Life of Harriet Beecher Stowe Chapter IX: Sunny Memories, 1853.
by Harriet Beecher Stowe
The journey undertaken by Mrs. Stowe with her husband and brother
through England and Scotland, and afterwards with her brother alone
over much of the Continent, was one of unusual interest. No one was
more surprised than Mrs. Stowe herself by the demonstrations of
respect and affection that everywhere greeted her.
Fortunately an unbroken record of this memorable journey, in Mrs.
Stowe's own words, has been preserved, and we are thus able to receive
her own impressions of what she saw, heard, and did, under
circumstances that were at once pleasant, novel, and embarrassing.
Beginning with her voyage, she writes as follows:--
LIVERPOOL, April 11,1853.
MY DEAR CHILDREN,--You wish, first of all, to hear of the voyage. Let
me assure you, my dears, in the very commencement of the matter, that
going to sea is not at all the thing that we have taken it to be. Let
me warn you, if you ever go to sea, to omit all preparations for
amusement on shipboard. Don't leave so much as the unlocking of a
trunk to be done after sailing. In the few precious minutes when the
ship stands still, before she weighs her anchor, set your house, that
is to say your stateroom, as much in order as if you were going to be
hanged; place everything in the most convenient position to be seized
without trouble at a moment's notice; for be sure that in half an hour
after sailing, an infinite desperation will seize you, in which the
grasshopper will be a burden. If anything is in your trunk, it might
almost as well be in the sea, for any practical probability of your
getting to it.
Our voyage out was called "a good run." It was voted unanimously to be
"an extraordinary good passage," "a pleasant voyage;" yet the ship
rocked the whole time from side to side with a steady, dizzy,
continuous motion, like a great cradle. I had a new sympathy for
babies, poor little things, who are rocked hours at a time without so
much as a "by your leave" in the case. No wonder there are so many
stupid people in the world!
We arrived on Sunday morning: the custom-house officers, very
gentlemanly men, came on board; our luggage was all set out, and
passed through a rapid examination, which in many cases amounted only
to opening the trunk and shutting it, and all was over. The whole
ceremony did not occupy two hours.
We were inquiring of some friends for the most convenient hotel, when
we found the son of Mr. Cropper, of Dingle Bank, waiting in the cabin
to take us with him to their hospitable abode. In a few moments after
the baggage had been examined, we all bade adieu to the old ship, and
went on board the little steam tender which carries passengers up to
This Mersey River would be a very beautiful one, if it were not so
dingy and muddy. As we are sailing up in the tender towards Liverpool,
I deplore the circumstance feelingly.
"What does make this river so muddy?"
"Oh," says a by-stander, "don't you know that
"'The quality of mercy is not strained'?"
I had an early opportunity of making acquaintance with my English
brethren; for, much to my astonishment, I found quite a crowd on the
wharf, and we walked up to our carriage through a long lane of people,
bowing, and looking very glad to see us.
When I came to get into the hack it was surrounded by more faces than
I could count. They stood very quietly, and looked very kindly, though
evidently very much determined to look. Something prevented the hack
from moving on; so the interview was prolonged for some time.
Our carriage at last drove on, taking us through Liverpool and a mile
or two out, and at length wound its way along the gravel paths of a
beautiful little retreat, on the banks of the Mersey, called the
"Dingle." It opened to my eyes like a paradise, all wearied as I was
with the tossing of the sea. I have since become familiar with these
beautiful little spots, which are so common in England; but now all
was entirely new to me.
After a short season allotted to changing our ship garments and for
rest, we found ourselves seated at the dinner table. While dining, the
sister-in-law of our friends came in from the next door, to exchange a
word or two of welcome, and invite us to breakfast with them the
The next morning we slept late and hurried to dress, remembering our
engagement to breakfast with the brother of our host, whose cottage
stands on the same ground, within a few steps of our own. I had not
the slightest idea of what the English mean by a breakfast, and
therefore went in all innocence, supposing I should see nobody but the
family circle of my acquaintances. Quite to my astonishment, I found a
party of between thirty and forty people; ladies sitting with their
bonnets on, as in a morning call. It was impossible, however, to feel
more than a momentary embarrassment in the friendly warmth and
cordiality of the circle by whom we were surrounded.
