By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Records of Later Life
Author: Kemble, Fanny, 1809-1893
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Records of Later Life" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

{Transcriber's note:

The author's spelling and hyphenation are inconsistent, and have not been
changed except in the case of obvious typographical errors, which are
listed at the end of this e-text. Spellings and accents in foreign
languages are particularly eccentric.}





    COPYRIGHT, 1882,


                                       PHILADELPHIA, October 26th, 1834.

However stoutly your incredulity may have held out hitherto against the
various "authentic" reports of my marriage, I beg you will, upon receipt
of this, immediately believe that I was married on the 7th of June last,
and have now been a wife nearly five mortal months. You know that in
leaving the stage I left nothing that I regretted; but the utter
separation from my family consequent upon settling in this country, is a
serious source of pain to me....

With regard to what you say, about the first year of one's marriage not
being as happy as the second, I know not how that may be. I had pictured
to myself no fairyland of enchantments within the mysterious precincts
of matrimony; I expected from it rest, quiet, leisure to study, to
think, and to work, and legitimate channels for the affections of my

In the closest and dearest friendship, shades of character, and the
precise depth and power of the various qualities of mind and heart,
never approximate to such a degree, as to preclude all possibility of
occasional misunderstandings.

    "Not e'en the nearest heart, and most our own,
    Knows half the reasons why we smile or sigh."

It is impossible that it should be otherwise: for no two human beings
were ever fashioned absolutely alike, even in their gross outward bodily
form and lineaments, and how should the fine and infinite spirit admit
of such similarity with another? But the broad and firm principles upon
which all honorable and enduring sympathy is founded, the love of truth,
the reverence for right, the abhorrence of all that is base and
unworthy, admit of no difference or misunderstanding; and where these
exist in the relations of two people united for life, it seems to me
that love and happiness, as perfect as this imperfect existence affords,
may be realized....

Of course, kindred, if not absolutely similar, minds, do exist; but they
do not often meet, I think, and hardly ever unite. Indeed, though the
enjoyment of intercourse with those who resemble us may be very great, I
suppose the influence of those who differ from us is more wholesome; for
in mere _unison_ of thought and feeling there could be no exercise for
forbearance, toleration, self-examination by comparison with another
nature, or the sifting of one's own opinions and feelings, and testing
their accuracy and value, by contact and contrast with opposite feelings
and opinions. A fellowship of mere accord, approaching to identity in
the nature of its members, would lose much of the uses of human
intercourse and its worth in the discipline of life, and, moreover,
render the separation of death intolerable. But I am writing you a
disquisition, and no one needs it less....

I did read your praise of me, and thank you for it; it is such praise as
I wish I deserved, and the sense of the affection which dictated it, in
some measure, diminished my painful consciousness of demerit. But I
thank you for so pleasantly making me feel the excellence of moral
worth, and though the picture you held up to me as mine made me blush
for the poor original, yet I may strive to become more like your
likeness of me, and so turn your praise to profit. Those who love me
will read it perhaps with more satisfaction than my conscience allows me
to find in it, and for the pleasure which they must derive from such
commendation of me I thank you with all my heart.

What can I tell you of myself? My life, and all its occupations, are of
a sober neutral tint. I am busy preparing my Journal for the press. I
read but little, and that of old-fashioned kinds. I have never read
much, and am disgracefully ignorant: I am looking forward with delight
to hours of quiet study, and the mental hoards in store for me. I am
busy preparing to leave town; I am at present, and have been ever since
my marriage, staying in the house of my brother-in-law, and feel not a
little anxious to be in a home of my own. But painters, and carpenters,
and upholsterers are dirty divinities of a lower order, not to be moved,
or hastened, by human invocations (or even imprecations), and we must
e'en bide their time.

I please myself much in the fancying of furniture, and fitting up of the
house; and I look forward to a garden, green-house, and dairy, among my
future interests, to each of which I intend to addict myself zealously.

My pets are a horse, a bird, and a black squirrel, and I do not see
exactly what more a reasonable woman could desire. Human companionship,
indeed, at present, I have not much of; but as like will to like, I do
not despair of attracting towards me, by-and-by, some of my own kind,
with whom I may enjoy pleasant intercourse; but you can form no
idea--none--none--of the intellectual dearth and drought in which I am
existing at present.

I care nothing for politics here, ... though I wish this great Republic
well. But what are the rulers and guides of the people doing in England?
I see the abolition of the Peerage has been suggested, but, I presume,
as a bad joke.... If I were a man in England, I should like to devote my
life to the cause of national progress, carried on through party
politics and public legislation; and if I was not a Christian, I think,
every now and then, I should like to shoot Brougham.... You speak of
coming to this country: but I do not think you would like it; though you
are much respected, admired, and loved here.

I have not met Miss Martineau yet, but I am afraid she is not likely to
like me much. I admire her genius greatly, but have an inveterate
tendency to worship at all the crumbling shrines, which she and her
employers seem intent upon pulling down; and I think I should be an
object of much superior contempt to that enlightened and clever female
Radical and Utilitarian.

I was introduced to Mrs. Austin some years ago, and she impressed me
more, in many ways, than any of the remarkable women I have known. Her
husband's constant ill-health kept her in a state of comparative
seclusion, and deprived London society of a person of uncommon original
mental power and acquired knowledge; in most respects I thought her
superior to the most brilliant female members of the society of my day,
of which her daughter, Lucy Gordon, was a distinguished ornament.

Once too, years ago, I passed an evening with Lady Byron, and fell in
love with her for quoting the axiom which she does apply, though she did
not invent it--"To treat men as if they were better than they are, is
the surest way to _make_ them better than they are:"--and whenever I
think of her I remember that.

I congratulate you on your acquaintance with Madame von Goethe: to know
any one who had lived intimately with the greatest genius of this age,
and one of the greatest the world has produced, seems to me an immense

Your letter is dated July--how many things are done that you then meant
to do?

I am just now seeing a great deal of Edward Trelawney; he traveled with
us last summer when we went to Niagara, and professing a great regard
for me, told me, upon reading your "notice" of me, that he felt much
inclined to write to you and solicit your acquaintance....

Good-bye, and God bless you; write to me when the spirit prompts you,
and believe me always

                              Yours very truly,
                                                                F. A. B.

    [My long experience of life in America presents the ideas and
    expectations with which I first entered upon it in an aspect at once
    ludicrous and melancholy to me now. With all an Englishwoman's
    notions of country interests, duties, and occupations; the village,
    the school, the poor, one's relations with the people employed on
    one's place, and one's own especial hobbies of garden, dairy, etc.,
    had all been contemplated by me from a point of view which, taken
    from rural life in my own country, had not the slightest resemblance
    to anything in any American existence.

    Butler Place--or as I then called it, "The Farm," preferring that
    homely, and far more appropriate, though less distinctive
    appellation, to the rather pretentious title, which neither the
    extent of the property nor size and style of the house
    warranted--was not then our own, and we inhabited it by the kind
    allowance of an old relation to whom it belonged, in consequence of
    my decided preference for a country to a town residence.

    It was in no respect superior to a second-rate farm-house in
    England, as Mr. Henry Berkeley told a Philadelphia friend of ours,
    who considered it a model country mansion and rural residence and
    asked him how it compared with the generality of "country places" in

    It was amply sufficient, however, for my desires: but not being
    mine, all my busy visions of gardening and green-house improvement,
    etc., had to be indefinitely postponed. Subsequently, I took great
    interest and pleasure in endeavoring to improve and beautify the
    ground round the house; I made flower-beds and laid out
    gravel-walks, and left an abiding mark of my sojourn there in a
    double row of two hundred trees, planted along the side of the
    place, bordered by the high-road; many of which, from my and my
    assistants' combined ignorance, died, or came to no good growth. But
    those that survived our unskillful operations still form a screen of
    shade to the grounds, and protect them in some measure from the dust
    and glare of the highway.

    Cultivating my garden was not possible. My first attempt at
    cultivating my neighbors' good-will was a ludicrous and lamentable
    failure. I offered to teach the little children of my gardener and
    farmer, and as many of the village children as liked to join them,
    to read and write; but found my benevolent proposal excited nothing
    but a sort of contemptuous amazement. There was the village school,
    where they received instruction for which they were obliged and
    willing to pay, to which they were accustomed to go, which answered
    all their purposes, fulfilled all their desires, and where the small
    students made their exits and their entrances without bob or bow,
    pulling of forelock, or any other superstitious observance of
    civilized courtesy: my gratuitous education was sniffed at alike by
    parents and progeny, and of course the whole idea upon which I had
    proffered it was mistaken and misplaced, and may have appeared to
    them to imply an impertinent undervaluing of a system with which
    they were perfectly satisfied; of the conditions of which, however,
    I was entirely ignorant then. These people and their children wanted
    nothing that I could give them. The "ladies" liked the make of my
    gowns, and would have borrowed them for patterns with pleasure, and
    this was all they desired or required from me.

    On the first 4th of July I spent there, being alone at the place, I
    organized (British fashion) a feast and rejoicing, such as I thought
    should mark the birthday of American Independence, and the expulsion
    of the tyrannical English from the land. I had a table set under the
    trees, and a dinner spread for thirty-two guests, to which number
    the people on the two farms, with children and servants, amounted.
    Beer and wine were liberally provided, and fireworks, for due
    honoring of the evening; and though I did not take "the head of the
    table" (which would have been a usurpation), or make speeches on the
    "expulsion of the British," I did my best to give my visitors "a
    good time"; but succeeded only in imposing upon them a dinner and
    afternoon of uncomfortable constraint, from which the juniors of the
    party alone seemed happily free. Neither the wine nor beer were
    touched, and I found they were rather objects of moral reprobation
    than of material comfort to my Quaker farmer and his family, who
    were all absolute temperance people; he, indeed, was sorely
    disinclined to join at all in the "festive occasion," objecting to
    me repeatedly that it was a "shame and a pity to waste such a fine
    day for work in doing nothing"; and so, with rather a doleful
    conviction that my hospitality was as little acceptable to my
    neighbors as my teaching, I bade my guests farewell, and never
    repeated the experiment of a 4th of July Celebration dinner at
    Butler Place.

    Of all my blunders, however, that which I made with regard to the
    dairy was the most ludicrous. Understanding nothing at all of the
    entirely independent position of our "farmer"--to whom, in fact, the
    dairy was rented, as well as the meadows that pastured the
    cattle--and rather dissatisfied at not being able to obtain a daily
    fresh supply of butter for our home consumption, I went down to the
    farm-house, and had an interview with the dairymaid; to whom I
    explained my desire for a small supply of fresh butter daily for our
    breakfast table. But words are faint to express her amazement at the
    proposition; the butter was churned regularly in large quantities
    twice a week, and the necessary provision for our household being
    set aside and charged to us, the remainder was sent off to market
    with the rest of the farm produce, and there disposed of to the
    public in general. Philadelphia butter had then a high reputation
    through all the sea-board States, where it was held superior to that
    of all other markets; it was sold in New York and Baltimore, and
    sent as far as Boston as a welcome present, and undoubtedly not
    churned oftener than twice a week. Fresh butter every morning! who
    ever heard the like? Twice-a-week butter not good enough for
    anybody! who ever dreamt of such vagaries? The young woman was quiet
    and Quakerly sober, in spite of her unbounded astonishment at such a
    demand; but when, having exhausted my prettiest vocabulary of
    requests and persuasions, and, as I thought, not quite without
    effect, I turned to leave her, she followed me to the door with this
    parting address: "Well--anyhow--don't thee fill theeself up with the
    notion that I'm going to churn butter for thee more than twice a
    week." She probably thought me mad, and I was too ignorant to know
    that to "bring" a small quantity of butter in the enormous churn she
    used was a simple impossibility: nor, I imagine, was she aware that
    any machine of lesser dimensions was ever used for the purpose. I
    got myself a tiny table-churn, and for a little while made a small
    quantity of fresh butter myself for our daily breakfast supply; but
    soon weaned of it, and thought it not worth while--nobody cared for
    it but myself, and I accepted my provision of market butter twice a
    week, with no more ado about the matter, together with the
    conclusion that the dairy at Butler Place would decidedly not be one
    of its mistress's hobbies.

    Of any charitable interest, or humane occupation, to be derived from
    the poverty of my village neighbors, I very soon found my
    expectation equally vain. Our village had no _poor_--none in the
    deplorable English acceptation of that word; none in the too often
    degraded and degrading conditions it implies. People poorer than
    others, comparatively poor people, it undoubtedly had--hard workers,
    toiling for their daily bread; but none who could not get well-paid
    work or find sufficient bread; and the abject element of ignorant,
    helpless, hopeless pauperism, looking for its existence to charity,
    and substituting alms-taking for independent labor, was unknown
    there. As for "visiting" among them, as technically understood and
    practiced by Englishwomen among their poorer neighbors, such a
    civility would have struck mine as simply incomprehensible; and
    though their curiosity might perhaps have been gratified by making
    acquaintance with my various (to them) strange peculiarities, I
    doubt even the amusement they might have derived from them being
    accepted as any equivalent for what would have seemed the strangest
    of them all--my visit.

    A similar blessed exemption from the curse of pauperism existed in
    the New England village of Lenox, where I owned a small property,
    and passed part of many years. Being asked by my friends there to
    give a public reading, it became a question to what purpose the
    proceeds of the entertainment could best be applied. I suggested
    "the poor of the village," but, "We have no poor," was the reply,
    and the sum produced by the reading was added to a fund which
    established an excellent public library; for though Lenox had no
    paupers, it had numerous intelligent readers among its population.

    I have spoken of the semi-disapprobation with which my Quaker farmer
    declined the wine and beer offered him at my 4th of July festival.
    Some years after, when I found the men employed in mowing a meadow
    of mine at Lenox with no refreshment but "water from the well," I
    sent in much distress a considerable distance for a barrel of beer,
    which seemed to me an indispensable adjunct to such labor under the
    fervid heat of that summer sky; and was most seriously expostulated
    with by my admirable friend, Mr. Charles Sedgwick, as introducing
    among the laborers of Lenox a mischievous need and deleterious
    habit, till then utterly unknown there, and setting a pernicious
    example to both employers and employed throughout the whole
    neighborhood. In short, my poor barrel of beer was an offense to the
    manners and morals of the community I lived in, and my meadow was
    mowed upon cold "water from the well"; of which indeed the water was
    so delicious, that I often longed for it as King David did for that
    which, after all, he would not drink, because his mighty men had
    risked their lives in procuring it for him.[1]

         [1] In writing thus, I do not mean to imply that the abuse of
        intoxicating liquors, or the vice of drunkenness were then
        unknown in America. The national habits of the present day would
        suggest that such a change (albeit in the space of fifty years)
        would surpass the rapidity of movement of even that most rapidly
        changing nation. But the use of either beer or wine at the
        tables of the Philadelphians, when I first lived among them, was
        quite exceptional. There was a small knot of old-fashioned
        gentlemen (very like old-fashioned Englishmen they were), by
        whom good wine was known and appreciated; especially certain
        exquisite Madeira, of the Bingham and Butler names, the like of
        which it was believed the world could not produce; but this was
        Olympian nectar, for the gods alone; and the usual custom of the
        best society, at the early three-o'clock dinner, was
        water-drinking. Nor had the immense increase of the German
        population then flooded Philadelphia with perennial streams from
        innumerable "lager beer" cellars and saloons: the universal
        rule, at the time when these letters were written, was absolute
        temperance; the exception to it, a rare occasional instance of
        absolute intemperance.

        Very many fewer than fifty years ago, a celebrated professional
        English cricketer consulted, in deep dudgeon, a medical
        gentleman upon certain internal symptoms, which he attributed
        entirely to the "damned beastly cold water" which had been the
        sole refreshment in the Philadelphia cricket-field, and which
        had certainly heated his temper to a pitch of exasperation which
        made it difficult for the medical authority appealed to, to keep
        his countenance during the consultation.

        I need not say that, under the above state of things, no
        provision was made for what I should call domestic or household
        drunkenness in American families. Beer, or beer money, was not
        found necessary to sustain the strength of footmen driving about
        town on a coach-box for an hour or two of an afternoon, or
        valets laying out their masters' boots and cravats for dinner,
        or ladies'-maids pinning caps on their mistresses' heads, or
        even young housemaids condemned to the exhausting labor of
        making beds and dusting furniture. The deplorable practice of
        _swilling_ adulterated malt liquor two or three times a day,
        begun in early boy and girlhood among English servants, had not
        in America, as I am convinced it has with us, laid the
        foundation for later habits of drinking in a whole class of the
        community, among whom a pernicious inherited necessity for the
        indulgence is one of its consequences; while another, and more
        lamentable one, is the wide-spread immorality, to remedy (and if
        possible prevent) which is the object of the institution of the
        Girls' Friendly Society, and similar benevolent
        associations--none of which I am persuaded will effectually
        fulfill their object, until the vicious propensity to drink
        ceases to be fostered in the kitchens and servants' halls of our
        most respectable people.

    To English people, the character and quality of my "mowers" would
    seem astonishing enough; at the head of them was the son of a much
    respected New England judge, himself the owner of a beautiful farm
    adjoining my small estate, which he cultivated with his own hands--a
    most amiable, intelligent, and refined man, a gentleman in the
    deepest sense of the word, my very kind neighbor and friend, whose
    handsome countenance certainly expressed unbounded astonishment at
    my malt liquor theory applied to his labor and that of his

                                      PHILADELPHIA, November 27th, 1837.
  MY DEAR H----,

If in about a month's time you should grumble and fall out with me for
not writing, you will certainly be in some degree justified; for I think
it must be near upon three weeks since I wrote to you, which is a sin
and a shame. To say that I have not had time to write is nonsense, for
in three weeks there are too many days, hours, and minutes, for me to
fancy that I _really_ had not had sufficient leisure, yet it has almost
seemed as if I had not. I have been constantly driving out to the farm,
to watch the progress of the painting, whitewashing, etc., etc.: in town
I have been engaging servants, ordering china, glass, and furniture,
choosing carpets, curtains, and house linen, and devoutly studying all
the time Dr. Kitchener's "Housekeeper's Manual and Cook's Oracle." You
see, I have been careful and troubled about many things, and through
them all you have been several thorns in both my sides; for I thought of
you perpetually, and knew I ought to write to you, and wanted and wished
to do so--and didn't; for which pray forgive me.

