pincoff, and saw all Scutari, Barrack and General Hospitals, and F. N’s own tower, and rooms, and everything, of which you shall hear when I return.
We went by steamer up the Bosphorus, to Buyukdere, and up a hill to see the Black Sea.
As for the feeling here, you must always expect statesmen to be cold in their language, and the newspapers impertinent and often brutal. Beyond this, I think people here had been led to suppose at the outset that the Northern feeling was strong against civil war (and so it was I suppose), and that the principle of separation was conceded; the indignation being merely at the mode adopted for obtaining it. And the attack on Fort Sumter, which caused so sudden a revulsion of feeling with you, was naturally attended with no such change here. But coexisting with all this, I believe there is a great amount of strong feeling in favour of the North.
Technically we are wrong, I suppose, and as a matter of feeling, we are guilty of an outrage in recognising the South as a belligerent power, but as a matter of convenience between your Government and ours, I suppose the thing is best as it is.
Miss H. will take to Emerson four photographs of Rowse’s picture of me; one for you: it may be better than nothing.
My nervous energy is pretty well spent for to-day, so I must come to a stop. I have leave till November, and by that time I hope I shall be strong again for another good spell of work.
Lord Campbell’s death is rather the characteristic death of the English political man. In the cabinet, on the bench, and at a dinner party, busy, animated, and full of effort to-day, and in the early morning a vessel has burst. It is a wonder they last so long. I shall resign if it proves much of a strain to me to go on at this official work. Farewell.
The journey here in the diligence was agreeable, right over the chain of hills, of which Puy de Dome is the highest, from the valley of the Allier (flowing to the Loire) to the valley here flowing to the Gironde. We mounted to about 3,300 or 3,400 feet above the sea, and descended 300 or 400 to this place; the high land was a green pastoral district with rounded hills mostly; no very distinct craters on the route; a lake a little way off was one, I suppose.
This is really an odd enough place to be in; déjeuner at ten, dinner at half-past five; two tables of about twenty-five people, all French; we also have a drawing-room where we meet before meals, and sit generally (only I don’t); gentlemen unbeknown to ladies give their arms to ladies aforesaid, to conduct them into dinner, and occasionally out from dinner. I sit near some pleasant people at dinner, a Parisian of the Parisians on one hand, and a Marseilles opulent-seeming seeming-merchant with a wife, a sister and some children, on the other. Last night, from eight to half past nine, was a soirée magicale, things coming out of hats, &c., followed by a divertissement of a poet and improvisatore, who did bout-rimer. The company supplied him for his last épreuve with about fourteen or sixteen words, rhymes masculine and feminine, mitraille, canaille, volcan, encan, ending with baigneur and bonheur, which gave him the opportunity (the subject by the way being also given him after the rhymes, viz., vin de champagne) to wish in conclusion to chaque aimable baigneur I don’t know how much bonheur, which of course drew the house. The poet’s face was a great round simple-looking piece of countenance, and he was fat but alert, and knew more tricks than one, I dare say.
The Tennysons are at Bigorre. I am very glad to have the prospect of joining them, for it is rather too solitary work going about Pyreneeing with a horse and a guide, or even to say two horses and a guide. However, the two men I have had here have been good company in their way—two cousins, both having served as soldiers, one six years, the other eight or nine. One was in the Crimea, and all through the campaign in Italy, and means to be a soldier again. He had just finished his time when his brother was drawn in the conscription. His brother had just married, so he said he would serve two years for him, and when the two years were ended and he came home, somehow or other the brother was let off. Eighteen went from Luchon to the Crimea, ten or twelve of them cousins; thirteen came back, and they are, I think, all here as baigneurs, guides, &c. This fine young fellow was a hussar, and went out straight to Algiers, where he set to work and ate so many figs and oranges that he had a fever at once, and was in the hospital for three months. He was wounded just at the end of the Crimean war, a fortnight before the peace, and was in hospital at Constantinople for three months. He made great friends with the English, apparently. So much for Pierre Redonnet, with whom I rode on Tuesday over Super Bagnères to the Vallée de Lys. The day before I had his cousin Jean, who is a family man, and unambitious of military service.
I have seen here a certain Comte de ——, an Italian, a Tuscan, who knew some friends of yours at Rome. He is a Confederation man, and declaims against this premature attempt at a united Italy. I met him at the Lac d’Oo. He has just been here, and all but embraced me in his obscurantist arms, and has bidden me adieu, ‘God bless you.’ He talks English, which he mixes a little with German, and I mix my English with a little Italian. Who can he be? and why has he so nearly embraced me?
Luchon is a very Parisian place; people flaunt about, and wear strange Parisian mountain-costumes, ‘tours-de-tête’ of all kinds. The French upper classes seem to me to be strongly possessed with the feeling that the Italian kingdom is very much against French interests; and partly also with the feeling that the Emperor is driven into it by England, who knows it to be bad for France. Sardinia would pacify them, no doubt. But after Ricasoli’s declaration, can he, and after Lord John’s speech, can he, assent? All things perhaps are possible.
I did one new thing yesterday, and went up the Pic des Bergons, whence there is really a fine view of Pic du Midi on the one hand, and Mont Perdu and Brèche de Roland on the other. I send you another Pyrenean fragment
|She fed her cows, the mountain-peaks between.7|
Tennyson and —— have walked on to Cauterets, and I and the family follow in a calèche at two.
|1. ‘The family’ was his eldest daughter Florence. [back]|