In the evening I went into Liverpool to attend a party of friends of
the anti-slavery cause. When I was going away, the lady of the house
said that the servants were anxious to see me; so I came into the
dressing-room to give them an opportunity.
The next day was appointed to leave Liverpool. A great number of
friends accompanied us to the cars, and a beautiful bouquet of flowers
was sent with a very affecting message from a sick gentleman, who,
from the retirement of his chamber, felt a desire to testify his
sympathy. We left Liverpool with hearts a little tremulous and excited
by the vibration of an atmosphere of universal sympathy and kindness,
and found ourselves, at length, shut from the warm adieu of our
friends, in a snug compartment of the railroad car.
"Dear me!" said Mr. S.; "six Yankees shut up in a car together! Not
one Englishman to tell us anything about the country! Just like the
six old ladies that made their living by taking tea at each other's
What a bright lookout we kept for ruins and old houses! Mr. S., whose
eyes are always in every place, allowed none of us to slumber, but
looking out, first on his own side and then on ours, called our
attention to every visible thing. If he had been appointed on a
mission of inquiry, he could not have been more zealous and faithful,
and I began to think that our desire for an English cicerone was quite
Well, we are in Scotland at last, and now our pulse rises as the sun
declines in the west. We catch glimpses of Solway Frith and talk about
Redgauntlet. The sun went down and night drew on; still we were in
Scotland. Scotch ballads, Scotch tunes, and Scotch literature were in
the ascendant. We sang "Auld Lang Syne," "Scots wha hae," and "Bonnie
Doon," and then, changing the key, sang "Dundee," "Elgin," and
"Take care," said Mr. S.; "don't get too much excited."
"Ah," said I, "this is a thing that comes only once in a lifetime; do
let us have the comfort of it. We shall never come into Scotland for
the first time again."
While we were thus at the fusion point of enthusiasm, the cars stopped
at Lockerbie. All was dim and dark outside, but we soon became
conscious that there was quite a number of people collected, peering
into the window; and with a strange kind of thrill, I heard my name
inquired for in the Scottish accent. I went to the window; there were
men, women, and children gathered, and hand after hand was presented,
with the words, "Ye're welcome to Scotland!"
Then they inquired for and shook hands with all the party, having in
some mysterious manner got the knowledge of who they were, even down
to little G., whom they took to be my son. Was it not pleasant, when I
had a heart so warm for this old country? I shall never forget the
thrill of those words, "Ye're welcome to Scotland," nor the "Gude
After that we found similar welcomes in many succeeding stopping-
places; and though I did wave a towel out of the window, instead of a
pocket handkerchief, and commit other awkwardnesses, from not knowing
how to play my part, yet I fancied, after all, that Scotland and we
were coming on well together. Who the good souls were that were thus
watching for us through the night, I am sure I do not know; but that
they were of the "one blood" which unites all the families of the
earth, I felt.
At Glasgow, friends were waiting in the station-house. Earnest, eager,
friendly faces, ever so many. Warm greetings, kindly words. A crowd
parting in the middle, through which we were conducted into a
carriage, and loud cheers of welcome, sent a throb, as the voice of
I looked out of the carriage, as we drove on, and saw, by the light of
a lantern, Argyll Street. It was past twelve o'clock when I found
myself in a warm, cosy parlor, with friends whom I have ever since
been glad to remember. In a little time we were all safely housed in
our hospitable apartments, and sleep fell on me for the first time in
The next morning I awoke worn and weary, and scarce could the charms
of the social Scotch breakfast restore me.
Our friend and host was Mr. Bailie Paton. I believe that it is to his
suggestion in a public meeting that we owe the invitation which
brought us to Scotland.
After breakfast the visiting began. First, a friend of the family,
with three beautiful children, the youngest of whom was the bearer of
a handsomely bound album, containing a pressed collection of the sea-
mosses of the Scottish coast, very vivid and beautiful.
All this day is a confused dream to me of a dizzy and overwhelming
kind. So many letters that it took brother Charles from nine in the
morning till two in the afternoon to read and answer them in the
shortest manner; letters from all classes of people, high and low,
rich and poor, in all shades and styles of composition, poetry and
prose; some mere outbursts of feeling; some invitations; some advice
and suggestions; some requests and inquiries; some presenting books,
or flowers, or fruit.