I want to tell you two circumstances about servants, illustrative of the
mind and manners of that class of persons in this country. A young woman
engaged herself to me, as lady's-maid, immediately before my marriage;
she had been a seamstress, and her health had been much injured by
constantly stooping at her sedentary employment. I took her into my
service at a salary of £25 a year. She had little to do; I took care
that every day she should be out walking for at least an hour; she had
two holidays a week, all my discarded wardrobe, and every kindness and
attention of every sort that I could bestow upon her, for she was very
gentle and pleasant to me, and I liked her very much. A short time ago,
she gave me warning; the first reason she assigned for doing so was that
she didn't think she should like living in the country, but finally it
resolved itself into this--that she could not bear _being a servant_.
She told me that she had no intention of seeking any other situation,
for that she knew very well that after mine she could find none that she
would like, but she said the sense of entire independence was necessary
to her happiness, and she could not exist any longer in a state of
"_servitude_." She told me she was going to resume her former life, or
rather, as I should say, her former process of dying, for it was
literally that; she took her wages, and left me. She was very pretty and
refined, and rejoiced in the singular Christian name of Unity.[2]

    [2] A lady's-maid was quite an unusual member of a household in
    America, at this time; I remember no lady in Philadelphia who then
    had such an attendant: it is not impossible that the singularity of
    her service, and therefore apparently anomalous character of her
    position, may have helped to disgust my maid Unity with her
    situation. Probably the influence of Quaker modes of thought, and
    feeling, and habits of life (even among such of the community as
    were not "friends"--technically so called), had produced the
    peculiarities which characterized the Philadelphian society of that
    day, and made people among whom I lived strange to me--as I to them.

The other instance of domestic manners in these parts was furnished me
by a woman whom I engaged as cook; terms agreed upon, everything
settled: two days after, she sent me word that she had "_changed her
mind_,"--that's all--isn't it pleasant?...

My dear H----, you half fly into a rage with me all across the Atlantic,
because I tell you that I hope ere long to see you; really that was not
quite the return I expected for what I thought would be agreeable news
to you; however, hear further.... If I am alive next summer, I hope to
spend three months in England: one with my own family and Emily
Fitzhugh: one in Scotland; and one with you, if you and Mrs. Taylor
_please_.... I have been obliged to give up riding, for some time ago my
horse fell with me, and though I was not at all hurt, I was badly
frightened; so I trot about on my feet, and drive to and from town and
the farm in a little four-wheeled machine called here a wagon.

The other day, for the first time, I explored my small future domain,
which is bounded, on the right, by the high-road; on the left, by a not
unromantic little mill-stream, with bits of rock, and cedar-bushes, and
dams, and, I am sorry to say, a very picturesque, half-tumbled-down
factory; on the north, by fields and orchards of our neighbors, and
another road; and on the south, by a pretty, deep, shady lane, running
from the high-road to the above-mentioned factory.... I think the extent
of our _estate_ is about three hundred acres. A small portion of it,
perhaps some seventy acres, lies on the other side of the high-road.
Except a kitchen-garden, there is none that deserves the name: no
flower-beds, no shrubberies, no gravel-walks. A large field, now planted
with maize, or Indian corn, is on one side of an avenue of maple-trees
that leads to the house; on the other is an apple-orchard. There is
nothing that can call itself a lawn, though coarse grass grows all round
the house. There are four pretty pasture meadows, and a very pretty
piece of woodland, which, coasting the stream and mill-dam, will, I
foresee, become a favorite haunt of mine. There is a farm-yard, a
cider-press, a pond, a dairy, and out-houses, and adjuncts innumerable.

I have succeeded, after difficulties and disasters manifold, in engaging
an apparently tolerably decent staff of servants; the house is freshly
painted and clean, the furniture being finished with all expedition, the
carpets ready to lay down; next week I hope to send our household out,
and the week after I sincerely hope we shall transfer ourselves thither,
and I shall be in a home of my own.

Miss Martineau is just now in Philadelphia: I have seen and conversed
with her, and I think, were her stay long enough to admit of so
agreeable a conclusion, we might become good friends. It is not
presumptuous for me to say that, dear H----, because, you know, a very
close degree of friendship may exist where there is great disparity of
intellect. Her deafness is a serious bar to her enjoyment of society,
and some drawback to the pleasure of conversing with her, for, as a man
observed to me last night, "One feels so like a fool, saying, 'How do
you do?' through a speaking-trumpet in the middle of a drawing-room;"
and unshoutable commonplaces form the staple of all drawing-room
conversation. They are giving literary parties to her, and balls to one
of their own townswomen who has just returned from abroad, which makes
Philadelphia rather gayer than usual; and I have had so long a fast from
dissipation that I find myself quite excited at the idea of going to a
dance again.

I toil on, copying my Journal, and one volume of it is already printed;
but now that the object of its publication is gone, I feel rather
disgusted at the idea of publishing it at all. You know what my Journal
always was, and that no word of it was ever written with the fear of the
printer's devil before my eyes, and now that I have become careless as
to its money value, it seems to me a mere mass of trivial egotism....
When I sold it, it was an excellent, good book, for I thought it would
help to make a small independence for my dear Dall; now she is gone, and
it is mere trash, but I have sold it....

My country life will, I hope, be one of study, and I pray and believe,
of quiet happiness. I drove out to the farm yesterday, and walked nearly
four miles, through meadows and lanes and by-roads, and over plowed
fields, and found mill-streams and bits of picturesque rock, and pretty
paths to be explored at further length on horseback hereafter.... I have
one very great pleasure almost in contemplation; I think it probable
that my friend, Miss Sedgwick, will visit Philadelphia this winter. If
she does, I am sure she will remain a short time here, which will be a
great delight to me.... I wish to have no more _acquaintance_--that is a
pure waste of time: I do not wish to know any one whom, if opportunity
served, I should not desire to make my friend, as well as my visitor. I
have begun learning book-keeping by double entry, and find it
unspeakably tiresome; indeed, nothing in it engages my attention but
various hypothetical cases of Loss of Ships and Cargoes (as per invoice,
so and so, and so and so); Bankruptcies, with so much in the pound for
creditors; Dissolutions of partnership, with estimates of joint
property, or calculations of profit and loss; Insurances and
fire-catastrophes; Divisions of capital invested in failing securities,
or unlucky speculations; instead of attending to all which in their
purely business aspect, my imagination flies off to the dramatic,
passionate, human element involved in such accidents, and I think of all
manner of plays and novels, instead of "Cash Accounts," to be extracted

Good-bye, dearest H----.

                              Ever affectionately yours,
                                                                F. A. B.

                                              BRANCHTOWN, May 1st, 1835.

Reflecting upon the loss I have sustained in the death of my dear Dall,
you exclaim, "How difficult it is to realize that life has become
eternity, hope is become certainty! How strange, how impossible, it
seems to conceive a state of existence without expectation, and where
all is fulfillment!" I have marked under the word "_impossible_,"
because such a belief is literally impossible to my mind; the sense of
activity, of desire for, and aiming at, and striving after something
better than what I am, is so essential a portion of the idea of
happiness to me that I absolutely can conceive of no happiness but in
the attempt at, and consciousness of, progress. The state where that
hope did not exist, and where the spiritual energies were not presented
with deeper and higher objects of attainment, would be no state of
enjoyment to me. I cannot imagine heaven without inexhaustible means of
increasing knowledge and excellence.... Perhaps in that state, dear
Emily, we shall be able to find out how a mummy of the days of Memnon
should have preserved in its dead grasp a living germ for 3000 years....
[This last sentence referred to a striking fact, which Miss Fitz Hugh's
uncle, Mr. William Hamilton, told us, of a bulb found in the sarcophagus
of a mummy, which was planted, and actually began to germinate and

                                             BRANCHTOWN, May 27th, 1835.

... It is curious that in a comparatively inactive state of life, the
sense of the infinite business _of living_ has become far more vivid to
me than it ever was before; existence seems so abounding in duties, in
objects of interest and energy, in means of excellence and
pleasure--happiness, I ought rather to say,--the immense and important
happiness of constant endeavor after improvement.... Dear H----, my
letter was interrupted here yesterday by a visitor. I will join my
thread, and go on with a few words which I have this moment read in
Hayward's Appendix to Goethe's "Faust." When Goethe had to bear the
death of his only son, he wrote to Zelter thus: "Here then can _the
mighty conception of duty_ alone hold us erect--I have no other care
than to keep myself in equipoise. The body _must_, the spirit _will_,
and he who sees a necessary path prescribed to his will has no need to
ponder much." The first part of this is noble; but I am not going to do
what I used to quarrel so much with you for doing--fill my letters with
quotations, or even make disquisitions of them; at any rate, till I have
answered your last.

I am extremely vexed at all the trouble you and Emily have taken about
my picture: for the artist himself (Mr. Sully, of Philadelphia) is not
satisfied with it, and I am sure would be rather sorry than glad that it
were exhibited. That artist is a charming person; and I must tell you
how he proceeded about that picture. When your letter came,
acknowledging the receipt of it, he asked how you were satisfied: I told
him the truth, and what you had written on the subject of the likeness.
He did not appear stupidly annoyed, but sorry for your disappointment,
and told me that he had been from the first dissatisfied with it as a
likeness, himself. He pressed upon my acceptance for you a little
melancholy head of me, an admirable and not too much flattered likeness;
but as he had given that to his wife, of whom I am very fond, of course
I would not deprive her of it; and there the matter rested. But when,
some time after, some pictures he had painted for us were paid for, he
steadfastly refused the price agreed upon for yours, because it had not
satisfied him _himself_. He said that had you been even less pleased
with it, he should not _therefore_ have refused the money; but his own
conscience, he added, bore witness to the truth of your objections, and
when that was the case, he invariably acted in the same way, and
declined to receive payment for what he didn't consider worth it. As he
is our friend, we could not press the money upon him; but we have got
him to undertake a portrait of Dr. Mease, and I have added sundry grains
more to my regard for him. As to the likeness, had you seen me about
three months after my marriage, you would have thought better of it.
[The portrait in question, painted for my friend, and now, I believe,
still at Ardgillan Castle, was one of six that my friend, Mr. Sully,
painted of me at various times, the best likeness of them all being one
that he took of me in the part of Beatrice, for which I did not sit.]
You talk of "nailing me down," to send me to the Academy, and the
expression brought a sudden shuddering recollection to my mind of the
dismal night I passed in Boston _packing up our stage clothes_ in dear
Dall's bedroom _while she was lying in her coffin_. I know not why your
words recalled that miserable circumstance to me, and all the mingled
feelings that accompanied such an occupation in such company....

You ask me if I do not love the country as I used to do. Indeed I do;
for, like all best good things, it seems the lovelier for near and
intimate acquaintance. Yet the country here, and this place in
particular, is not to me what it might be, and will be yet. This place
is not ours, and during the life of an old Miss B. will not belong to
us: this, of course, keeps my spirit of improvement in check, and
indeed, even if it were made over to us, with signing and sealing and
all due legal ceremonies, I should still feel some delicacy in making
wholesale alterations in a place which an elderly person, to whom it has
belonged, remembers such as it is for many years.

The absolute absence of all taste in matters of ornamental cultivation
is lamentably evident in the country dwellings of rich and poor alike,
as far as I have yet seen in this neighborhood. No natural beauty seems
to be perceived and taken advantage of, no defect hidden or adorned;
proximity to the road, for obvious purposes of mere convenience, seems
to have been the one idea in the selection of building sites; and
straight, ungraveled paths, straight rows of trees, straight strips of
coarse grass, straight box borders, dividing straight narrow
flower-beds, the prevailing idea of a garden; together with a deplorable
dearth of flowers, shrubberies, ornamental trees, and everything that
really deserves the name.

Good-bye, and God bless you.

                              Ever, as ever, yours,
                                                                F. A. B.

    [The country between the Wissihiccon and Pennipack--two small
    picturesque streams flowing, the one into the Schuylkill, the other
    into the Delaware--is a prosperous farming region, with a pleasingly
    varied, undulating surface, the arable land diversified with
    stretches of pretty wild woodland, watered by numerous small
    water-courses, and divided by the main highroad, once the chief
    channel of communication between New York and Philadelphia.

    Six miles from the latter city, at a village called Branchtown, and
    only a few yards from the road, stood my home; and it would be
    difficult for those who do not remember "the old York road," as it
    was called, and the country between that and Germantown, in the days
    when these letters were written, to imagine the change which nearly
    fifty years have produced in the whole region.

    No one who now sees the pretty populous villadom which has grown up
    in every direction round the home of my early married years--the
    neat cottages and cheerful country houses, the trim lawns and bright
    flower-gardens, the whole well laid out, tastefully cultivated, and
    carefully tended suburban district, with its attractive dwellings,
    could easily conceive the sort of abomination of desolation which
    its aspect formerly presented to eyes accustomed to the finish and
    perfection of rural English landscape.

    Between five and six miles of hideous and execrable turnpike road,
    without shade, and aridly detestable in the glare, heat, and dust of
    summer, and almost dangerously impassable in winter, made driving
    into Philadelphia an undertaking that neither love, friendship, nor
    pleasure--nothing but inexorable business or duty--reconciled one
    to. The cross roads in every direction were a mere succession of
    heavy, dusty, sandy pitfalls, or muddy quagmires, where, on foot or
    on horseback, rapid progress was equally impossible. The whole
    region, from the very outskirts of the city to the beautiful crest
    of Chestnut Hill, overlooking its wide expanse of smiling foreground
    and purple distant horizon, was then, with its mean-looking
    scattered farm-houses and huge ungainly barns (whatever may have
    been its agricultural merits), uninteresting and uninviting in all
    the human elements of the landscape, dreary in summer and dismal in
    winter, and absolutely void of the civilized cheerful charm that now
    characterizes it.

    _Per contra_, it then was _country_, and now is suburb: there were
    woods and lanes where now there are stations and railroads, and the
    solitude of rural walks and rides instead of the "continuation of
    the city" which has now cut up and laid waste the old Stenton
    estate, and threatens the fields of Butler Place and the lovely and
    beloved woods of Champlost, and will presently convert that whole
    neighborhood into a mere appendage of Philadelphia, wildly driven
    over by city rowdies with fast-trotting teams or mad, gigantic
    daddy-long-legs-looking sulkies, and perambulated by tramps
    pretending poverty and practicing theft.]

                                                       BRANCHTOWN, 1835.

I have not written to you since I received a most interesting and
delightful letter of yours from Saxe-Weimar, containing an account of
your stay in Goethe's house. My answering you at all is a movement of
gratitude for your kindness in remembering me in the midst of such
surroundings, and nothing but my faith in your desire to hear something
of me would induce me to send into the world of romantic and poetic
associations you are now inhabiting, any dispatch from this most prosaic
and commonplace world of my adoption.

I think, however, it will please you to hear that I am well and happy,
and that my whole state of life and being has assumed a placid,
tranquil, serene, and even course, which, after the violent excitements
of my last few years, is both agreeable and wholesome. I should think,
ever since my coming out on the stage, I must have lived pretty much at
the rate of three years in every one--I mean in point of physical
exertion and exhaustion. The season of my repose is, however, arrived,
and it seems almost difficult to imagine that, after beginning life in
such a tumult of action and excitement, the remainder of my years is
lying stretched before me, like a level, peaceful landscape, through
which I shall saunter leisurely towards my grave. This is the pleasant
probable future: God only knows what changes and chances may sweep
across the smiling prospect, but at present, according to the
calculations of mere human foresight, none are likely to arise. As I
write these words, I _do_ bethink me of one quarter from which our
present prosperous and peaceful existence might receive a shock--the
South. The family into which I have married are large slaveholders; our
present and future fortune depend greatly upon extensive plantations in
Georgia. But the experience of every day, besides our faith in the great
justice of God, forbids dependence on the duration of the mighty abuse
by which one race of men is held in abject physical and mental slavery
by another. As for me, though the toilsome earning of my daily bread
were to be my lot again to-morrow, I should rejoice with unspeakable
thankfulness that we had not to answer for what I consider so grievous a
sin against humanity.

I believe many years will not pass before this cry ceases to go up from
earth to heaven. The power of opinion is working silently and strongly
in the hearts of men; the majority of people in the North of this
country are opposed to the theory of slavery, though they tolerate its
practice in the South: and though the natural selfishness with which men
cling to their interests is only at present increasing the vigilance of
the planters in guarding their property and securing their prey, it is a
property which is crumbling under their feet, and a prey which is
escaping from their grasp; and perhaps, before many years are gone by,
the black population of the South will be free, and we comparatively
poor people--Amen! with all my heart....

I had hoped to revisit England before the winter, ... but this cannot
be, and I shall certainly not see England this year, if ever again.... I
think women in England are gradually being done justice to, and many
sources of goodness, usefulness, and happiness, that have hitherto been
sealed, are opened to them now, by a truer and more generous public
feeling, and more enlightened views of education.

I saw a good deal of Harriet Martineau, and liked her very much indeed,
in spite of her radicalism. She is gone to the South, where I think she
cannot fail to do some good, if only in giving another impulse to the
stone that already topples on the brink--I mean in that miserable matter
of slavery.

                              Yours very truly,
                                                                F. A. B.

    [No more striking instance can be given of the rapidity of movement,
    if not of progress, of American public opinion, than the so-called
    "Woman's Rights" question. When these letters were written, scarcely
    a whisper had made itself heard upon this and its relative subjects:
    the "Female Suffrage" was neither demanded nor desired; Margaret
    Fuller had not made public her views upon the condition of "Woman in
    the Nineteenth Century"; the different legislatures of the different
    States had not found it expedient to enact statutes securing to
    married women the independent use of their own property, and women's
    legal disabilities were, in every respect, much the same in the
    United States as in the mother country. Now, however, so great and
    rapid has been the change of public opinion in this direction in
    America, that in some of the States married women may not only
    possess and inherit property over which their husbands have no
    control, but their personal earnings have been so secured to them
    that neither their husbands nor their husbands' creditors can touch
    them; while at the same time, strange to say, their husbands are
    still liable for their support, and answerable for any debts they
    may contract, and men must pay these independent ladies' milliners'
    bills, if all these additional _rights_ have not brought with them
    some additional sense of justice, honesty, and old-fashioned right
    and wrong.