Then came, in their turn, deputations from Paisley, Greenock, Dundee,
Aberdeen, Edinburgh, and Belfast in Ireland; calls of friendship,
invitations of all descriptions to go everywhere, and to see
everything, and to stay in so many places. One kind, venerable
minister, with his lovely daughter, offered me a retreat in his quiet
manse on the beautiful shores of the Clyde.
For all these kindnesses, what could I give in return? There was
scarce time for even a grateful thought on each. People have often
said to me that it must have been an exceeding bore. For my part, I
could not think of regarding it so. It only oppressed me with an
In the afternoon I rode out with the lord provost to see the
cathedral. The lord provost answers to the lord mayor in England. His
title and office in both countries continue only a year, except in
case of re-election.
As I saw the way to the cathedral blocked up by a throng of people who
had come out to see me, I could not help saying, "What went ye out for
to see? a reed shaken with the wind?" In fact I was so worn out that I
could hardly walk through the building. The next morning I was so ill
as to need a physician, unable to see any one that called, or to hear
any of the letters. I passed most of the day in bed, but in the
evening I had to get up, as I had engaged to drink tea with two
thousand people. Our kind friends, Dr. and Mrs. Wardlaw, came after
us, and Mr. S. and I went in the carriage with them. Our carriage
stopped at last at the place. I have a dim remembrance of a way being
made for us through a great crowd all round the house, and of going
with Mrs. Wardlaw up into a dressing-room where I met and shook hands
with many friendly people. Then we passed into a gallery, where a seat
was reserved for our party, directly in front of the audience. Our
friend Bailie Paton presided. Mrs. Wardlaw and I sat together, and
around us many friends, chiefly ministers of the different churches,
the ladies and gentlemen of the Glasgow Anti-Slavery Society and
others. I told you it was a tea-party; but the arrangements were
altogether different from any I had ever seen. There were narrow
tables stretched up and down the whole extent of the great hall, and
every person had an appointed seat. These tables were set out with
cups and saucers, cakes, biscuit, etc., and when the proper time came,
attendants passed along serving tea. The arrangements were so accurate
and methodical that the whole multitude actually took tea together,
without the least apparent inconvenience or disturbance.
There was a gentle, subdued murmur of conversation all over the house,
the sociable clinking of teacups and teaspoons, while the
entertainment was going on. It seemed to me such an odd idea, I could
not help wondering what sort of a teapot that must be in which all
this tea for two thousand people was made. Truly, as Hadji Baba says,
I think they must have had the "father of all the tea-kettles" to boil
it in. I could not help wondering if old mother Scotland had put two
thousand teaspoonfuls of tea for the company, and one for the teapot,
as is our good Yankee custom.
We had quite a sociable time up in our gallery. Our tea-table
stretched quite across, and we drank tea in sight of all the people.
By we, I mean a great number of ministers and their wives, and
ladies of the Anti-Slavery society, besides our party, and the friends
whom I have mentioned before. All seemed to be enjoying themselves.
After tea they sang a few verses of the seventy-second psalm in the
old Scotch version.
April 17. To-day a large party of us started on a small steamer
to go down the Clyde. It was a trip full of pleasure and incident. Now
we were shown the remains of old Cardross Castle, where it was said
Robert Bruce breathed his last. And now we came near the beautiful
grounds of Roseneath, a green, velvet-like peninsula, stretching out
into the widening waters.
Somewhere about here I was presented, by his own request, to a broad-
shouldered Scotch farmer, who stood some six feet two, and who paid me
the compliment to say that he had read my book, and that he would walk
sis miles to see me any day. Such a flattering evidence of
discriminating taste, of course, disposed my heart towards him; but
when I went up and put my hand into his great prairie of a palm, I was
as a grasshopper in my own eyes. I inquired who he was and was told he
was one of the Duke of Argyll's farmers. I thought to myself if all
the duke's farmers were of this pattern, that he might be able to
speak to the enemy in the gates to some purpose.
It was concluded after we left Roseneath that, instead of returning by
the boat, we should take carriage and ride home along the banks of the
river. In our carriage were Mr. S. and myself, Dr. Robson, and Lady
Anderson. About this time I commenced my first essay towards giving
titles, and made, as you may suppose, rather an odd piece of work of
it, generally saying "Mrs." first, and "Lady" afterwards, and then
begging pardon. Lady Anderson laughed and said she would give me a
general absolution. She is a truly genial, hearty Scotchwoman, and
seemed to enter happily into the spirit of the hour.
As we rode on, we found that the news of our coming had spread through
the village. People came and stood in their doors, beckoning, bowing,
smiling, and waving their handkerchiefs, and the carriage was several
times stopped by persons who came to offer flowers. I remember, in
particular, a group of young girls bringing to the carriage two of the
most beautiful children I ever saw, whose little hands literally
deluged us with flowers.
At the village of Helensburgh we stopped a little while to call upon
Mrs. Bell, the wife of Mr. Bell, the inventor of the steamboat. His
invention in this country was at about the same time as that of Fulton
in America. Mrs. Bell came to the carriage to speak to us. She is a
venerable woman, far advanced in years. They had prepared a lunch for
us, and quite a number of people had come together to meet us, but our
friends said there was not time for us to stop.
We rode through several villages after this, and met everywhere a warm
welcome. What pleased me was, that it was not mainly from the
literary, nor the rich, nor the great, but the plain, common people.
The butcher came out of his stall and the baker from his shop, the
miller dusty with flour, the blooming, comely young mother, with her
baby in her arms, all smiling and bowing, with that hearty,
intelligent, friendly look, as if they knew we should be glad to see
Once, while we stopped to change horses, I, for the sake of seeing
something more of the country, walked on. It seems the honest landlord
and his wife were greatly disappointed at this; however, they got into
the carriage and rode on to see me, and I shook hands with them with a
right good will.
We saw several of the clergymen, who came out to meet us; and I
remember stopping just to be introduced, one by one, to a most
delightful family, a gray-headed father and mother, with comely
brothers and fair sisters, all looking so kindly and homelike, that I
should have been glad to accept the invitation they gave me to their
This day has been a strange phenomenon to me. In the first place, I
have seen in all these villages how universally the people read. I
have seen how capable they are of a generous excitement and
enthusiasm, and how much may be done by a work of fiction so written
as to enlist those sympathies which are common to all classes.
Certainly a great deal may be effected in this way, if God gives to
any one the power, as I hope he will to many. The power of fictitious
writing, for good as well as evil, is a thing which ought most
seriously to be reflected on. No one can fail to see that in our day
it is becoming a very great agency.
We came home quite tired, as you may well suppose. You will not be
surprised that the next day I found myself more disposed to keep my
bed than go out.
Two days later: We bade farewell to Glasgow, overwhelmed with kindness
to the last, and only oppressed by the thought of how little that was
satisfactory we were able to give in return. Again we were in the
railroad car on our way to Edinburgh. A pleasant two hours' trip is
this from Glasgow to Edinburgh. When the cars stopped at Linlithgow
station, the name started us as out of a dream.
In Edinburgh the cars stopped amid a crowd of people who had assembled
to meet us. The lord provost met us at the door of the car, and
presented us to the magistracy of the city and the committees of the
Edinburgh Anti-Slavery Societies. The drab dresses and pure white
bonnets of many Friends were conspicuous among the dense moving crowd,
as white doves seen against a dark cloud. Mr. S. and myself, and our
future hostess, Mrs. Wigham, entered the carriage with the lord
provost, and away we drove, the crowd following with their shouts and
cheers. I was inexpressibly touched and affected by this. While we
were passing the monument of Scott, I felt an oppressive melancholy.
What a moment life seems in the presence of the noble dead! What a
momentary thing is art, in all its beauty! Where are all those great
souls that have created such an atmosphere of light about Edinburgh?
and how little a space was given them to live and enjoy!
We drove all over Edinburgh, up to the castle, to the university, to
Holyrood, to the hospitals, and through many of the principal streets,
amid shouts, and smiles, and greetings. Some boys amused me very much
by their pertinacious attempts to keep up with the carriage.
"Heck," says one of them, "that's her; see the courls!"
The various engravers who have amused themselves by diversifying my
face for the public having all, with great unanimity, agreed in giving
prominence to this point, I suppose the urchins thought they were on
safe ground there. I certainly think I answered one good purpose that
day, and that is of giving the much-oppressed and calumniated class
called boys an opportunity to develop all the noise that was in them,
--a thing for which I think they must bless me in their remembrances.