    This amazing consideration for the property claims of women is not,
    however, without its possible advantages for the magnanimous sex
    bestowing it; and unprincipled speculators, gamblers, in pursuits
    calling themselves business, but in reality mere games of chance,
    may now secure themselves from the ruin they deserve, and have
    incurred, by settling upon their wives large sums of money, or
    estates, which, by virtue of the women's independent legal tenure of
    property, effectually enable their husbands to baffle the claims of
    their creditors. Every use has its abuse. The melancholy process of
    divorce, by which an insupportable yoke may be dissolved with the
    sanction of the law, is achieved in America with a facility and upon
    grounds inadmissible for that purpose in England. Pennsylvania has
    long followed the German practice in this particular, allowing
    divorce, in cases of non-cohabitation for a space of two years, to
    either party claiming it upon those grounds; in some of the Western
    States the ease with which divorces are obtained is untrammeled by
    any condition but that of a sufficient term of residence, often a
    very brief one, within the State jurisdiction.

    Women lecture upon all imaginable subjects, and are listened to,
    whether treating of the right of their sex to the franchise, or the
    more unapproachable theme of its degraded misery in the public
    prostitution legally practiced in all the cities of this great New
    World, or the frantic vagaries of their theory of so-called Free
    Love. They are professors in colleges, practicing physicians; not
    yet, I believe, ordained clergywomen (the Quakers admit the female
    right to preach without the ceremony of laying on of hands), or
    admitted members of the bar; but it is difficult to imagine society
    existing at all under more absolute conditions of freedom for its
    female members than the women of the United States now enjoy. It is
    a pity that the use sometimes made of so many privileges forms a
    powerful argument to reasonable people in other countries against
    their possession.[3]]

        [3] I have learned since writing the above that in some of the
        Western States and cities--among others, I believe,
        Chicago--women are now practicing lawyers. A "legal lady" made
        at one time, I know not how successfully, an attempt to become a
        received member of the profession in Washington. In this, as in
        all other matters, the several States exercise uncontrolled
        jurisdiction within their own borders, and the Western States
        are naturally inclined to favor by legislation all attempts of
        this description; they are essentially the "New World." In the
        Eastern States European traditions still influence opinion, and
        women are not yet admitted members of the New York bar.

                                                       BRANCHTOWN, 1835.

It is so very long since I have written to you, that I almost fear my
handwriting and signature may be strange to your eyes and memory alike.
As, however, silence can hardly be more than a _passive_ sin--a sin of
omission, not commission--I hope they will not be unwelcome to you. I am
desirous you should still preserve towards me some of your old
kindliness of feeling, for I wish to borrow some of it for the person
who will carry this letter over the Atlantic--a very interesting young
friend of mine, who begged of me, as a great favor, a letter of
introduction to you.... I think you will find that had she fallen in
your way _unintroduced_, she would have recommended herself to your
liking. [The lady in question was Miss Appleton, of Boston, afterwards
Mrs. Robert Mackintosh, whose charming sister, cut off by too sad and
premature a doom, was the wife of the poet Longfellow.]

And now, what shall I tell you? After so long a silence, I suppose you
think I ought to have plenty to say, yet I have not. What should a woman
write about, whose sole occupations are eating, drinking, and sleeping;
whose pleasures consist in nursing her baby, and playing with a brace of
puppies; and her miseries in attempting to manage six republican
servants--a task quite enough to make any "Quaker kick his mother," a
grotesque illustration of demented desperation, which I have just
learned, and which is peculiarly appropriate in these parts? Can I find
it in my conscience, or even in the nib of my pen, to write you all
across the great waters that my child has invented two teeth, or how
many pounds of tea, sugar, flour, etc., etc., I distribute weekly to the
above-mentioned household of unmanageables? To write, as to speak, one
should have something to say, and I have literally nothing, except that
I am well in mind, body, and estate, and hope you are so too.

Our summer has been detestable: if America had the grace to have fairies
(but they don't cross the Atlantic), I should think the little Yankee
Oberon and Titania had been by the ears together: such wintry squalls!
such torrents of rain! The autumn, however, has been fine, and we spent
part of it in one of the most charming regions imaginable.

A "Happy Valley" indeed!--the Valley of the Housatonic, locked in by
walls of every shape and size, from grassy knolls to bold basaltic
cliffs. A beautiful little river wanders singing from side to side in
this secluded Paradise, and from every mountain cleft come running
crystal springs to join it; it looks only fit for people to be baptized
in (though I believe the water is used for cooking and washing

In one part of this romantic hill-region exists the strangest worship
that ever the craving need of religious excitement suggested to the
imagination of human beings.

I do not know whether you have ever heard of a religious sect called the
Shakers; I never did till I came into their neighborhood: and all that
was told me before seeing them fell short of the extraordinary effect of
the reality. Seven hundred men and women, whose profession of religion
has for one of its principal objects the extinguishing of the human race
and the end of the world, by devoting themselves and persuading others
to celibacy and the strictest chastity. They live all together in one
community, and own a village and a considerable tract of land in the
beautiful hill country of Berkshire. They are perfectly moral and
exemplary in their lives and conduct, wonderfully industrious,
miraculously clean and neat, and incredibly shrewd, thrifty and

Their dress is hideous, and their worship, to which they admit
spectators, consists of a fearful species of dancing, in which the
whole number of them engage, going round and round their vast hall
or temple of prayer, shaking their hands like the paws of a dog
sitting up to beg, and singing a deplorable psalm-tune in brisk jig
time. The men without their coats, in their shirt-sleeves, with
their lank hair hanging on their shoulders, and a sort of loose
knee-breeches--knickerbockers--have a grotesque air of stage Swiss
peasantry. The women without a single hair escaping from beneath their
hideous caps, mounted upon very high-heeled shoes, and every one of them
with a white handkerchief folded napkin-fashion and hanging over her
arm. In summer they all dress in white, and what with their pale,
immovable countenances, their ghost-like figures, and ghastly, mad
spiritual dance, they looked like the nuns in "Robert the Devil,"
condemned, for their sins in the flesh, to post-mortem decency and
asceticism, to look ugly, and to dance like ill-taught bears.

The whole exhibition was at once so frightful and so ludicrous, that I
very nearly went off into hysterics, when I first saw them.

We shall be in London, I hope, in the beginning of May next year, when I
trust you will be there also, when I will edify you with all my new
experiences of life, in this "other world," and teach you how to dance
like a Shaker. Be a good Christian, forgive me, and write to me again,
and believe me,

                              Yours truly,
                                                                F. A. B.

                                            BRANCHTOWN, June 27th, 1835.

... Did I tell you that the other day our farmer's wife sent me word
that she had seen me walking in the garden in a gown that she had liked
very much, and wished I would let her have the pattern of it? This
message surprised me a little, but, upon due reflection, I carried the
gown down to her with an agreeable sense of my own graceful
condescension. My farmer's wife gave me small thanks, and I am sure
thought I had done just what I ought....

I have resumed my riding, and am beginning to feel once more like my
unmarried self. I may have told you that I had some time ago a pretty
thoroughbred mare, spirited and good tempered too; but she turned out
such an inveterate stumbler that I have been obliged to give up riding
her, as, of course, my neck is worth more to me even than my health. So,
this morning I have been taking a most delectable eight miles' trot upon
a huge, high, heavy carriage-horse, who all but shakes my soul out of
my body, but who is steady upon his legs, and whom I shall therefore
patronize till I can be more _genteelly_ mounted with safety.

You bid me study Natural Philosophy ... and ask me what I read; but
since my baby has made her entrance into the world, I neither read,
write, nor cast up accounts, but am as idle, though not nearly as well
dressed, as the lilies of the field; my reading, if ever I take to such
an occupation again, is like, I fear, to be, as it always has been,
rambling, desultory, and unprofitable....

Come, I will take as a sample of my studies, the books just now lying on
my table, all of which I have been reading lately: Alfieri's Life, by
himself, a curious and interesting work; Washington Irving's last book,
"A Tour on the Prairies," rather an ordinary book, upon a not ordinary
subject, but not without sufficiently interesting matter in it too; Dr.
Combe's "Principles of Physiology"; and a volume of Marlowe's plays,
containing "Dr. Faustus." I have just finished Hayward's Translation of
Goethe's "Faust," and wanted to see the old English treatment of the
subject. I have read Marlowe's play with more curiosity than pleasure.
This is, after all, but a small sample of what I read; but if you
remember the complexion of my studies when I was a girl at Heath Farm,
and read Jeremy Taylor and Byron together, I can only say they are still
apt to be of the same heterogeneous quality. But my brain is kept in a
certain state of activity by them, and that, I suppose, is one of the
desirable results of reading. As for writing anything, or things--good
gracious! no, I should think not indeed! It is true, if you allude to
the mechanical process of caligraphy, here is close to my elbow a big
book, in which I enter all passages I meet with in my various readings
tending to elucidate obscure parts of the Bible: I do not mean disputed
points of theology, mysteries, or significations more or less mystical,
but simply any notices whatever which I meet with relating to the
customs of the Jews, their history, their language, the natural features
of their country; and so bearing upon my reading of passages in the Old
Testament. I read my Bible diligently every day, and every day wish more
and more earnestly that I understood what I was reading; but Philip does
not come my way, or draw near and join himself to me as I sit in my

I mean this with regard to the Old Testament only, however. The life of
Christ is that portion of the New alone vitally important to me, and
that, thank God, is comparatively comprehensible.

I have just finished writing a long and vehement treatise against negro
slavery, which I wanted to publish with my Journal, but was obliged to
refrain from doing so, lest our fellow-citizens should tear our house
down, and make a bonfire of our furniture--a favorite mode of
remonstrance in these parts with those who advocate the rights of the
unhappy blacks.

You know that the famous Declaration of Independence, which is to all
Americans what Moses commanded God's Law to be to the Israelites, begins
thus: "Whereas all men are born free and equal." Somebody, one day,
asked Jefferson how he reconciled that composition of his to the
existence of slavery in this country; he was completely surprised for a
moment by the question, and then very candidly replied, "By God! I never
thought of that before."

To proceed with a list of my _works_. Here is an article on the writings
of Victor Hugo, another on an American book called "Confessions of a
Poet," a whole heap of verses, among which sundry doggerel epistles to
you; and last, not least, the present voluminous prose performance for
your benefit.

These are some of my occupations: then I do a little housekeeping; then
I do, as the French say, a little music; then I waste a deal of time in
feeding and cleaning a large cageful of canary-birds, of which, as the
pleasure is mine, I do not choose to give the rather disgustful trouble
to any one else; strolling round the garden, watching my bee-hives,
which are full of honey just now; every chink and cranny of the day
between all this desultoriness, is filled with "the baby"; and _study_,
of every sort (but that most prodigious study of any sort, _i.e._, "the
baby,") seems further off from me than ever....

I am looking forward with great pleasure to a visit we intend paying
Miss Sedgwick in September. She is a dear friend of mine, and I am very
happy when with her.

And where will you be next spring, wanderer? for we shall surely be in
England. [Miss St. Leger and Miss Wilson were wintering at Nice for the
health of the latter.] Will you not come back from the ends of the earth
that I may not find the turret-chamber empty, and the Dell without its
dear mistress at Ardgillan?

Dear H----, I shall surely see you, if I live, in less than a year, when
we shall have so much to say to each other that we shall not know where
to begin, and had better not begin, perhaps; for we shall know still
less where to stop.

                              Ever affectionately yours,
                                                                F. A. B.

                                         BRANCHTOWN, October 31st, 1835.

I wonder where this will find you, and how long it will be before it
does so. I have been away from home nearly a month, and on my return
found a long letter from you waiting for me.... I cannot believe that
women were intended to suffer as much as they do, and be as helpless as
they are, in child-bearing. In spite of the third chapter of Genesis, I
cannot believe [the beneficent action of ether had not yet mitigated the
female portion of the primeval curse] that all the agony and debility
attendant upon the entrance of a new creature into life were ordained;
but rather that both are the consequences of our many and various abuses
of our constitutions, and infractions of God's natural laws.

The mere items of tight stays, tight garters, tight shoes, tight
waistbands, tight arm-holes, and tight bodices,--of which we are
accustomed to think little or nothing, and under the bad effects of
which, most young women's figures are suffered to attain their growth,
both here and in civilized Europe,--must have a tendency to injure
irreparably the compressed parts, to impede circulation and respiration,
and in many ways which we are not aware of, as well as by the more
obvious evils which they have been proved to produce, destroy the health
of the system, affect disastrously all its functions, and must aggravate
the pains and perils of child-bearing.... Many women here, when they
become mothers, seem to lose looks, health, and strength, and are mere
wrecks, libels upon the great Creator's most wonderful contrivance, the
human frame, which, in their instance, appears utterly unfit for the
most important purpose for which He designed it. Pitiable women!
comparatively without enjoyment or utility in existence. Of course, this
result is attributable to many various causes, and admits of plenty of
individual exceptions, but I believe tight-lacing, want of exercise, and
a perpetual inhaling of over-heated atmosphere, to be among the
former.... They pinch their pretty little feet cruelly, which certainly
need no such _embellishment_, and, of course, cannot walk; and if they
did, in the state of compression to which they submit for their beauty's
sake, would suffer too much inconvenience, if not pain, to derive any
benefit from exercise under such conditions....

When one thinks of the tragical consequences of all this folly, one is
tempted to wish that the legislature would interfere in these matters,
and prevent the desperate injury which is thus done to the race. The
climate, which is the general cause assigned for the want of health of
the American women, seems to me to receive more than its due share of
blame. The Indian women, the squaws, are, I believe, remarkable for the
ease with which they bear their children, the little pain they suffer
comparatively, and the rapidity with which they regain their strength;
but I think in matters of diet, dress, exercise, regularity in eating,
and due ventilation of their houses, the Americans have little or no
regard for the laws of health; and all these causes have their share in
rendering the women physically incapable of their natural work, and
unequal to their natural burdens.

What a chapter on American female health I have treated you to!...
Sometimes I write to you what I think, and sometimes what I do, and
still it seems to me it is the thing I have not written about which you
desire to know.... You ask if I am going through a course of
Channing,--not precisely, but a course of Unitarianism, for I attend a
Unitarian Church. I did so at first by accident (is there such a
thing?), being taken thither by the people to whom I now belong, who are
of that mode of thinking and have seats in a church of that
denomination, and where I hear admirable instruction and exhortation,
and eloquent, excellent preaching, that does my soul good.... I am
acquainted with several clergymen of that profession, who are among the
most enlightened and cultivated men I have met with in this country. Of
course, these circumstances have had some effect upon my mind, but they
have rather helped to develop, than positively cause, the result you
have observed....

In reading my Bible--my written rule of life--I find, of course, much
that I have no means of understanding, and much that there are no means
of understanding, matters of faith.... Doctrinal points do not seem to
me to avail much here: how much they may signify hereafter, who can
tell? But the daily and hourly discharge of our duties, the purity,
humanity, and activity of our lives, do avail much here; all that we can
add to our own worth and each other's happiness is of evident, palpable,
present avail, and I believe will prove of eternal avail to our souls,
who may carry hence all they have gained in this mortal school to as
much higher, nobler, and happier a sphere as the just judgment of
Almighty God shall after death promote them to....

I have been for the last two days discharging a most vexatious species
of duty--vexatious, to be sure, chiefly from my own fault. We have a
household of six servants, and no housekeeper (such an official being
unknown in these parts); a very abundant vegetable garden, dairy, and
poultry-yard; but I have been very neglectful lately of all domestic
details of supply from these various sources, and the consequences have
been manifold abuses in the kitchen, the pantry, and the store-room;
and disorder and waste, more disgraceful to me, even, than to the people
immediately guilty of them. And I have been reproaching myself, and
reproving others, and heartily regretting that, instead of Italian and
music, I had not learned a little domestic economy, and how much bread,
butter, flour, eggs, milk, sugar, and meat ought to be consumed per week
in a family of eight persons, not born ogres.... I am sorry to find that
my physical courage has been very much shaken by my confinement. Whereas
formerly I scarcely knew the sensation of fear, I have grown almost
cowardly on horseback or in a carriage. I do not think anybody would
ever suspect that to be the case, but I know it in my secret soul, and
am much disgusted with myself in consequence.... Our horses ran away
with the carriage the other day, and broke the traces, and threatened us
with some frightful catastrophe. I had the child with me, and though I
did not lose my wits at all, and neither uttered sound nor gave sign of
my terror, after getting her safely out of the carriage and alighting
myself I shook from head to foot, for the first time in my life, with
fear; and so have only just attained my full womanhood: for what says

    "A woman naturally born to fears."

... God bless you, dearest friend.

                              I am ever yours affectionately,
                                                                F. A. B.

... I was at first a little disappointed that my baby was not a
man-child, for the lot of woman is seldom happy, owing principally, I
think, to the many serious mistakes which have obtained universal sway
in female education. I do not believe that the just Creator intended one
part of his creatures to lead the sort of lives that many women do....
In this country the difficulty of giving a girl a good education is even
greater, I am afraid, than with us, in some respects. I do not think
even accomplishments are well taught here; at least, they seem to me for
the most part very flimsy, frivolous, and superficial, poor alike both
in quality and quantity. More solid acquirements do not abound among my
female acquaintance either, and the species of ignorance one encounters
occasionally is so absolute and profound as to be almost amusing, and
quite curious; while there is, also, quite enough native shrewdness,
worldly acuteness, and smattering of shallow superficial reading, to
produce a result which is worthless and vulgar to a pitiable degree. Of
course there are exceptions to this narrowness and aridity of
intellectual culture, but either they are really rare exceptions, or I
have been especially unfortunate....

My dear Dorothy, this letter was begun three months ago; I mislaid it,
and in the vanity of my imagination, believed that I had finished and
sent it; and lo! yesterday it turns up--a fragment of which the Post
Office is still innocent: and after all, 'tis a nonsense letter, to send
galloping the wild world over after you. It seems hardly worth while to
put the poor empty creature to the trouble of being sea-sick, and going
so far. However, I know it will not be wholly worthless to you if it
brings you word of my health and happiness, both of which are as good as
any reasonable human mortal can expect....

Kiss dear Harriet for me, and believe me,

                              Very affectionately yours,
                                                                F. A. B.

                                            BRANCHTOWN, March 1st, 1836.
  DEAREST H----,

Are you conjecturing as to the fate of three letters which you have
written to me from the Continent? all of which I have duly received, I
speak it with sorrow and shame; and certainly 'tis no proof that my
affection is still the same for you, dear H----, that I have not been
able to rouse myself to the effort of writing to you.... You will ask if
my baby affords me no employment? Yes, endless in prospect and theory,
dear H----; but when people talk of a baby being such an "occupation,"
they talk nonsense, such an _idleness_, they ought to say, such an
interruption to everything like reasonable occupation, and to any
conversation but baby-talk....