At last the carriage drove into a deep-graveled yard, and we alighted
at a porch covered with green ivy, and found ourselves once more at
You may spare your anxieties about me, for I do assure you that if I
were an old Sèvres china jar I could not have more careful handling
than I do. Everybody is considerate; a great deal to say when there
appears to be so much excitement. Everybody seems to understand how
good-for-nothing I am; and yet, with all this consideration, I have
been obliged to keep my room and bed for a good part of the time. Of
the multitudes who have called, I have seen scarcely any.
To-morrow evening is to be the great tea-party here. How in the world
I am ever to live through it I don't know.
The amount of letters we found waiting for us here in Edinburgh was,
if possible, more appalling than in Glasgow. Among those from persons
whom you would be interested in hearing of, I may mention a very kind
and beautiful one from the Duchess of Sutherland, and one also from
the Earl of Carlisle, both desiring to make appointments for meeting
us as soon as we come to London. Also a very kind and interesting note
from the Rev. Mr. Kingsley and lady. I look forward with a great deal
of interest to passing a little time with them in their rectory.
As to all engagements, I am in a state of happy acquiescence, having
resigned myself, as a very tame lion, into the hands of my keepers.
Whenever the time comes for me to do anything, I try to behave as well
as I can, which, as Dr. Young says, is all that an angel could do
under the same circumstances.
April 26. Last night came off the soiree. The hall was
handsomely decorated with flags in front. We went with the lord
provost in his carriage. We went up as before into a dressing-room,
where I was presented to many gentlemen and ladies. When we go in, the
cheering, clapping, and stamping at first strikes one with a strange
sensation; but then everybody looks so heartily pleased and delighted,
and there is such an all-pervading atmosphere of geniality and
sympathy, as makes me in a few moments feel quite at home. After all,
I consider that these cheers and applauses are Scotland's voice to
America, a recognition of the brotherhood of the countries.
The national penny offering, consisting of a thousand golden
sovereigns on a magnificent silver salver, stood conspicuously in view
of the audience. It has been an unsolicited offering, given in the
smallest sums, often from the extreme poverty of the giver. The
committee who collected it in Edinburgh and Glasgow bore witness to
the willingness with which the very poorest contributed the offering
of their sympathy. In one cottage they found a blind woman, and said,
"Here, at least, is one who will feel no interest, as she cannot have
read the book."
"Indeed," said the old lady, "if I cannot read, my son has read it to
me, and I've got my penny saved to give."
It is to my mind extremely touching to see how the poor, in their
poverty, can be moved to a generosity surpassing that of the rich. Nor
do I mourn that they took it from their slender store, because I know
that a penny given from a kindly impulse is a greater comfort and
blessing to the poorest giver than even a penny received.
As in the case of the other meeting, we came out long before the
speeches were ended. Well, of course I did not sleep all night, and
the next day I felt quite miserable.
>From Edinburgh we took cars for Aberdeen. I enjoyed this ride more
than anything we had seen yet, the country was so wild and singular.
In the afternoon we came in sight of the German Ocean. The free,
bracing air from the sea, and the thought that it actually was
the German Ocean, and that over the other side was Norway, within a
day's sail of us, gave it a strange, romantic charm. It was towards
the close of the afternoon that we found ourselves crossing the Dee,
in view of Aberdeen. My spirits were wonderfully elated: the grand
scenery and fine, bracing air; the noble, distant view of the city,
rising with its harbor and shipping,--all filled me with delight. In
this propitious state, disposed to be pleased with everything, our
hearts responded warmly to the greetings of the many friends who were
waiting for us at the station-house.
The lord provost received us into his carriage, and as we drove along
pointed out to us the various objects of interest in the beautiful
town. Among other things, a fine old bridge across the Dee attracted
our particular attention. We were conducted to the house of Mr.
Cruikshank, a Friend, and found waiting for us there the thoughtful
hospitality which we had ever experienced in all our stopping-places.
A snug little quiet supper was laid out upon the table, of which we
partook in haste, as we were informed that the assembly at the hall
were waiting to receive us.