You ask of my society. I have none whatever: we live six miles from
town, on a road almost impracticable in the fairest as well as the
foulest weather, and though people occasionally drive out and visit me,
and I occasionally drive in and return their calls, and we
semi-occasionally, at rare intervals, go in to the theatre, or a dance,
I have no friends, no intimates, and no society.

Were I living in Philadelphia, I should be but little better off; for
though, of course, there, as elsewhere, the materials for good society
exist, yet all the persons whom I should like to cultivate are
professionally engaged, and their circumstances require, apparently,
that they should be so without intermission; and they have no time, and,
it seems, but little taste for social enjoyment.

There is here no rich and idle class: there are two or three rich and
idle individuals, who have neither duties nor influence peculiar to
their position, which isolates without elevating them; and who, as might
be expected in such a state of things, are the least respectable members
of the community. The only unprofessional man that I know in
Philadelphia (and he studied, though he does not practice, medicine) who
is also a person of literary taste and acquirement, has lamented to me
that all his early friends and associates having become absorbed in
their several callings, whenever he visits them he feels that he is
diverting them from the labor of their lives, and the earning of their
daily bread.

No one that I belong to takes the slightest interest in literary
pursuits; and though I feel most seriously how desirable it is that I
should study, because I positively languish for intellectual activity,
yet what would under other circumstances be a natural pleasure, is apt
to become an effort and a task when those with whom one lives does not
sympathize with one's pursuits.... Without the stimulus of example,
emulation, companionship, or sympathy, I find myself unable to study
with any steady purpose; however, in the absence of internal vigor, I
have borrowed external support, and on Monday next I am going to begin
to read Latin with a master.... Any pursuit to which I am compelled will
be very welcome to me, and I have chosen that in preference to German,
as mentally more bracing, and therefore healthier.

I have already described what calls itself my garden here--three acres
of kitchen-garden, and a quarter of an acre of flower-garden, divided
into three straight strips, bordered with mangy box, and separated from
the vegetables by a white-washed paling. I am the more provoked with
this, because there are certain capabilities about the place; money is
spent in keeping it up, and three men, entitled gardeners, are
constantly at work on it; and it is not want of means, but of taste and
knowledge and care, that makes it what it is. The piece of coarse grass
dignified by the name of a lawn, in front of the house, is mowed twice
in the whole course of the summer; of course, during the interval, it
looks as if we were raising a crop of poor hay under our drawing-room
windows. However, the gardening of Heaven is making the whole earth
smile just now; and the lights and shadows of the sky, and wild flowers
and verdure of the woods are beneficently beautiful, and make my spirit
sing for joy, in spite of the little that men have done here gratefully
to improve Heaven's gifts. This is not audacious, for Adam and Eve
landscape-gardened in Paradise, you know; and I wish some little of
their craft were to be found among their descendants hereabouts.

My paper is at an end: do I tell you "nothing of my mind and soul"?
What, then, is all this that I have been writing? Is it not telling you
more than if I were to attempt to detail to you methodically,
circumstantially (and perhaps unconsciously quite falsely), the state of

I am expecting a visit from Dr. Channing, whom I love and revere. After
reading a sermon of his before going to bed the other night, I dreamt
towards morning that I was in Heaven, from whence I was literally pulled
down and awakened to get up and go to church, which, you will allow, was
a ridiculous instance of bathos and work of supererogation. But, dear
me, that dream was very pleasant! Rising, and rising, and rising, into
ever-increasing light and space, not with effort and energy, as if
flying, but calmly and steadily soaring, as if one's _property_ was to
float upwards, _mounting eternally_. I send you my dream across the
Atlantic; there is something of my "mind and soul" in that.

God bless you, dear.

                              Ever affectionately yours,
                                                                F. A. B.

    [After my first introduction to Dr. Channing, I never was within
    reach of him without enjoying the honor of his intercourse and the
    privilege of hearing him preach. I think he was nowhere seen or
    heard to greater advantage than at his cottage near Newport, in the
    neighborhood of which a small church afforded the high advantage of
    his instruction to a rural congregation, as different as possible
    from the highly cultivated Bostonians who flocked to hear him
    whenever his state of health permitted him to preach in the city.

    King's Chapel, as it originally was called, dating back to days when
    the colony of Massachusetts still acknowledged a king, was dedicated
    at first to the Episcopal service of the Church of England, and I
    believe the English Liturgy in some form was the only ritual used in
    it. But when I first went to America, Boston and the adjacent
    College, Cambridge, were professedly Unitarian, and the service in
    King's Chapel was such a modification of the English Liturgy as was
    compatible with that profession: a circumstance which enabled its
    frequenters to unite the advantage of Dr. Channing's eloquent
    preaching with the use of that book of prayer and praise unsurpassed
    and unsurpassable in its simple sublimity and fervid depth of

    I retain a charmingly comical remembrance of the last visit I paid
    Dr. Channing, at Newport; when, wishing to take me into his garden,
    and unwilling to keep me waiting while he muffled himself up,
    according to his necessary usual precautions, he caught up Mrs.
    Channing's bonnet and shawl, and sheltering his eyes from the glare
    of the sun by pulling the bonnet well down over his nose, and
    folding the comfortable female-wrap (it was a genuine woman's-shawl,
    and not an ambiguous plaid of either or no sex) well over his
    breast, he walked round and round his garden, in full view of the
    high-road, discoursing with the peculiar gentle solemnity and
    deliberate eloquence habitual to him, on subjects the gravity of
    which was in laughable contrast with his costume, the absurdity of
    which only made me smile when it recurred to my memory, after I had
    taken leave of him and ceased hearing his wise words.]


... There is one interest and occupation of an essentially practical
nature, such as would give full scope to the most active energies and
intellect, in which I am becoming passionately interested,--I mean the
cause of the Southern negroes.

We live by their labor; and though the estate is not yet ours (elder
members of the family having a life interest in it), it will be our
property one day, and a large portion of our income is now derived from

I was told the other day, that the cotton lands in Georgia, where our
plantation is situated, were exhausted; but that in Alabama there now
exist wild lands along the Mississippi, where any one possessing the
negroes necessary to cultivate them, might, in the course of a few
years, realize an enormous fortune; and asked, jestingly, if I should be
willing to go thither. I replied, in most solemn earnest, that I would
go with delight, if we might take that opportunity of at once placing
our slaves upon a more humane and Christian footing. Oh, H----! I can
not tell you with what joy it would fill me, if we could only have the
energy and courage, the humanity and justice, to do this: and I believe
it might be done.

Though the blacks may not be taught to read and write, there is no law
which can prevent one from living amongst them, from teaching them
all--and how much that is!--that personal example and incessant personal
influence can teach. I would take them there, and I would at once
explain to them my principles and my purpose: I would tell them that in
so many years I expected to be able to free them, but that those only
should be liberated whose conduct I perceived during that time would
render their freedom prosperous to themselves, and safe to the
community. In the mean time I would allot each a profit on his labor; I
would allow them leisure and property of their own; I would establish a
Savings Bank for them, so that at the end of their probation, those into
whom I had been able to instill industrious and economical habits should
be possessed of a small fund wherewith to begin the world; I would
remain there myself always, and, with God's assistance and blessing, I
do believe a great good might be done. How I wish--oh, how I wish we
might but make the experiment! I believe in my soul that this is our
peculiar duty in life. We all have some appointed task, and assuredly it
can never be that we, or any other human beings were created merely to
live surrounded with plenty, blessed with every advantage of worldly
circumstance, and the ties of happy social and domestic relations,--it
cannot be that anybody ought to have all this, and yet do nothing for
it; nor do I believe that any one's duties are bounded by the
half-animal instincts of loving husband, wife, or children, and the
negative virtue of wronging no man: besides we _are_ villainously
wronging many men.... What would I not give to be able to awaken in
others my own feeling of this heavy responsibility!

I have just done reading Dr. Channing's book on slavery; it is like
everything else of his, written in the pure spirit of Christianity, with
judgment, temper and moderation, yet with abundant warmth and energy. It
has been answered with some cleverness, but in a sneering, satirical
tone, I hear. I have not yet read this reply, but intend doing so;
though it matters little what is said by the defenders of such a system:
truth is God, and must prevail.

Enough of this side of the water. Your wanderings abroad, dear H----,
created a feeling of many mingled melancholies in my mind: in the first
place, you are so very, very far off, the dead seem scarcely further;
perhaps they indeed are nearer to us, for I believe we are surrounded by
"a cloud of witnesses." Your description of those southern lands is sad
to me. I have always had a passionate yearning for those regions where
man has been so glorious, and Nature is so still. I thought of your
various emotions at my uncle's grave at Lausanne. Life seems to me so
strange, that the chain of events which forms even the most commonplace
existence has, in its unexpectedness, something of the marvelous.

I rejoice that dear Dorothy is benefited by your traveling, and pray
for every blessing on you both. As to the possibility of my coming to
England and not finding you there, my dear H----; I can say nothing and
you must do what you think right.

God bless you.

                              I am ever yours,
                                                                F. A. B.

    [The ideas and expectations, with which I entered upon my Northern
    country life, near Philadelphia, were impossible of fulfillment, and
    simply ridiculous under the circumstances. Those with which I
    contemplated an existence on our Southern estate, or the new one
    suggested in this letter, in the State of Alabama, were not only
    ridiculously impossible, but would speedily have found their only
    result in the ruin, danger, and very probably death, of all
    concerned in the endeavor to realize them.

    The laws of the Southern States would certainly have been
    forestalled by the speedier action of lynch-law, in putting a stop
    to my experimental abolitionism. And I am now able to understand,
    and appreciate, what, when I wrote this letter, I had not the
    remotest suspicion of,--the amazement and dismay, the terror and
    disgust, with which such theories as those I have expressed in it
    must have filled every member of the American family with which my
    marriage had connected me; I must have appeared to them nothing but
    a mischievous madwoman.]

                                           BRANCHTOWN, March 28th, 1836.

You say that thinking of you makes me fancy that I have written to you:
not quite so, for no day passes with me without many thoughts of you,
and I certainly am well aware that I do not write to you daily.... But,
dearest H----, once for all, believe this: whether I am silent
altogether, or simply unsatisfactory in my communications, I love you
dearly, and hope for a happier intercourse with you,--if never
here--hereafter, in that more perfect state, where, endowed with higher
natures, our communion with those we love will, I believe, be infinitely
more intimate than it can be here, subject as it is to all the
imperfections of our present existence.

You laugh at me for what you consider my optimism, my incredulity with
regard to the evils of this present life, and seem to think I am making
out a case of no little absurdity in ascribing so much of what we suffer
to ourselves. But I do not think my view of the matter is altogether
visionary. Even from disease and death, those stern and inexorable
conditions of our present state, spring, as from bitter roots, some of
the sweetest virtues of which our nature is capable; and I do not
believe it to be the great and good God's appointment that the earth
should be loaded as it is with barren suffering and sorrow. And as to
believing that women were intended to lead the helpless, ailing, sickly,
unprofitable, and unpleasurable lives, which so many of them seem to
lead in this country, I think it would be a direct libel on our Creator
to profess such a creed....

I walked into town, the other day, a distance of only six miles, and was
very much tired by the expedition: to be sure I am not a good walker,
riding being my _natural_ exercise, in which I persist, in spite of
stumbling and shying horses, high-roads three feet deep in dust, and
by-roads three feet deep in mud, at one and the same time. Taking
exercise has become, instead of a pleasure, a sometimes rather irksome
duty to me; a lonely ride upon a disagreeable horse not being a great
enjoyment; but I know that my health has its reward, and I persevere....

The death of an elderly lady puts us in possession of our property,
which she had held in trust during her life.... Increase of fortune
brings necessarily increased responsibility and occupation, and for that
I am not sorry, though the circumstance of the death of this relation,
of whom I knew and had seen but little, has been fruitful in
disappointments to me.... In the first place, I have been obliged to
forego a visit from my delightful friend, Miss Sedgwick, who was coming
to spend some time with me; this, in my lonely life, is a real
privation. In the next place, our proposed voyage to England is
indefinitely postponed, and from a thing so near as to be reckoned a
certainty (for we were to have sailed the 20th of next month), it has
withdrawn itself into the misty regions of a remote futurity, of the
possible events of which we cannot even guess....

We have had a most unprecedented winter; the cold has been dreadful, and
the snow, even now, in some places, lies in drifts from three to five
feet deep. There is no spring here; the winter is with us to-day, and
to-morrow the heat will be oppressive; and in a week everything will be
like summer, without the full-fledged foliage to temper the glare.

I have taken up your letter to see if there are any positive questions
in it, that I may not this time be guilty of not replying to you while I
answer it....

I do not give up my music quite, but generally, after dinner, pass an
hour at the piano, not so much from the pleasure it now gives me, as
from the conviction that it is wrong to give up even the smallest of
our resources; and also because, as wise Goethe says, "We are too apt to
suffer the mean things of life to overgrow the finer nature within us,
therefore it is expedient that at least once a day we read a little
poetry, or sing a song, or look at a picture." Upon this principle, I
still continue to play and sing sometimes, but no longer with any great
pleasure to myself.

Good-bye, dearest H----.... Oh, I should like to see you once again!

                              I am ever yours,
                                                                F. A. B.

                                            BRANCHTOWN, July 31st, 1836.

You ask me if I do not write anything; yes, sometimes reviews, for which
I am solicited. It is an occupation, but returns neither reputation, the
articles being anonymous; nor remuneration, as they are also gratuitous;
and I do it without much interest, simply not to be idle. As to anything
of more literary pretension, I never shall attempt it again: I do not
think nature intended mothers to be authors of anything but their
babies; because, as I told you, though a baby is not an "occupation," it
is an absolute hindrance to everything else that can be called so. I
cannot read a book through quietly for mine; judge, therefore, how
little likely I am to write one....

You ask me if I take no pleasure in gardening; and suggest the cutting
of carnations and raising of lettuce, as wholesome employments for me.
The kitchen-garden is really the only well-attended-to horticulture of
this place. The gardener raises early lettuces and cauliflowers in
frames, which remunerate him, either by their sale in market or by
prizes that he may obtain for them. His zeal in floriculture is less; as
you will understand, when I tell you that, discovering some early
violets blowing along a sunny wall in the kitchen-garden, and seizing
joyfully upon them, with reproaches to him for not having let me know
that there were any, he replied--"letting fall a lip of much
contempt,"--"Well, ma'am, I quite forgot them violets. You see, them
flowers is such frivolous creatures." Profane fellow!

I spend generally about three hours a day pottering in my garden, but,
alas! my gardening consists chiefly of slaughter. The heat of the
climate generates the most enormous quantity of insects, for the
effectual prevention or destruction of which the gardeners in these
parts have yet discovered no means. The consequence is that, in spite of
my daily executions, every shrub and every flower-bush is fuller of
_bugs_ (so they here indiscriminately term these displeasing beasts)
than of leaves. They begin by _eating up_ the roses bodily (these are
called distinctively, rose-bugs; of course, they have a pet name, but
it's Latin, and is only used by their familiars); they then attack and
devour the large white lilies, and honeysuckles; finally, they spread
themselves impartially all over the garden, and having literally
stripped that bare, are now attacking the fruit. It is an insect which I
have never seen in England; a species of beetle, much smaller, but not
unlike the cockchafer we are familiar with. Their number is really
prodigious, and they seem to me to propagate with portentous rapidity,
for every day, in spite of the sweeping made by the gardener and myself,
they appear as thick as ever. But for the dread of their coming in still
greater force next year, if we do not continue our work of
extermination, I should almost be tempted to give it up in despair.

I have a few flower-beds that I have had made, and keep under my own
especial care; also some pretty baskets, which I have had expressly
manufactured with exceeding difficulty; these, filled with earth, and
planted with roses, I have placed on the stumps of some large trees,
which were cut down last spring and form nice rustic pedestals; and thus
I contrive to produce something of an English garden effect. But the
climate is against me. The winter is so terribly cold that nothing at
all delicate can stand it unless cased up in straw-matting and manure.
We have, therefore, no evergreen shrubs, such as the lauristinus, and
Portugal and variegated laurels, which form our English garden
shrubberies; nor do they seem to replace these by the native growth of
their own woods, the kalmias and rhododendrons, but principally by hardy
evergreens of the fir and pine species, which are native and abundant
here. Then, with scarcely any interval of spring to moderate the sudden
extreme change, the winter becomes summer--summer, without its screen of
thick leaves to shelter one from the blazing, scorching heat. Everything
starts into bloom, as it were, at once; and, instead of lasting even
their proverbially short date of beauty, the flowers vanish as suddenly
as they appeared, under the fierce influence of the heat and the
devastations of the swarming insects it engenders.

To make up for this, I have here almost an avenue of fine lemon-trees,
in cases; humming-birds, which are a marvel and enchantment to me; and
fire-flies, which are exquisite in the summer evenings.

I have, too, a fine hive of bees, which has produced already this spring
two strong young swarms, whose departure from the parent hive formed a
very interesting event in my novel experiences; especially as one of
the stablemen, who joined the admiring domestic crowd witnessing the
process, proved to be endowed with the immunity some persons have from
the stings of those insects, and was able to take them by handfuls from
the tree where they were clinging, and put them on the stand where the
bee-hive prepared for them was placed. I had read of this individual
peculiarity with the incredulity of ignorance (incomparably stronger
than that of knowledge); but seeing is believing, and when my
fiery-haired Irish groom seized the bees by the handful, of course there
was no denying the fact.

There is a row of large old acacia-trees near the house, inhabited by
some most curious ants, who are gradually hollowing the trees out. I can
hear them at work as I stand by the poor vegetables, and the grass all
round is literally whitened with the fine sawdust made by these
hard-working little carpenters. The next phenomenon will be that the
trees will tumble on my head, while I am pursuing my entomological
studies. [To avert this catastrophe, the trees had all to be cut
down].... Dear H----, I never contemplated sacrificing my child's, or
anybody else's, health to my desire for "doing good." There is a
difference between living all the year round on a rice-swamp, and
retiring during the summer to the pinewood highlands, which are healthy,
even in the hot season; nor am I at all inclined to advocate the neglect
of duties close at hand for quixotical devotion to remote ones. But you
must remember that _we are slave owners_, and live by slave-labor, and
if the question of slavery does not concern us, in God's name whom does
it concern? In my conviction, that is _our_ special concern.... There is
a Convention about to meet at Harrisburg, the seat of Government of this
State, Pennsylvania, for the election of Van Buren, the Democratic
candidate for the Presidency....