There arrived, we found the hall crowded, and with difficulty made our
way to the platform. Whether owing to the stimulating effect of the
air from the ocean, or to the comparatively social aspect of the
scene, or perhaps to both, certain it is that we enjoyed the meeting
with great zest. I was surrounded on the stage with blooming young
ladies, one of whom put into my hands a beautiful bouquet, some
flowers of which I have now, dried, in my album. The refreshment
tables were adorned with some exquisite wax flowers, the work, as I
was afterwards told, of a young lady in the place. One of these
designs especially interested me. It was a group of water-lilies
resting on a mirror, which gave them the appearance of growing in the
We had some very animated speaking, in which the speakers contrived to
blend enthusiastic admiration and love for America with detestation of
They presented an offering in a beautiful embroidered purse, and after
much shaking of hands we went home, and sat down to the supper-table
for a little more chat before going to bed. The next morning--as we
had only till noon to stay in Aberdeen--our friends, the lord provost
and Mr. Leslie, the architect, came immediately after breakfast to
show us the place.
About two o'clock we started from Aberdeen, among crowds of friends,
to whom we bade farewell with real regret.
At Stonehaven station, where we stopped a few minutes, there was quite
a gathering of the inhabitants to exchange greetings, and afterwards,
at successive stations along the road, many a kindly face and voice
made our journey a pleasant one.
When we got into Dundee it seemed all alive with welcome. We went in
the carriage with the lord provost, Mr. Thoms, to his residence, where
a party had been waiting dinner for us for some time.
The meeting in the evening was in a large church, densely crowded, and
conducted much as the others had been. When they came to sing the
closing hymn, I hoped they would sing Dundee; but they did not, and I
fear in Scotland, as elsewhere, the characteristic national melodies
are giving way before more modern ones.
We left Dundee at two o'clock, by cars, for Edinburgh again, and in
the evening attended another soiree of the workingmen of
Edinburgh. We have received letters from the workingmen, both in
Dundee and Glasgow, desiring our return to attend soirees in
those cities. Nothing could give us greater pleasure, had we time or
strength. The next day we had a few calls to make, and an invitation
from Lady Drummond to visit classic Hawthornden, which, however, we
had not time to accept. In the forenoon, Mr. S. and I called on Lord
and Lady Gainsborough. Though she is one of the queen's household, she
is staying here at Edinburgh while the queen is at Osborne. I infer,
therefore, that the appointment includes no very onerous duties. The
Earl of Gainsborough is the eldest brother of the Rev. Baptist W.
Noel. It was a rainy, misty morning when I left my kind retreat and
friends in Edinburgh. Considerate as everybody had been about imposing
on my time or strength, still you may well believe that I was much
exhausted. We left Edinburgh, therefore, with the determination to
plunge at once into some hidden and unknown spot, where we might spend
two or three days quietly by ourselves; and remembering your Sunday at
Stratford-on-Avon, I proposed that we should go there. As Stratford,
however, is off the railroad line, we determined to accept the
invitation, which was lying by us, from our friend, Joseph Sturge, of
Birmingham, and take sanctuary with him. So we wrote on, intrusting
him with the secret, and charging him on no account to let any one
know of our arrival.
About night our cars whizzed into the depot at Birmingham; but just
before we came in a difficulty was started in the company. "Mr. Sturge
is to be there waiting for us, but he does not know us and we don't
know him; what is to be done?" C. insisted that he should know him by
instinct; and so, after we reached the depot, we told him to sally out
and try. Sure enough, in a few moments he pitched upon a cheerful,
middle-aged gentleman, with a moderate but not decisive broad brim to
his hat, and challenged him as Mr. Sturge. The result verified the
truth that "instinct is a great matter." In a few moments our new
friend and ourselves were snugly encased in a fly, trotting off as
briskly as ever we could to his place at Edgbaston, nobody a whit the
wiser. You do not know how pleased we felt to think we had done it so
As we were drinking tea that evening, Elihu Burritt came in. It was
the first time I had ever seen him, though I had heard a great deal of
him from our friends in Edinburgh. He is a man in middle life, tall
and slender, with fair complexion, blue eyes, an air of delicacy and
refinement, and manners of great gentleness. My ideas of the "learned
blacksmith" had been of something altogether more ponderous and
peremptory. Elihu has been for some years operating, in England and on
the Continent, in a movement which many in our half-Christianized
times regard with as much incredulity as the grim, old warlike barons
did the suspicious imbecilities of reading and writing. The sword now,
as then, seems so much more direct a way to terminate controversies,
that many Christian men, even, cannot conceive how the world is to get
along without it.