The politics of this country are in a strange, uncertain state, but I
have left myself no room to enlarge upon them.

I have just finished reading Judge Talfourd's "Ion," and Lamartine's
"Pélérinage" to Palestine. God bless you, dearest H----.

                              Ever yours,
                                                                F. A. B.

    [Sydney Smith said that he never desired to live in a hot climate,
    as he disliked the idea of processions of ants traversing his bread
    and butter. The month of June had hardly begun in the year 1874,
    when I was residing close to the home of my early married life,
    Butler Place, when the ants appeared in such numbers in the
    dining-room sideboards, closets, cupboards, etc., that we were
    compelled to isolate all cakes, biscuits, sugar, preserves, fruit,
    and whatever else was kept in them, by placing the vessels
    containing all such things in dishes of water--moats, in fact, by
    which the enemy was cut off from these supplies. Immediately to
    these succeeded swarms of fire-flies, beautiful and wonderful in
    their evening apparition of showers of sparks from every bush and
    shrub, and after sunset rising in hundreds from the grass, and
    glittering against the dark sky as if the Milky Way had gone mad and
    taken to dancing; but even these shining creatures were not pleasant
    in the house by day, where they were merely like ill-shaped ugly
    black flies. These were followed by a world of black beetles of
    every size and shape, with which our room was alive as soon as the
    lights were brought in the evening. Net curtains, and muslin
    stretched over wooden frames, and fixed like blinds in the
    window-sashes, did indeed keep out the poor mouthful of stifling air
    for which we were gasping, but did not exclude these intolerable
    visitors, who made their way in at every crack and crevice and
    momentarily opened door, and overran with a dreadful swiftness the
    floor of the room in every direction; occasionally taking to the
    more agreeable exercise of flying, at which, however, they did not
    seem quite expert, frequently tumbling down and struggling by twos
    and threes upon one's hair, neck, and arms, and especially attracted
    to unfortunate females by white or light-colored muslin gowns, which
    became perfect receptacles for them as they rushed and rattled over
    the matting. After the reign of the beetles came that of the flies,
    a pest to make easily credible the ancient story of the Egyptian
    plague. Every picture and looking-glass frame, every morsel of
    gilding, every ornamental piece of metal about the rooms, had to be
    covered, like the tarts in a confectioner's shop, with yellow gauze;
    whatever was not so protected--unglazed photographs, the surface of
    oil pictures, necessary memoranda, and papers on one's
    writing-table--became black with the specks and spots left by these
    creatures. Plates of fly-paper poison disfigured, to but small
    purpose, every room; and at evening, by candlelight, while one was
    reading or writing, the universal hum and buzz was amazing, and put
    one in mind of the--

        "Hushed by buzzing night-flies to thy slumber"

    of poor King Henry. The walls and ceiling of the servants' offices
    and kitchen, which at the beginning of the spring had been painted
    white, and were immaculate in their purity, became literally a
    yellow-brown coffee color, darkened all over with spots as black as
    soot, with the defilement of these torments, of which three and four
    dustpanfuls a day would be swept away dead without appreciably
    diminishing their number.

    These flies accompanied our whole summer, from June till the end of
    October. Before, however, the beginning of the latter month, the
    mosquitoes made their appearance; and though, owing to the peculiar
    dryness of the summer of 1874, they were much less numerous than
    usual, there came enough of them to make our days miserable and our
    nights sleepless.

    These are the common indoor insects of a common summer in this part
    of Pennsylvania, to which should be added the occasional visits of
    spiders of such dimensions as to fill me with absolute terror; I
    have, unfortunately, a positive physical antipathy to these
    strangely-mannered animals (the only resemblance, I fear, between
    myself and Charles Kingsley), some of whose peculiarities, besides
    their infinitely dexterous and deliberate processes for ensnaring
    their prey, make them unspeakably repulsive to me,--indeed, to a
    degree that persuades me that, at some former period of my
    existence, "which, indeed, I can scarcely remember," as Rosalind
    says, I must have been a fly who perished by spider-craft.

    It is not, however, only in these midland and comparatively warmer
    states of North America that this profusion of insect life is found;
    the heat of the summer, even in Massachusetts, is more than a match
    in its life-engendering force, for the destructive agency of the
    winter's cold; and in the woods, on the high hill-tops of Berkshire,
    spiders of the most enormous size abound. I found two on my own
    place, the extremities of whose legs could not be covered by a large
    inverted tumbler; one of these perfectly swarmed with parasitical
    small spiders, a most hideous object! and one day, on cutting down a
    hollow pine tree, my gardener called me to look at a perfect jet of
    white ants, which like a small fountain, welled up from the middle
    of the decayed stump, and flowed over it in a thick stream to the
    ground. As far north as Lenox, in Berkshire, the summer heat brings
    humming-birds and rattlesnakes; and of less deadly, but very little
    less disagreeable, serpent-beasts, I have encountered there no fewer
    than eight, in a short mile walk, on a warm September morning,
    genial even for snakes.

    The succession of creatures I have enumerated is the normal
    entomology of an average Pennsylvania summer. But there came a year,
    a horrible year, shortly before my last return to England, when the
    Colorado beetle (_alias_ potato-bug), having marched over the whole
    width of the continent, from the far West to the Atlantic
    sea-board, made its appearance in the neighborhood of Philadelphia.
    These loathsome creatures, varying in size from a sixpence to a
    shilling, but rather oval than round in shape, of a pinkish-colored
    flesh, covered with a variegated greenish-brown shell, came in such
    numbers that the paths in the garden between the vegetable beds
    seemed to _swim_ with them, and made me giddy to look at them. They
    devoured everything, beginning with the potatoes; and having
    devastated the fields and garden, betook themselves to swarming up
    the walls of the house, for what purpose they alone could tell--but
    didn't. In vain men with ladders went up and scraped them down into
    buckets of hot water; they seemed inexhaustible, and filled me with
    such disgust that I felt as if I must fly, and abandon the place to
    them. I do not think this pest lasted much more than a week; then,
    having devoured, they departed, still making towards the sea, and
    were described to me by a gentleman who drove along the road, as
    literally covering the highway, like a disbanded army. One's
    familiar sensations under this visitation were certainly "crawling
    and creeping"; it is a great pity that flying might not have been
    added to them.]

                                  BRANCHTOWN, Monday, August 29th, 1836.
  DEAREST H----,

You are in Italy! in that land which, from the earliest time I can
remember, has been the land of my dreams; and it seems strange to me
that you should be there, and I here; for when we were together the
realities of life, the matter-of-fact interests of every-day existence
always attracted your sympathies more than mine; nor do I remember ever
hearing you mention, with the longing which possessed me, Italy, or the
shores of the Mediterranean.... If, as I believe, there is a special
Providence in "the fall of a sparrow," then your and my whereabouts are
not the result of accidental circumstance, but the providential
appointment of God. Dearest H----, your life's lesson just now is to be
taught you through variety of scene, the daily intercourse of your most
precious friend [Miss Dorothy Wilson], and the beautiful and lofty
influences of the countries in which you are traveling and sojourning:
and mine is to be learnt from a page as different as the chapters of
Lindley Murray's Grammar are different from those of a glorious,
illuminated, old vellum book of legends. I not only believe through my
intuitive instincts, but also through my rational convictions, that my
own peculiar task is the wholesomest and best for me, and though I
might desire to be with you in Italy, I am content to be without you in
America.... How much all separation and disappointment tend to draw us
nearer to God! To me upon this earth you seem almost lost--you, and
those yet nearer and dearer to me than yourself; your very images are
becoming dim, and vague, and blurred in outline to my memory, like faded
pictures or worn-out engravings. I think of you all almost as of the
dead, and the feverish desire to be once more with you and them, from
which I have suffered sometimes, is gradually dying away in my heart;
and now when I think of any of you, my dear distant ones, it is as
folded with me together in our Heavenly Father's arms, watched over by
His care, guarded over by His merciful love, and though my imagination
no longer knows where to seek or find you on earth, I meet you under the
shadow of His Almighty Wings, and know that we are together--now--and

    [To those who know the rate of intercourse between Europe and
    America now, these expressions of the painful sense of distance from
    my country and friends, under which I suffered, must seem almost
    incomprehensible,--now, when to go to Europe seems to most Americans
    the easiest of summer trips, involving hardly more than a week's sea
    voyage; when letters arrive almost every other day by some of the
    innumerable steamers flying incessantly to and fro, and weaving,
    like living shuttles, the woof and warp of human communication
    between the continents; and the submarine telegraph shoots daily
    tidings from shore to shore of that terrible Atlantic, with swift
    security below its storms. But when I wrote this to my friend, no
    words were carried with miraculous celerity under the dividing
    waves; letters could only be received once a month, and from thirty
    to thirty-seven days was the average voyage of the sailing packets
    which traversed the Atlantic. Men of business went to and fro upon
    their necessary affairs, but very few Americans went to Europe, and
    still fewer Europeans went to America, to spend leisure, or to seek
    pleasure; and American and English women made the attempt still
    seldomer than the men. The distance between the two worlds, which
    are now so near to each other, was then immense.]

Let me answer your questions, dear H----; though when I strive most
entirely to satisfy you, I seem to have left out the very things you
wish to know....

I am reading Sir Thomas Browne's "Religio Medici." What charming old
English it is! How many fantastical and how many beautiful things there
are in it!

Yesterday I walked down, with a basket of cucumbers and some beautiful
flowers, to Mrs. F----'s, the wife of the Unitarian clergyman whose
church I attend, and who is an excellent and highly valued friend of
mine; and I sat two hours with her and another lady, going through an
interminable discussion on the subject of intellectual gifts: the very
various proportions in which they were distributed, and the measure of
consciousness of superiority which was inevitable, and therefore
allowable, in the possessor of an unusual amount of such endowments....

I wish Mr. and Mrs. F---- lived near me instead of being merely come to
spend a few weeks in this neighborhood.... I do not keep a diary any
more; I do not find chronicling my days helps me to live them, and for
many reasons I have given up my journal. Perhaps I may resume it when we
set out for the South....

We are now altogether proprietors of this place, and I really think, as
I am often told, that it is getting to be prettier and better kept than
any other in this neighborhood. It is certainly very much improved, and
no longer looks quite unlike an English place, but there are yet a
thousand things to be done to it, in the contemplation of which I try to
forget its present mongrel appearance.

Now, dear, I have answered as many of your questions as my paper allows.
Do not, I beseech you, send me back word that my letter was "thoroughly

God bless you.

                              I am ever your affectionate
                                                                F. A. B.

                                     BRANCHTOWN, Wednesday, October 5th.

It is a great disappointment to me that I am not going to the South this
winter. There is no house, it seems, on the plantation but a small
cottage, inhabited by the overseer, where the two gentlemen proprietors
can be accommodated, but where there is no room for me, my baby, and her
nurse, without unhousing the poor overseer and his family altogether.
The nearest town to the estate, Brunswick, is fifteen miles off, and a
wretched hole, where I am assured it will be impossible to obtain a
decent lodging for me, so that it has been determined to leave me and
baby behind, and the owner will go with his brother, but without us, on
his expedition to Negroland. As far as the child is concerned, I am well
satisfied; ... but I would undergo much myself to be able to go among
those people. I know that my hands would be in a great measure tied. I
certainly could not free them, nor could I even pay them for their
labor, or try to instruct them, even to the poor degree of teaching them
to read. But mere personal influence has a great efficiency; moral
revolutions of the world have been wrought by those who neither wrote
books nor read them; the Divinest Power was that of One Character, One
Example; that Character and Example which we profess to call our Rule of
life. The power of individual personal qualities is really the great
power, for good or evil, of the world; and it is upon this ground that I
feel convinced that, in spite of all the cunningly devised laws by which
the negroes are walled up in a mental and moral prison, from which there
is apparently no issue, the personal character and daily influence of a
few Christian men and women living among them would put an end to
slavery, more speedily and effectually than any other means whatever.

You do not know how profoundly this subject interests me, and engrosses
my thoughts: it is not alone the cause of humanity that so powerfully
affects my mind; it is, above all, the deep responsibility in which we
are involved, and which makes it a matter of such vital paramount
importance to me.... It seems to me that we are possessed of power and
opportunity to do a great work; how can I not feel the keenest anxiety
as to the use we make of this talent which God has entrusted us with? We
dispose of the physical, mental, and moral condition of some hundreds of
our fellow-creatures. How can I bear to think that this great occasion
of doing good, of dealing justly, of setting a noble example to others,
may be wasted or neglected by us? How can I bear to think that the day
will come, as come it surely must, when we shall say: We once had it in
our power to lift this burden from four hundred heads and hearts, and
stirred no finger to do it; but carelessly and indolently, or selfishly
and cowardly, turned our back upon so great a duty and so great a

I cannot utter what I feel upon this subject, but I pray to God to pour
His light into our hearts, and enable us to do that which is right.

In every point of view, I feel that we ought to embrace the cause of
these poor people. They will be free assuredly, and that before many
years; why not make friends of them instead of deadly enemies? Why not
give them at once the wages of their labor? Is it to be supposed that a
man will work more for fear of the lash than he will for the sake of an
adequate reward? As a matter of policy, and to escape personal violence,
or the destruction of one's property, it were well not to urge
them--ignorant, savage, and slavish, as they are--into rebellion. As a
mere matter of worldly interest, it would be wise to make it worth their
while to work with zeal and energy for hire, instead of listlessly
dragging their reluctant limbs under a driver's whip.

Oh, how I wish I was a man! How I wish I owned these slaves! instead of
being supported (disgracefully, as it seems to me) by their unpaid

You tell me, dear H----, that you are aged and much altered, and you
doubt if I should know you. That's a fashion of speech--you doubt no
such thing, and know that I should know you if your face were as red as
the fiery inside of Etna, and your hair as white as its snowy shoulders.

I have had the skin peeled off the back of my neck with standing in the
sun here, and my whole face and hands are burnt, by constant exposure,
to as fine a coffee-color as you would wish to see of a summer's day.
Yet, after all, I got as sharp a sunstroke on my shoulders, driving on a
coach-box by the side of Loch Lomond once, as could be inflicted upon me
by this American sky. The women here, who are careful, above all things,
of their appearance, marvel extremely at my exposing myself to the
horrors of tanning, freckling, etc.; but with hair and eyes as dark as
mine, a gipsy complexion doesn't signify, and I prefer burning my skin
to suffocating under silk handkerchiefs, sun-bonnets, and two or three
gauze veils, and sitting, as the ladies here do, in the dark till the
sun has declined. I am certainly more like a Red Indian squaw than when
last you saw me; but that change doesn't signify, it's only skin

You speak of the beauty of the Italian sky, and say that to pass the
mornings with such pictures, and the evenings with such sunsets, is
matter to be grateful for.

I have been spending a month with my friends, the Sedgwicks, in a
beautiful hilly region in the State of Massachusetts; and I never looked
abroad upon the woods and valleys and lakes and mountains without
thinking how great a privilege it was to live in the midst of such
beautiful things. I felt this the more strongly, perhaps, because the
country in my own neighborhood here is by no means so varied and

I am glad you are to have the pleasure of meeting your own people
abroad, and thus carrying your home with you: give my kindest love to
them all whenever you see them....

I have not been hot this summer: the weather has been rainy and cold to
a most uncommon degree; and I have rejoiced therefore, and so have the
trees and the grass, which have contrived to look green to the end of
the chapter, as with us....

If I am not allowed to go to the South this winter, it is just possible
that I may spend three months in England.

Good-bye, my dearest H----.

                              I am ever yours,
                                                                F. A. B.

    [This was the last letter I wrote to my friend from America this
    year; it was decided that I should not go to the South, and so
    lonely a winter as I should have had to spend in the country being
    rather a sad prospect, it was also decided that I should return to
    England, and remain during my temporary widowhood with my own family
    in London.

    I sailed at the beginning of November, and reached England, after a
    frightfully stormy passage of eight and twenty days. I and my
    child's nurse were the only women on board the packet, and there
    were very few male passengers. The weather was dreadful; we had
    violent contrary winds almost the whole time, and one terrific gale
    that lasted nearly four days; during which time I and my poor little
    child and her nurse were prisoners in the cabin, where we had not
    even the consolation of daylight, the skylights being all closely
    covered to protect us from the sea, which broke all over the decks.
    I begged so hard one day to have the covering removed, and a ray of
    daylight admitted, if only for five minutes, that I was indulged,
    and had reason to repent it; the sea almost instantly broke the
    windows and poured down upon us like Niagara, and I was thankful to
    be covered up again as quick as possible in dry darkness.

    This storm was made memorable to me by an experience of which I have
    read one or two descriptions, by persons who have been similarly
    affected in seasons of great peril, and which I have never ceased
    regretting that I did not make a record of as soon as possible; but
    the lapse of time, though it has no doubt enfeebled, has in no other
    way altered, the impressions I received.

    The tempest was the first I had ever witnessed, and was undoubtedly
    a more formidable one than I have ever since encountered in eighteen
    passages across the Atlantic. I was told, after it was over, that
    the vessel had sprung its mainmast--a very serious injury to a
    sailing ship, I suppose, by the mode in which it was spoken of; and
    for three days we were unable to carry any sail whatever for the
    fury of the wind.

    At the height of the storm, in the middle of a night which my
    faithful friend and servant, Margery O'Brien, passed in prayer,
    without once rising from her knees, the frightful uproar of the
    elements and the delirious plunging and rearing of the convulsed
    ship convinced me that we should inevitably be lost. As the vessel
    reeled under a tremendous shock, the conviction of our impending
    destruction became so intense in my mind, that my imagination
    suddenly presented to me the death-vision, so to speak, of my whole

    This kind of phenomenon has been experienced and recorded by persons
    who have gone through the process of drowning, and afterwards
    recovered; or have otherwise been in imminent peril of their lives,
    and have left curious and highly interesting accounts of their

    I should find it impossible adequately to describe the vividness
    with which my whole past life presented itself to my perception; not
    as a procession of events, filling a succession of years, but as a
    whole--a total--suddenly held up to me as in a mirror, indescribably
    awful, combined with the simultaneous acute and almost despairing
    sense of _loss_, of _waste_, so to speak, by which it was
    accompanied. This instantaneous, involuntary retrospect was followed
    by a keen and rapid survey of the religious belief in which I had
    been trained, and which then seemed to me my only important

    The tension, physical and mental, of the very short space of time in
    which these processes took place, gave way to a complete exhaustion,
    in which, strangely enough, I found the sort of satisfaction that a
    child does in crooning itself to sleep, in singing, one after
    another, every song I could call to memory; and my repertory was a
    very numerous one, composed of English, Scotch, Irish, Welsh,
    French, German, Italian, and Spanish specimens, which I "chanted
    loudly, chanted lowly," sitting on the floor, through the rest of
    the night, till the day broke, and my sense of danger passed away,
    but not the recollection of the never-to-be-forgotten experience it
    had brought to me.