We spent the evening in talking over various topics relating to the
anti-slavery movement. Mr. Sturge was very confident that something
more was to be done than had ever been done yet, by combinations for
the encouragement of free in the place of slave grown produce; a
question which has, ever since the days of Clarkson, more or less
deeply occupied the minds of abolitionists in England. I should say
that Mr. Sturge in his family has for many years conscientiously
forborne the use of any article produced by slave labor. I could
scarcely believe it possible that there could be such an abundance and
variety of all that is comfortable and desirable in the various
departments of household living within these limits. Mr. Sturge
presents the subject with very great force, the more so from the
consistency of his example.
The next morning, as we were sitting down to breakfast, our friends
sent in to me a plate of the largest, finest strawberries I have ever
seen, which, considering that it was only the latter part of April,
seemed to me quite an astonishing luxury.
Before we left, we had agreed to meet a circle of friends from
Birmingham, consisting of the Abolition Society there, which is of
long standing, extending back in its memories to the very commencement
of the agitation under Clarkson and Wilberforce. The windows of the
parlor were opened to the ground; and the company invited filled not
only the room, but stood in a crowd on the grass around the window.
Among the peaceable company present was an admiral in the navy, a
fine, cheerful old gentleman, who entered with hearty interest into
A throng of friends accompanied us to the depot, while from Birmingham
we had the pleasure of the company of Elihu Burritt, and enjoyed a
delightful run to London, where we arrived towards evening.
At the station-house in London we found the Rev. Messrs. Binney and
Sherman waiting for us with carriages. C. went with Mr. Sherman, and
Mr. S. and I soon found ourselves in a charming retreat called Rose
Cottage, in Walworth, about which I will tell you more anon. Mrs. B.
received us with every attention which the most thoughtful hospitality
could suggest. One of the first things she said to me after we got
into our room was, "Oh, we are so glad you have come! for we are all
going to the lord mayor's dinner tonight, and you are invited." So,
though I was tired, I hurried to dress in all the glee of meeting an
adventure. As soon as Mr. and Mrs. B. and the rest of the party were
ready, crack went the whip, round went the wheels, and away we drove.
We found a considerable throng, and I was glad to accept a seat which
was offered me in the agreeable vicinity of the lady mayoress, so that
I might see what would be interesting to me of the ceremonial.
A very dignified gentleman, dressed in black velvet, with a fine head,
made his way through the throng, and sat down by me, introducing
himself as Lord Chief Baron Pollock. He told me he had just been
reading the legal part of the "Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin," and remarked
especially on the opinion of Judge Ruffin, in the case of State
v. Mann, as having made a deep impression on his mind.
Dinner was announced between nine and ten o'clock, and we were
conducted into a splendid hall, where the tables were laid.
Directly opposite me was Mr. Dickens, whom I now beheld for the first
time, and was surprised to see looking so young. Mr. Justice Talfourd,
known as the author of "Ion," was also there with his lady. She had a
beautiful, antique cast of head. The lord mayor was simply dressed in
black, without any other adornment than a massive gold chain. We rose
from table between eleven and twelve o'clock--that is, we ladies--and
went into the drawing-room, where I was presented to Mrs. Dickens and
several other ladies. Mrs. Dickens is a good specimen of a truly
English woman; tall, large, and well developed, with fine, healthy
color, and an air of frankness, cheerfulness, and reliability. A
friend whispered to me that she was as observing and fond of humor as
After a while the gentlemen came back to the drawing-room, and I had a
few moments of very pleasant, friendly conversation with Mr. Dickens.
They are both people that one could not know a little of without
desiring to know more. After a little we began to talk of separating;
the lord mayor to take his seat in the House of Commons, and the rest
of the party to any other engagement that might be upon their list.
"Come, let us go to the House of Commons," said one of my friends,
"and make a night of it." "With all my heart," replied I, "if I only
had another body to go into to-morrow."
What a convenience in sight-seeing it would be if one could have a
relay of bodies as of clothes, and slip from one into the other! But
we, not used to the London style of turning night into day, are full
weary already. So good-night to you all.