    I have often since wondered if any number of men going into action
    on a field of battle are thus impressed. Several thousands of human
    beings, with the apparition of their past life thus suddenly
    confronting them, is not a bad suggestion of the Day of Judgment.

    I have heard it asserted that the experience I have here described
    was only that of persons who, in the full vigor of life and health,
    were suddenly put in peril of immediate death; and that whatever
    regret, repentance, or remorse might afflict the last moments of
    elderly persons, or persons prepared by previous disease for
    dissolution, this species of revelation, by the sudden glare of
    death, of the whole past existence was not among the phenomena of

    As a curious instance of the very mistaken inferences frequently
    drawn from our actions by others, when the storm had sufficiently
    subsided to allow of our very kind friend, the captain, leaving his
    post of vigilant watch on deck, to come and inquire after his poor
    imprisoned female passengers, he congratulated me upon my courage.
    "For," said he, "at the very height of the storm, I was told that
    you were heard singing away like a bird."

    I am not sure that I succeeded in making him understand that that
    was only because I had been as frightened as I was capable of being,
    and, having touched the extremest point of terror, I had subsided
    into a sort of ecstacy of imbecility, in     which I had found my
    "singing voice."

    I returned to my home and family, and stayed with them in London all
    the time of my visit to England, which, from unforeseen
    circumstances, was prolonged far beyond what had originally been

    I returned to the intercourse of all my former friends and
    acquaintance, and to the London society of the day, which was full
    of delightful interest for me, after the solitary and completely
    unsocial life I had been leading for the two previous years.

    My friend, Miss S----, was still abroad, and her absence was the
    only drawback to the pleasure and happiness of my return to my own

    My father resided then in Park Place, St. James's, in a house which
    has since become part of the Park Hotel; we have always had a
    tending towards that particular street, which undoubtedly is one of
    the best situated in London: quiet in itself, not being a
    thoroughfare, shut in by the pleasant houses that look into the
    Green Park below Arlington Street, and yet close to St. James's
    Street, and all the gay busyness of the West End, Pall Mall, and

    While we were living at No. 10 Park Place, my cousin, Horace Twiss,
    was our opposite neighbor, at No. 5, which became my own residence
    some years afterwards; and, since then, my sister had her London
    abode for several years at No. 9. The street seems always a sort of
    home to me, full of images and memories of members of my family and
    their intimates who visited us there.

    My return to London society at this time gave me the privilege of an
    acquaintance with some of its most remarkable members, many of whom
    became, and remained, intimate and kind friends of mine for many
    years. The Miss Berrys, Lady Charlotte Lindsay, Lady Morley, Lord
    and Lady Lansdowne, Lord and Lady Ellesmere, Lord and Lady Dacre,
    Sydney Smith, Rogers, were among the persons with whom I then most
    frequently associated; and in naming these members of the London
    world of that day, I mention only a small portion of a brilliant
    society, full of every element of wit, wisdom, experience, refined
    taste, high culture, good breeding, good sense, and distinction of
    every sort that can make human intercourse valuable and delightful.

    I was one of the youngest members of that pleasant society, and have
    seen almost all its brilliant lights go out. Eheu! of what has
    succeeded to them in the London of the present day, I know nothing.]

                           PARK PLACE, St. James's, December 28th, 1836.

Nevertheless, and in spite of all your doubts, and notwithstanding all
the improbabilities and all the impossibilities, here I am, dearest
H----, in very deed in England, and in London, once again. And shall it
be that I have crossed that terrible sea, and am to pass some time here,
and to return without seeing you? I cannot well fancy that. Surely, now
that the Atlantic is no longer between us, though the Alps may be, we
shall meet once more before I go back to my dwelling-place beyond the
uttermost parts of the sea. The absolute impossibility of taking the
baby to the South determined the arrangements that were made; and as I
was at any rate to be alone all the winter, I obtained leave to pass it
in England, whither I am come, alone with my chick, through tempestuous
turbulence of winds and waves, and where I expect to remain peaceably
with my own people, until such time as I am fetched away. When this may
be, however, neither I nor any one else can tell, as it depends upon the
meeting and sitting of a certain Convention, summoned for the revising
of the constitution of the State of Pennsylvania; and there is at
present an uncertainty as to the time of its opening. It was at first
appointed to convene on the 1st of May, and it was then resolved that I
should return early in March, so as to be in America by that time; but
my last news is that the meeting of the Convention may take place in
February, and my stay in England will probably be prolonged for several
months in consequence....

Your various propositions, regarding negro slavery in America, I will
answer when we meet, which I hope will be ere long.... I wish to heaven
I could have gone down to Georgia this winter!...

Your impression of Rome does not surprise me; I think it would be mine.
I have not seen dear Emily, but expect that pleasure in about a

My father took his farewell of the stage last Friday. How much I could
say upon that circumstance alone! The house was immensely full, the
feeling of regret and good-will universal, and our own excitement, as
you may suppose, very great. My father bore it far better than I had
anticipated, and his spirits do not appear to have suffered since; I
know not whether the reaction may not make itself felt hereafter.

Perhaps his present occupation of licenser may afford sufficient
employment of a somewhat kindred nature to prevent his feeling very
severely the loss of his professional excitement; and yet I know not
whether a sufficient _succedaneum_ is to be found for such a dram as
that, taken nightly for more than forty years....

Who do you think Adelaide and I went to dine with last Friday? You will
never guess, so I may as well tell you--the C----s! The meetings in this
world are strange things. She sought me with apparent cordiality, and I
had no reason whatever for avoiding her. She is very handsome, and
appears remarkably amiable, with the simple good breeding of a French
great lady, and the serious earnestness of a devout Roman Catholic. They
are going to Lisbon, where he is attaché to the Embassy.

I had a letter from Mr. Combe the other day, full of the books he had
been publishing, and the lectures he had been delivering. He seems to be
very busy, and very happy. [Mr. Combe had lately married my cousin,
Cecilia Siddons.] ...

Farewell, my dearest H----.

                              I am ever your most affectionate,
                                                                F. A. B.

                                PARK PLACE, ST. JAMES'S, May 13th, 1837.

You will never believe I am alive, not sooner to have answered your kind
letter; yet I was grateful for your expressions of regard, and truly
sorry for all you have had to undergo. Certainly the chances of this
life are strange--that you should be in Toronto, and I in London now, is
what neither of us would have imagined a little while ago.

I wish I could think you were either as happy or as well amused as I am.
I hope, however, you have recovered your health, and that you will be
able to visit some of the beautiful scenery of the St. Lawrence this
summer; that, at least, you may have some compensation for your effort
in crossing the Atlantic.

I heard of you from my friend, Miss Sedgwick, whose sympathies were as
much excited by your personal acquaintance as her admiration had been by
your books. I heard of you, too, from Theodore Fay, whom I saw a short
time since, and who gave me a letter of yours to read, which you wrote
him from New York. [Mr. Theodore Fay was a graceful writer of prose and
poetry, and achieved some literary reputation in his own country; he was
for some time United States Minister at Berlin.]

Lady Hatherton, whom I met the other evening at old Lady Cork's, was
speaking of you with much affection; and all your friends regret your
absence from England; and none more sincerely than I, who shall, I fear,
have the ill fortune to miss you on both sides of the Atlantic.

I find London more beautiful, more rich and royal, than ever; the latter
epithet, by-the-bye, applies to external things alone, for I do not
think the spirit of the people as royal, _i.e._, loyal, as I used to
fancy it was.

Liberalism appears to me to have gained a much stronger and wider
influence than it had before I went away; liberal opinions have
certainly spread, and I suppose will spread indefinitely. Toryism, on
the other hand, seems as steadfast in its old strongholds as ever; the
Tories, I see, are quite as wedded as formerly to their political faith,
but at the same time more afraid of all that is not themselves, more on
the defensive, more socially exclusive; I think they mix less with "the
other side" than formerly, and are less tolerant of difference of

I find a whole race of _prima donnas_ swept away; Pasta gone and
Malibran dead, and their successor, Grisi, does not charm and enchant me
as they did, especially when I hear her compared to the former noble
singer and actress. When I look at her, beautiful as she is, and think
of Pasta, and hear her extolled far above that great queen of song, by
the public who cannot yet have forgotten the latter, I am more than ever
impressed with the worthlessness of popularity and public applause, and
the mistake of those who would so much as stretch out their little
finger to obtain it. I came to England just in time to see my father
leave the stage, and close his laborious professional career. After a
long life of public exhibition, and the glare of excitement which
inevitably attends upon it, to withdraw into the sober twilight of
private life is a great trial, and I fear he finds it so. His health is
not as good as it was while he still exercised his profession, and I
think he misses the stimulus of the daily occupation and nightly

What a dangerous pursuit that is which weans one from all other
resources and interests, and leaves one dependent upon public exhibition
for the necessary stimulus of one's existence! This aspect of it alone
would make me deprecate that profession for any one I loved; it
interferes with every other study, and breaks the thread of every other
occupation, and produces mental habits which, even if distasteful at
first, gradually become paramount to all others, and, in due time,
inveterate; and besides perpetually stimulating one's personal vanity
and desire for admiration and applause, directs whatever ambition one
has to the least exalted of aims, the production of evanescent effects
and transitory emotions.

I am thankful that I was removed from the stage before its excitement
became necessary to me. That reminds me that, within the last two days,
Pasta has returned to England: they say she is to sing at Drury Lane,
Grisi having possession of the Opera House. Now, will it not be a pity
that she should come in the decline of her fine powers, and subject
herself to comparisons with this young woman, whose voice and beauty and
popularity are all in their full flower? If I knew Pasta, I think I
would go on my knees to beg her not to do it.

I find my sister's voice and singing very much improved, and exceedingly
charming. She speaks always with warm regard of you, and remembers
gratefully your kindness to her.

My dear Mrs. Jameson, it is a great disappointment to me that I cannot
welcome you to my American home, and be to you that pleasant thing, an
old friend in a foreign land. It appears to me that we shall have the
singular ill-luck of passing each other on the sea; at least, if it is
true that you return in the autumn.

Much as I had desired to see my own country again, my visit to it has
had one effect which I certainly had not anticipated, and for which I am
grateful: it has tended to reconcile me to my present situation in life,
comparatively remote as it is from the best refinements of civilization
and all the enjoyments of society.... The turmoil and dissipation of a
London life, amusing as they are for a time, soon pall upon one, and I
already feel, in my diminished relish for them, that I am growing old.

To live in the country in England!--that indeed would be happiness and
pleasure; but we shall never desert America and the duties that belong
to us there, and I should be the last person to desire that we should do
so; and so I think henceforth England and I are "Paradises Lost" to each
other,--and this is a very strange life; with which "wise saw," but not
"modern instance," I will conclude, begging you to believe me,

                              Ever yours most truly,
                                                                F. A. B.

    [Madame Pasta did return then to the stage, and her brilliant young
    rival, Grisi, was to her what the Giessbach would be to a great wave
    of the Atlantic. But, alas! she returned once more after that to the
    scene of her former triumphs in London; the power, majesty, and
    grace of her face, figure, and deportment all gone, her voice
    painfully impaired and untrue, her great art unable to remedy, in
    any degree, the failure of her natural powers.

    She came as an agent and emissary of the political party of Italian
    liberty, to help the cause of their _Italia Unita_, and our people
    received her with affectionate respect, for the sake of what she had
    been; but she accepted their applause with melancholy gestures of
    disclaimer, and sorrowful head-shaking over her own decline. Those
    who had never heard or seen her before were inclined to laugh; those
    who had, _did_ cry.

    The latent expression of a face is a curious study for the
    physiognomist, and is sometimes strikingly at variance with that
    which is habitual, as well as with the general character of the
    features. That fine and accurate observer of the symptoms of
    humanity, George Eliot, gives her silly, commonplace, little
    second-heroine in "Adam Bede," Hester, a pathetic and sentimental
    expression, to which nothing in her mind or character corresponds,
    and which must have been an inheritance from some ancestress in whom
    such an expression had originated with a meaning.

    Madame Pasta was not handsome, people of uneducated and unrefined
    taste might have called her plain; but she had that indescribable
    quality which painters value almost above all others--style, and a
    power and sweetness of expression, and a grandeur and grace of
    demeanor, that I have never seen surpassed. She was not handsome,
    certainly; but she was _beautiful_, and never, by any chance, looked
    common or vulgar.

    Madame Grisi was almost perfectly handsome; the symmetry of her head
    and bust, and the outline of her features resembled the ideal models
    of classical art--it was the form and face of a Grecian goddess; and
    her rare natural gifts of musical utterance and personal loveliness
    won for her, very justly, the great admiration she excited, and the
    popularity she so long enjoyed. In a woman of far other and higher
    endowments, that wonderful actress, Rachel, whose face and figure,
    under the transforming influence of her consummate dramatic art,
    were the perfect interpreters of her perfect tragic conceptions, an
    ignoble, low-lived expression occasionally startled and dismayed
    one, on a countenance as much more noble and intellectual, as it was
    less beautiful than Grisi's,--the outward and visible sign of the
    inward and spiritual disgrace, which made it possible for one of her
    literary countrymen and warmest admirers to say that she was
    adorable, because she was so "_déliceusement canaille_." Emilie,
    Camille, Esther, Pauline, such a "delightful blackguard"!

    Grazia, the Juno of the Roman sculptors of her day, their model of
    severe classical beauty, had a perfectly stolid absence of all
    expression; she was like one of the oxen of her own Campagna, a
    splendid, serious-looking animal. No animal is ever vulgar, except
    some dogs, who live too much with men for the interest of their
    dignity, and catch the infection of _the_ human vice.

    With us coarse-featured English, and our heavy-faced Teutonic
    kinsfolk, a thick outline and snub features are generally supposed
    to be the vulgar attributes of our lower classes; but the
    predominance of spirit over matter vindicates itself strikingly
    across the Atlantic, where, in the lowest strata of society, the
    native American rowdy, with a face as pure in outline as an ancient
    Greek coin, and hands and feet as fine as those of a Norman noble,
    strikes one dumb with the aspect of a countenance whose vile,
    ignoble hardness can triumph over such refinement of line and
    delicacy of proportion. A human soul has a wonderful supremacy over
    the matter which it _informs_. The American is a whole nation with
    well-made, regular noses; from which circumstance (and a few
    others), I believe in their future superiority over all other
    nations. But the _lowness_ their faces are capable of "flogs

                                           BANNISTERS, August 1st, 1837.

After a riotous London season, my family has broken itself into small
pieces and dispersed. My mother is at her cottage in Surrey, where she
intends passing the rest of the summer; my father and sister are gone to
Carlsbad--is not that spirited?--though indeed they journey in search of
health, rather than pleasure. My father has been far from well for some
time past, and has at length been literally packed off by Dr. Granville,
to try the Bohemian waters.

I am at present staying with my friends, the Fitz Hughs, at Bannisters.
I leave this place on Friday for Liverpool, where I shall await the
arrival of the American packet; after that, we have several visits to
pay, and I hope, when we have achieved them, to join my father and
Adelaide at Carlsbad. I am pretty sure that we shall winter in America;
for, indeed, I was to have written to you, to beg you to spend that
season with us in Philadelphia, but as I had already received your
intimation of your intended return to England in the autumn, I knew
that such an offer would not suit your plans.

How glad you will be to see England again! and how glad your friends
will be to see you again! Miss Martineau, who was speaking of you with
great kindness the other day, added that your publishers would rejoice
to see you too.

I do not know whether her book on America has yet reached you. It has
been universally read, and though by no means agreeable to the opinions
of the majority, I think its whole tone has impressed everybody with
respect for her moral character, her integrity, her benevolence, and her

She tells me she is going to publish another work upon America,
containing more of personal narrative and local description; after
which, I believe, she thinks of writing a novel. I shall be quite
curious to see how she succeeds in the latter undertaking. The stories
and descriptions of her political tales were charming; but whether she
can carry herself through a work of imagination of any length with the
same success, I do not feel sure.

I saw the Montagues, and Procters, and Chorley (who is, I believe, a
friend of yours), pretty often while I was in London, and they were my
chief informers as to your state of being, doing, and suffering. I am
sorry that the latter has formed so large a portion of your experience
in that strange and desolate land of your present sojourn. You do not
say in your last letter whether you intend visiting the United States
before your return, or shall merely pass through so much of them as will
bring you to the port from which you sail. As I am not there to see you,
I should hardly regret your not traveling through them; for, in spite of
your popularity, which is very great in all parts of the country that I
have visited, I do not think American tastes, manners, and modes of
being would be, upon the whole, congenial to you.

I believe I told you how I had met your friend, Lady Hatherton, at a
party at old Lady Cork's, and how kindly she inquired after you....

We are here in the midst of the elections, with which the whole country
is in an uproar just now. My friends are immovable Tories, and I had the
satisfaction of being personally hissed (which I never was before), in
honor of their principles, as I drove through the town of Southampton
to-day in their carriage.

The death of poor old King William, and the accession of the little
lady, his niece, must be stale news, even with you, now. She was the
last excitement of the public before the "dissolution of London," and
her position is certainly a most interesting one. Poor young creature!
at eighteen to bear such a burden of responsibility! I should think the
mere state and grandeur, and slow-paced solemnity of her degree, enough
to strike a girl of that age into a melancholy, without all the other
graver considerations and causes for care and anxiety which belong to
it. I dare say, whatever she may think now, before many years are over
she would be heartily glad to have a small pension of £30,000 a year,
and leave to "go and play," like common folk of fortune. But, to be
sure, if "_noblesse oblige_," royalty must do so still more, or, at any
rate, on a wider scale; and so I take up my burden again--poor young
Queen of England!...

Emily sends you her best remembrances.... We shall certainly remain in
England till October, so that I feel sure that I shall have the pleasure
of seeing you here before I return to my _other_ country--for I reckon
that I have two; though, as the old woman said, and you know, "between
two stools," etc.

I should have thought you and Sir Francis Head would have become
infinite cronies. I hear he is so very clever; and as you tell me he
says so many fine things of me, I believe it.

                              Ever yours most truly,
                                                                F. A. B.

    [The admirable novel of "Deerbrook" sufficiently answered all who
    had ever doubted Miss Martineau's capacity for that order of
    composition; in spite of Sydney Smith's determination that no
    village "poticary," as he called it, might, could, would, or ever
    should, be a hero of romance, and the incessant ridicule with which
    he assailed the choice of such a one. If, he contended, he takes his
    mistress's hand with the utmost fervor of a lover, he will, by the
    mere force of habit, end by feeling her pulse; if, under strong
    emotion, she faints away, he will have no salts but Epsom about him,
    wherewith to restore her suspended vitality; he will put cream of
    tartar in her tea, and (a) flower of brimstone in her bosom. There
    was no end to the fun he made of "the medicinal lover," as he called
    him. Nevertheless, the public accepted the Deerbrook M. D., and all
    the paraphernalia of gallipots, pill-boxes, vials, salves,
    ointments, with which the facetious divine always represented him as
    surrounded; and vindicated, by its approval, the authoress's choice
    of a hero.

    I do not know whether Mr. Gibson is not, to me, decidedly the hero
    of Mrs. Gaskell's "Wives and Daughters." I like him infinitely
    better than all the younger men of the story; and I think the
    preponderating interest with which one closes George Eliot's
    wonderful "Middlemarch" is decidedly in behalf of Lydgate, the
    country surgeon and hospital doctor. To be sure, we have come a
    long way since the Liberalism of Sydney Smith and 1837.

    I was indebted to my kind friend, Lord Lansdowne, for the memorable
    pleasure of being present at the first meeting between Queen
    Victoria and her Houses of Parliament. The occasion, which is always
    one of interest when a new sovereign performs the solemnity, was
    rendered peculiarly so by the age and sex of the sovereign. Every
    person who, by right or favor, could be present, was there; and no
    one of that great assembly will ever forget the impression made upon
    them. Lady Lansdowne, who was Mistress of the Robes, was herself an
    important member of the group round the throne, and I went with her
    niece, Lady Valletort, under Lord Lansdowne's escort, to places most
    admirably situated for hearing and seeing the whole ceremony. The
    queen was not handsome, but very pretty, and the singularity of her
    great position lent a sentimental and poetical charm to her youthful
    face and figure.

    The serene, serious sweetness of her candid brow and clear soft eyes
    gave dignity to the girlish countenance, while the want of height
    only added to the effect of extreme youth of the round but slender
    person, and gracefully moulded hands and arms. The queen's voice was
    exquisite; nor have I ever heard any spoken words more musical in
    their gentle distinctness, than the "My Lords and Gentlemen" which
    broke the breathless silence of the illustrious assembly, whose gaze
    was riveted upon that fair flower of royalty. The enunciation was as
    perfect as the intonation was melodious, and I think it is
    impossible to hear a more excellent utterance than that of the
    queen's English, by the English queen.]

                              WEDNESDAY, July 26th, 1837.
                                         (Think of that, Master Brook!!)

  DEAREST H----,

These overflowing spirits of mine all come of a gallop of fifteen miles
I have been taking with dear Emily, over breezy commons and through
ferny pine-woods, and then coming home and devouring luncheon as fast as
it could be swallowed; and so you get the result of all this physical
excitement in these very animal spirits; and if my letter is "all sound
and fury, signifying nothing," under the circumstances how can I help

That rather ill-conducted person, Ninon de l'Enclos, I believe, said
her soup got into her head; and though "comparisons are odious,"
and I should be loth to suggest any between that wonderful
no-better-than-she-should-be and myself, beyond all doubt my luncheon
has got into my head, though I drank nothing but water with it; but I
rather think violent exercise in the cold air, followed immediately by
eating, will produce a certain amount of intoxication, just as easily as
stimulating drink would. I suppose it is only a question of accelerated
circulation, with a slight tendency of blood to the head.

However that may be, I wish you would speak to Emily (you needn't bawl,
though you are in Ireland), and tell her to hold her tongue and not
disturb me. She is profanely laughing at a sermon of Dr. South's, and
interrupting me in this serious letter to you with absurd questions
about such nonsense as Life, Death, and Immortality. I can't get on for
her a bit, so add her to the cold ride and the hot lunch in the list of
causes of this crazy epistle--I mean, the causes of its craziness.

Do you know old South? I don't believe you do even this much of him:--

    "Old South, a witty Churchman reckoned,
    Was preaching once to Charles the Second:
    When lo! the King began to nod,
    Deaf to the zealous man of God;
    Who, leaning o'er his pulpit, cried
    To Lauderdale by Charles's side:--
    'My Lord, why, 'tis a shameful thing!
    You snore so loud, you'll wake the King!'"

I quote by memory, through my luncheon, and I dare say all wrong; but it
doesn't matter, for I don't believe you know it a bit better than I
remember it. I and my baby came here on Monday, and shall stay until
to-morrow week; after that I go to Liverpool, to meet and be met; and
after that I know nothing, of course.... If, however, by that time you
are likely to be near London, we will come up thither forthwith, and you
must come and stay in Park Place with us. We shall be alone keeping
house there; for my mother is in the country, and my father and Adelaide
are going to Carlsbad, where we think to join them by-and-by; in the
mean time, we hope to enjoy ourselves much sight-seeing all over London,
which we shall then have entirely to ourselves; and you had better come
and help us.

Good-bye, dearest H----.

                              Yours ever,
                                                                F. A. B.

    [This letter was written from Bannisters, the charming country home
    of my dear friend, Miss Fitz Hugh. For years it had been a resort of
    rest for Mrs. Siddons, who was always made welcome as one of her own
    sisters, by Mrs. Fitz Hugh; and for years it was a resort of rest
    for me, to whom my friend was as devoted as her mother had been to
    my aunt.]

                                 LIVERPOOL, Saturday, August 17th, 1837.

I have but one instant in which to write. I hope this will meet you at
Emily's, in Orchard Street [No. 18 Orchard Street, Portman Square, Mr.
Fitz Hugh's town house]; it is to entreat you to remain there until I
come to town, which must be in less than a week....

I left Bannisters--most unnecessarily, as it has proved--a fortnight
ago, which time I have been spending in heart-eating suspense, waiting
in vain, and bolstering up my patience, which kept sinking every day
more and more, like an empty sack put to stand upright. I have, since I
arrived here, received a letter which has caused me considerable
distress, inasmuch as I find I must leave England without again seeing
my father and Adelaide, who are gone to Carlsbad in the full expectation
of our joining them there....

The political body upon whose movements ours are just now depending has
not dispersed, but is merely adjourned to the 17th October. This allows
its absent member but a few days in Europe, as we must sail on the 8th
September; and those few days are gradually becoming fewer in
consequence of this long prevalence of contrary winds, which is keeping
the vessel just at the entrance of the Channel, within one good day's
sail of me.

All this is a trial, and my heart has sunk, as hour after hour I have
watched that watery horizon, and seen the masts appear and disappear,
and yet no tidings of the ship I look for.

I have ridden, bathed, tried to write, tried to read, marked my
Shakespeare for you, and laid my hand--but, God knows, not with all my
heart--to whatsoever I found to do: still I have been ashamed and
displeased at the little command I have achieved over my impatience, and
the little use I have made of my time. It has been my great good fortune
to meet with old friends, and to make new ones, during this period of my
probation; and never was kindly intercourse more needed and more
appreciated. But, after all, is it not always thus? and are not
unexpected pleasures and enjoyments furnished us quite as often as the
trials which render them doubly welcome?

'Tis now the 14th of August, and yet no tidings of that ship. There is
no ground whatever for anxiety, for it is the prevalence of calm, and
light contrary winds, which alone delay its arrival.

Dearest Harriet, I shall soon see you again, and will not that be a
blessing to both of us? Farewell, my dear friend. How long it is since
we have been even thus near each other! how long since we have hoped so
soon to hear each other's voice!

                              Ever your affectionate,
                                                                F. A. B.

    [This letter was written from Crosby, a little strip of sandy beach,
    three miles from Liverpool, to which I betook myself with my child,
    rather than remain in the noisy, smoky town, while waiting for the
    arrival of the vessel from America which I was expecting.

    I dare say Crosby is by this time a flourishing, fashionable
    bathing-place. It was then a mere row of very humble seaside
    lodging-houses, where persons constrained as I was to remain in the
    close vicinity of Liverpool, were able to obtain fresh air, salt
    water, and an uninterrupted sea view.

    A Liverpool lady told me that, having once spent some weeks at this
    place one summer, her son, a lad of about twelve years old, used to
    ride along the sands to Liverpool every day for his lessons, and
    that she could see him through the telescope all the way to the
    first houses on the outskirt of the town. Just about midway,
    however, there was a spot of treacherous quicksand, and I confess I
    wondered at my friend's courage in watching her boy pass that point:
    he knew it well, and was little likely to take his pony too near it;
    but I confess I would rather have trusted to his caution to avoid
    the place, than watched him pass it through a telescope.

    From Liverpool, the long-expected ship having arrived, we went to
    London, and spent as much time with our friends there and elsewhere
    as our very limited leisure would then allow; and by the 10th of
    September, we were again on the edge of English ground, about to
    sail for the United States.]

                                 LIVERPOOL, Friday, September 8th, 1837.

My time in England is growing painfully short, for the watch says
half-past eleven, and at two o'clock I shall be on board the ship. My
promise, as well as my desire, urge me to write you a few parting words.
And yet what can they be, that may give you the slightest pleasure?

My parting with my poor mother was calmer than I had ventured to
anticipate, and I thank Heaven that I was not obliged to leave England
without seeing her once more. I have heard from my sister, who had just
received the news of my sudden departure from England when she wrote.
She was bitterly disappointed; but yet I think this unexpected parting
without seeing each other again is perhaps well. Our last leave-taking,
when she started with my father for Carlsbad, was quite cheerful,
because we looked soon to meet again. We have been spared those
exceedingly painful moments of clinging to what we are condemned to
lose, and in the midst of novelty and variety she will miss me far less
than had I left her lonely, in the home where we have been together for
the past year.

Dear Lady Dacre, pray, if it is in your power to show her kindness at
any time, do so; but I am sure that you would, and that such a request
on my part is unnecessary.

The days that we spent in London after leaving you formed a sad contrast
to the happy time we enjoyed at the Hoo. We were plunged in bustle and
confusion; up to our eyes in trunks, packing-cases, carpet-bags, and
valises; and I don't believe Marius in the middle of his Carthaginian
ruins was more thoroughly _uncomfortable_ than I, in my desolate,
box-encumbered rooms.

You know that we were disappointed of our visit to Bowood, but we spent
a few days delightfully at Bannisters, and I am happy to say that _we_
are leaving England with the desire and determination to return as soon
as possible.

I found on my arrival here a most pressing and cordial invitation from
Sydney Smith (I cannot call him Mr.) to Combe Flory, which, like many
other pleasant things, must be foregone. Pray, if you are with him when
or after you receive this, thank him again for his kindness and courtesy
to us. I did not quite like him, you know, when first I met him at
Rogers's; but that was Lady Holland's fault; even now, his being a
clergyman hurts my mind a little sometimes, and I fancy I should like
him more entirely if he were not so. I have a superstitious veneration
for the cloth, which his free-and-easy wearing of it occasionally
disturbs a little; but I feel deeply honored by his notice, and most
grateful for the good-will which he expresses towards me, and should
have been too glad to have heard him laugh once more at his own jokes,
which I acknowledge he does with a better grace than any man
alive,--though the last time I had that pleasure it was at my own
expense: I gave him an admirable chance, and I think he used his
advantage most unmercifully.

And now, dear Lady Dacre, what message will you give your kind and good
husband from me? May I, with "one foot on land and one on sea," send him
word that I love him almost as well as I do you? This shall rest with
you, however. Pray thank him with all my heart, as I do you, for your
manifold kindnesses to me. God bless and preserve you both, and those
you love! Remember me most kindly to Mrs. Sullivan. I cannot tell you
how my heart is _squeezed_, as the French say, at going away. Luckily, I
am too busy to cry to-day, and to-morrow I shall be too sea-sick, and
so, farewell!

                    Believe me, my dear Lady Dacre,
                              Yours affectionately,
                                                                F. A. B.

    [The occasion of my becoming acquainted with my admirable and very
    kind friend, the Rev. Sydney Smith, was a dinner at Mr. Rogers's, to
    which I had been asked to meet Lord and Lady Holland, by special
    desire, as I was afterwards informed, of the latter, who, during
    dinner, drank out of her neighbor's (Sydney Smith's) glass, and
    otherwise behaved herself with the fantastic, despotic impropriety
    in which she frequently indulged, and which might have been
    tolerated in a spoilt beauty of eighteen, but was hardly becoming in
    a woman of her age and "personal appearance." When first I came out
    on the stage, my father and mother, who occasionally went to Holland
    House, received an invitation to dine there, which included me;
    after some discussion, which I did not then understand, it was
    deemed expedient to decline the invitation for me, and I neither
    knew the grounds of my parents' decision, nor of how brilliant and
    delightful a society it had then closed the door to me. On my return
    to England after my marriage, Lady Holland's curiosity revived with
    regard to me, and she desired Rogers to ask me to meet her at
    dinner, which I did; and the impression she made upon me was so
    disagreeable that, for a time, it involved every member of that
    dinner-party in a halo of undistinguishing dislike in my mind.

    My sister had joined us in the evening, and sat for a few moments by
    Lady Holland, who dropped her handkerchief. Adelaide, who was as
    unpleasantly impressed as myself by that lady, for a moment made no
    attempt to pick it up; but, reflecting upon her age and size, which
    made it difficult for her to stoop for it herself, my sister picked
    it up and presented it to her, when Lady Holland, taking it from
    her, merely said, "Ah! I thought you'd do it." Adelaide said she
    felt an almost irresistible inclination to twitch it from her hand,
    throw it on the ground again, and say, "Did you? then now do it

    Altogether the evening was unsuccessful, if its purpose had been an
    acquaintance between Lady Holland and myself; and I remember a
    grotesque climax to my dissatisfaction in the destruction of a
    lovely nosegay of exquisite flowers which my sister had brought with
    her, and which, towards the middle of the evening, mysteriously
    disappeared, and was looked for and inquired for in vain, until poor
    Lord Holland, who was then dependent upon the assistance of two
    servants to move from his seat, being raised from the sofa on which
    he had been deposited when he was brought up from the dining-room,
    the flowers, which Adelaide had left there, were discovered, pressed
    as flat as if for preservation in a book of botanical specimens. The
    kindly, good-natured gentleman departed, luckily, without knowing
    the mischief he had done, or seeing my sister's face of ludicrous
    dismay at the condition of her flowers; which Sydney Smith, however,
    observed, and in a minute exclaimed, "Ah! I see! Oh dear, oh dear,
    what a pity! Hot-bed! hot-bed!"

    It has always been a matter of amazement to me that Lady Holland
    should have been allowed to ride rough-shod over society, as she did
    for so long, with such complete impunity. To be sure, in society,
    well-bred persons are always at the mercy of ill-bred ones, who have
    an immense advantage over everybody who shrinks from turning a
    social gathering into closed lists for the exchange of
    impertinences; and people gave way to Lady Holland's domineering
    rudeness for the sake of their hosts and fellow-guests, and spared
    her out of consideration for them. Another reason for the toleration
    shown Lady Holland was the universal esteem and affectionate respect
    felt for her husband, whose friends accepted her and her
    peculiarities for his sake, and could certainly have given no
    stronger proof of their regard for him.

    The most powerful inducement to patience, however, to the London
    society upon which Lady Holland habitually trampled, was the immense
    attraction of her house and of the people who frequented it. Holland
    House was, for a series of years, the most brilliant, charming, and
    altogether delightful social resort. Beautiful, comfortable,
    elegant, picturesque,--an ideal house, full of exquisite objects and
    interesting associations, where persons the most distinguished for
    birth, position, mental accomplishments, and intellectual gifts, met
    in a social atmosphere of the highest cultivation and the greatest
    refinement,--the most perfect civilization could produce nothing
    more perfect in the way of enjoyment than the intercourse of that
    delightful mansion. As Lady Tankerville pathetically exclaimed on
    Lady Holland's death, "Ah! poore, deare Lady 'Olland! what shall we
    do? It was such a pleasant 'ouse!"--admission to which was, to most
    of its frequenters, well worth some toleration of its mistress's

    If, as a friend of mine once assured me (a well-born, well-bred man
    of the best English society), it was quite well worth while to "eat
    a little dirt" to get the _entrée_ of Stafford House, I incline to
    think the spoonfuls of dirt Lady Holland occasionally administered
    to her friends were accepted by them as the equivalent for the
    delights of her "pleasant 'ouse"; and that I did not think so, and
    had no desire to go there upon those terms, was, I imagine, the only
    thing that excited Lady Holland's curiosity about me, or her desire
    to have me for her guest. She complained to Charles Greville that I
    would not let her become acquainted with me, and twice after our
    first unavailing meeting at Rogers's, made him ask me to meet her
    again: each time, however, with no happier result.

    The first time, after making herself generally obnoxious at dinner,
    she at length provoked Rogers, who, the conversation having fallen
    upon the subject of beautiful hair, and Lady Holland saying, "Why,
    Rogers, only a few years ago, I had such a head of hair that I could
    hide myself in it, and I've lost it all," merely answered, "What a
    pity!"--but with such a tone that an exultant giggle ran round the
    table at her expense.

    After dinner, when the unfortunate female members of the party had
    to encounter Lady Holland unprotected, she singled out one of the
    ladies of the Baring family, to whom, however, she evidently meant
    to be particularly gracious; not, I think, without some intention of
    also pleasing me by her patronizing laudation of American people and
    American things; winding up with, "You know, my dear, we are
    Americans." The young Baring lady, who may or may not have been as
    familiar as I was with the Bingham and Baring alliances of early
    times in Philadelphia, merely raised her eyebrows, and said,
    "Indeed!" while I kept my lips close and breathed no syllable of
    Longfellow's house near Boston, which had been not only Washington's
    temporary abode, but the residence, in colonial days, of the
    Vassalls, to whom Lady Holland belonged, and where Longfellow showed
    me one day an iron plate at the back of one of the fire-places, with
    the rebus, the punning arms (_Armoiries parlantes_) of the Vassall
    family: a vase with a sun above it, _Vas Sol_.

    _Je suis méchante, ma chére_, as Madame de Sévigné wrote to her
    daughter; _et cela m'a fait plaisir_, to suppress the nice little
    anecdote which might have helped Lady Holland on so pleasantly just
    at that juncture.

    But, holding one's tongue because one chooses, and being compelled
    to hold one's tongue by somebody else, is quite a different thing;
    and I am not sure that the main reason of my dislike to Lady Holland
    is not that I held my tongue to "spite her" during the whole course
    of the last dinner-party to which Rogers invited me to meet her. The
    party consisted of fewer men than women, and Lady ---- and myself
    agreed to take each other down to dinner, which we did. Just,
    however, as we were seating ourselves, Lady Holland called out from
    the opposite side of the table, "No, no, ladies, I can't allow that;
    I must have Mrs. Butler by me, if you please." Thus challenged, I
    could not, without making a scene with Lady Holland, and beginning
    the poet's banquet with a shock to everybody present, refuse her
    very dictatorial behest; and therefore I left my friendly neighbor,
    Lady ----, and went round to the place assigned me by the imperious
    autocratess of the dinner-table: between herself and Dr. Allen ("the
    gentle infidel," "Lady Holland's atheist," as he was familiarly
    called by her familiars).

    But though one man may take the mare to the water, no given number
    of men can make her drink; so, having accepted my place, I
    determined my complaisance should end there, and, in spite of all
    Lady Holland's conversational efforts, and her final exclamation,
    "Allen! do get Mrs. Butler to talk! We _really must_ make her talk!"
    I held my peace, and kept the peace, which I could have done upon no
    other conditions; but the unnatural and unwholesome effort disagreed
    with me so dreadfully, that I have a return of dyspepsia whenever I
    think of it, which I think justifies me in my dislike of Lady
    Holland.... I do not feel inclined to attribute to any motive but a
    kindly one, the attention Lady Holland showed my father during a
    severe indisposition of his, not long after this; though, upon her
    driving to his door one day with some peculiarly delicate jelly she
    had had made for him, Frederick Byng (Poodle, as he was always
    called by his intimates, on account of his absurd resemblance to a
    dog of that species), seeing the remorseful gratitude on my face as
    I received her message of inquiry after my father, exclaimed, "Now,
    she's done it! now, she's won it! now, she's got you, and you'll go
    to Holland House!" "No, I won't," said I, "but I'll go down to the
    carriage, and thank her!" which I immediately did, without stopping
    to put a bonnet on my head. Lady Holland was held, by those who knew
    her, to be a warm and constant friend, and had always been cordially
    kind to my father and my brother John.

    After Lord Holland's death she left Holland House, and took up her
    abode in South Street near the Park. One morning, when I was calling
    on Lady Charlotte Lindsay, Lady Morley came in, and being
    reproached by Lady Charlotte for not having come to a party at her
    house on the previous evening, in which reproach I joined, having
    been also a loser by her absence from that same party, "Couldn't,"
    said the lively lady, "for I was spending the evening with the
    pleasantest, most amiable, gentlest-mannered, sweetest-tempered, and
    most charming woman in all London--Lady Holland!" A conversation
    then ensued, in which certainly little quarter was shown to the ill
    qualities of the former mistress of Holland House. Among several
    curious instances of her unaccountably unamiable conduct to some of
    even Lord Holland's dearest friends, who, for his sake, opened their
    houses to her, allowed her to come thither, bespeaking her own
    rooms--her own company, who she would meet and who she would bring,
    and in every way consulting her pleasure and convenience, as was
    invariably the case on the occasion of her visits to Panshanger and
    Woburn,--Lady Morley said that Landseer had told her, that he was
    walking one day by the side of Lady Holland's wheel-chair, in the
    grounds of Holland House, and, stopping at a particularly pretty
    spot, had said, "Oh, Lady Holland! this is the part of your place of
    which the Duchess of Bedford has such a charming view from her house
    on the hill above." "Is it?" said Lady Holland; and immediately gave
    orders that the paling-fence round that part of her grounds should
    be raised so as to cut off the Duchess's view into them.

    Upon my venturing to express my surprise that anybody should go to
    the house of a person of whom they told such anecdotes, Lady Morley
    replied, "She is the only woman in the world of whom one does tell
    such things and yet goes to see her. She is the most miserable woman
    in England; she is entirely alone now, and she cannot bear to be
    alone, and, for his sake who was the dearest and most excellent and
    amiable creature that ever breathed, one goes on going to her, as I
    shall till she or I die." But what a description of the last days of
    the mistress of Holland House!

    Sidney Smith, with whom I had become well acquainted when I wrote
    the letter to Lady Dacre in which I mention him, used to amuse
    himself, and occasionally some of my other friends, by teasing me on
    the subject of what he called my hallucination with regard to my
    having married in America. He never allowed any allusion to the
    circumstance without the most comical expressions of regret for
    this, as he called it, curious form of monomania. On the occasion to
    which I refer in this letter, he and Mrs. Smith had met some friends
    at dinner at our house, and I was taking leave of them, previous to
    my departure for Liverpool, when he exclaimed, "Now do, my dear
    child, be persuaded to give up this extraordinary delusion; let it,
    I beg, be recorded of us both, that this pleasing and intelligent
    young lady labored under the singular and distressingly insane idea
    that she had contracted a marriage with an American; from which
    painful hallucination she was eventually delivered by the friendly
    exhortations of a learned and pious divine, the Rev. Sydney Smith."
    Everybody round us was in fits of laughter, as he affectionately
    held my hand, and thus paternally admonished me. I held up my left
    hand with its wedding-ring, and began, "Oh, but the baby!" when the
    ludicrous look with which my reverend tormentor received this
    overwhelming testimony of mine, threw the whole company into
    convulsions, and nothing was heard throughout the room but sighs and
    sobs of exhaustion, and faint ejaculations and cries for mercy,
    while everybody was wiping tears of laughter from their eyes. As for
    me, I covered up my face, and very nearly went into hysterics.

    The special and reportable sallies of Sydney Smith have been, of
    course, often repeated, but the fanciful fun and inexhaustible
    humorous drollery of his conversation among his intimates can never
    be adequately rendered or reproduced. He bubbled over with mirth, of
    which his own enjoyment formed an irresistible element, he shook,
    and his eyes glistened at his own ludicrous ideas, as they dawned
    upon his brain; and it would be impossible to convey the faintest
    idea of the genial humor of his habitual talk by merely repeating
    separate witticisms and repartees.

    On that same evening, at my father's house, the comparative
    cheapness of living abroad and in England having been discussed,
    Sydney Smith declared that, for his part, he had never found foreign
    quarters so much more reasonable than home ones, or foreign hotels
    less exorbitant in their charges. "I know I never could live under
    fifty pounds a week," said he. "Oh, but how did you live?" was the
    next question. "Why, as a canon should live," proudly retorted he;
    "and they charged me as enemy's ordnance."

    A question having arisen one evening at Miss Berry's as to the
    welcome Lady Sale would receive in London society after her
    husband's heroic conduct, and her heroic participation in it, during
    the Afghan war, Miss Berry, who, for some reason or other, did not
    admire Lady Sale as much as everybody else did, said she should not
    ask her to come to her house. "Oh, yes! pooh! pooh! you will,"
    exclaimed Sydney Smith; "you'll have her, he'll have her, they'll
    have her, we'll have her. She'll be Sale by auction!" Later on that
    same evening, it being asked what Lord Dalhousie would get for his
    successful exploit in carrying of the gates of some Indian town,
    "Why," cried Lady Morley, "he will be created Duke Samson
    Afghanistes." It was pleasant living among people who talked such
    nonsense as that.

    A party having been made to go and see the Boa Constrictor soon
    after its first arrival at the Zoölogical Gardens, Sydney Smith, who
    was to have been there, failed to come; and, questioned at dinner
    why he had not done so, said, "Because I was detained by the Bore
    Contradictor--Hallam"--whose propensity to controvert people's
    propositions was a subject of irritation to some of his friends,
    less retentive of memory and accurate in statement than himself.

    Sydney Smith, not unnaturally, preferred conversation to music; and
    at a musical party one evening, as he was stealing on tip-toe from
    the concert-room to one more remote from the performance, I held up
    my finger at him, when he whispered, "My dear, it's all right. You
    keep with the dilettanti; I go with the talkettanti." Afterwards,
    upon my expostulating with him, and telling him that by such habits
    he was running a risk of being called to order on some future
    eternal day with "Angel Sydney Smith, hush!" if he did not learn to
    endure music better, he replied, "Oh, no, no! I'm cultivating a
    judicious second expressly for those occasions."

    Of his lamentations for the "flashes of silence" which, he said, at
    one time made Macaulay's intercourse possible, one has heard; but
    when he was so ill that all his friends were full of anxiety about
    him, M----, having called to see him, and affectionately asking what
    sort of night he had passed, Sydney Smith replied, "Oh, horrid,
    horrid, my dear fellow! I dreamt I was chained to a rock and being
    talked to death by Harriet Martineau and Macaulay."

    Rogers's keen-edged wit seemed to cut his lips as he uttered it;
    Sydney Smith's was without sting or edge or venomous point of
    malice, and his genial humor was really the overflowing of a kindly

    Rogers's helpful benevolence and noble generosity to poor artists,
    poor authors, and all distressed whom he could serve or succor, was
    unbounded; he certainly had the kindest heart and the unkindest
    tongue of any one I ever knew. His benefits remind me of a comical
    story my dear friend Harness once told me, of a poor woman at whose
    lamentations over her various hardships one of his curates was
    remonstrating, "Oh, come, come now, my good woman, you must allow
    that Providence has been, upon the whole, very good to you." "So He
    'ave, sir; so He 'ave, mostly. I don't deny it; but I sometimes
    think He 'ave taken it out in corns." I think Rogers took out his
    benevolence, in some directions, in the corns he inflicted, or, at
    any rate, trod upon, in others.

    Mr. Rogers's inveterate tongue-gall was like an irresistible
    impulse, and he certainly bestowed it occasionally, without the
    least provocation, upon persons whom he professed to like. He was
    habitually kind to me, and declared he was fond of me. One evening
    (just after the publication of my stupid drama, "The Star of
    Seville"), he met me with a malignant grin, and the exclamation,
    "Ah, I've just been reading your play. So nice! young poetry!"--with
    a diabolical _dig_ of emphasis on the "_young_." "Now, Mr. Rogers,"
    said I, "what did I do to deserve that you should say that to me?" I
    do not know whether this appeal disarmed him, but his only answer
    was to take me affectionately by the chin, much as if he had been my
    father. When I told my sister of this, she, who was a thousand times
    quicker-witted than I, said, "Why didn't you tell him that young
    poetry was better than old?"

    Walking one day in the Green Park, I met Mr. Rogers and Wordsworth,
    who took me between them, and I continued my walk in great glory and
    exultation of spirit, listening to Rogers, and hearing
    Wordsworth,--the gentle rill of the one speech broken into and
    interrupted by sudden loud splashes of the other; when Rogers, who
    had vainly been trying to tell some anecdote, pathetically
    exclaimed, "He won't let me tell my story!" I immediately stopped,
    and so did Wordsworth, and during this halt Rogers finished his
    recital. Presently afterwards, Wordsworth having left us, Rogers
    told me that he (Mr. Wordsworth), in a visit he had been lately
    paying at Althorpe, was found daily in the magnificent library, but
    never without a volume of his own poetry in his hand. Years after
    this, when I used to go and sit with Mr. Rogers, I never asked him
    what I should read to him without his putting into my hands his own
    poems, which always lay by him on his table.

    A comical instance of the rivalry of wits (surely as keen as that of
    beauties) occurred one day when Mr. Rogers had been calling on me
    and speaking of that universal social favorite, Lady Morley, had
    said, "There is but one voice against her in all England, and that
    is her own." (A musical voice was the only charm wanting to Lady
    Morley's delightful conversation.) I was enchanted with this pretty
    and appropriate epigram, so unlike in its tone to Mr. Rogers's usual
    _friendly_ comments; and, very soon after he left me, Sydney Smith
    coming in, I told him how clever and how pleasant a remark the
    "departed" poet (Sydney Smith often spoke of Rogers as dead, on
    account of his cadaverous complexion) had made on Lady Morley's
    voice. "He never said it," exclaimed my second illustrious visitor.
    "But he did, Mr. Smith, to me, in this room, not half an hour ago."
    "He never _made_ it; it isn't his, it isn't a bit like him." To all
    which I could only repeat that, nevertheless, he _had_ said it, and
    that, whether he made it or not, it was extremely well made.
    Presently Sydney Smith went away. I was living in upper Grosvenor
    Street, close to Park Lane; and he in Green Street, in the near
    neighborhood. But I believe he must have run from my house to his
    own, so short was the interval of time, before I received the
    following note: "Dans toute l'Angleterre il n'y a qu'une voix contre
    moi, et c'est la mienne." Then followed the signature of a French
    lady of the eighteenth century, and these words: "What a dear,
    innocent, confiding, credulous creature you are! and how you _do_
    love Rogers!

                                                         "SYDNEY SMITH."

    When I was leaving England, I received two most kind and
    affectionate letters from him, bidding me farewell, and exhorting
    me, in a most comical and yet pathetic manner, to be courageous and
    of good cheer in returning to America. One of these epistles ended
    thus: "Don't forget me, whatever you do; talk of me sometimes, call
    me Butler's Hudibras, and believe me always.

                              "Affectionately yours,
                                                        "SYDNEY SMITH."]

                                LIVERPOOL, Monday, September 11th, 1837.

Here we are again, dearest Harriet, returned from our ship, after a
wretched day and night spent on board of her most unnecessarily. When we
reached the quay yesterday morning, we saw the vessel lying under
close-reefed sails; the favorable wind had died away, and the captain,
whom we found standing on the wharf, said that, it being Sunday morning,
he did not know how he should get a steamboat to tow us out. All this
seemed to me very much like not sailing, and I begged not to go on
board; at all events, I proposed, if we did not sail, that we should
return to shore, and received a promise that we certainly should do so;
so we went off in a small boat to the ship. She is crowded to excess,
and the greater proportion of passengers are emigrant women and
children.... I busied myself in stowing away everything in our
state-room, and removing the upper berth so as to secure a little more
breathing space. I even was guilty of the illicit proceeding--committed
the outrage, in fact--of endeavoring to break one of my bull's-eyes,
preferring being drenched to dry suffocation in foul air; but my utmost
violence, even assisted with an iron rod, was ineffectual, and I had to
give up breaking that window as a bad job. I found Margery's state-room
one chaos of confusion, she at the same time protesting that everything
was as tidily disposed of as possible; so I had to stand by and show her
where to put every individual article, and having cleared the small
space of the heap of superfluous things with which it was crammed, and
removed the upper berth, I left it to her option whether she or baby
should occupy the floor at night.

At about half-past ten the captain came on board to say that we should
not sail then, but if the wind grew fair, we _might perhaps_ sail in the
afternoon. He then took himself off the vessel, the wind was fast
veering to dead ahead, ... and, with an aching heart and head, I
remained in my berth all day long. In the night a perfect gale arose,
the ship dragged her anchor for two miles, and we had thus much
consolation that, had we put to sea, we should have encountered a
violent storm, and, in all probability been driven back into the Mersey.
This morning the wind was still contrary, and so we at length exerted
ourselves to return to shore. Had we done so yesterday in good time--or,
rather, not gone on board at all, you and I might have spent two more
days together, and the baby and myself been spared considerable misery.
But lamenting cures nothing; ... but I wish we never had left the quay
yesterday morning, for everything showed against the probability of our
sailing, and so here we are back in our old quarters at the Star and
Garter, and you are gone.

We have taken places at the theater for this evening, to see Macready in
"Macbeth." The Captain says we are to sail to-morrow morning, but I
shall do my utmost this time to avoid going on board except in his
company; and then, I think, we shall perhaps have some chance of not
spending another day in vain in our sea-prison.

                              Ever your affectionate,
                                                                F. A. B.

    [The foregoing letter gives some idea of the difference between
    crossing from England to the United States in those days, and in
    these; when a telegram bears the defiance to fate of this message:
    "We sail in the _Russia_ on the 3d; have dinner for us at the
    Adelphi on the 11th."]

                               PHILADELPHIA, Sunday, October 29th, 1837.

We landed in New York, ten days ago, _i.e._, on Friday, the 20th
October; and had we come on immediately hither, your letter would have
been just in time to greet me on my arrival here; but our passage was of
thirty-seven days, stormy as well as tedious, and I was so ill that I
did not leave my bed six times during the crossing; the consequence was,
that on landing I looked more like a ghost than a living creature, and
was so reduced in strength as hardly to be able to stand, so we remained
in New York a few days, till I was able to travel.... Our
fellow-passengers, the women, I mean, were rather vulgar, commonplace
people, with whom I should not have had much sympathy, had I been well.
As it was, I saw but little of them, and may consider that one of the
counterbalancing advantages of having suffered so much.

One of them was in circumstances which interested me a good deal, though
there was little in herself to do so. Her husband was a Staffordshire
potter, and had gone to the United States to establish a pottery there;
to begin the building up of a large concern, and lay the foundation for
probable future wealth and prosperity. He had been gone two years, and
she was now going out to join him with their four children. In his
summons to her after this long separation, he told her that all had
prospered with him, that he had bought a large tract of land, found
excellent soil, water, and means of every description for his
manufacturing purposes, obtained a patent, and established his business,
and was every way likely to thrive and be successful.

What hope, what energy, what enterprise, what industry, in but two years
of one human existence! What a world of doubt, of distressful anxiety
and misgiving in the heart of the woman, left to patient expectation, to
prayerful, tearful hopes and fears! What trust in man and faith in God
during those two years! And now, with her children, she was coming to
rejoin her helpmate, and begin life all over again, with him and them,
in a strange country, in the midst of strangers, with everything strange
about her. I lay thinking with much sympathy of this poor woman and her
feelings, during my miserable confinement to my berth through that
dismal voyage. She was an uneducated person, of the lower middle class,
and not in herself interesting: though I do not know why I say that,
when I was deeply interested about her, and I do not know that any
creature endowed with a heart and soul can fail to be an object of
interest in some way or other; and human existence, with all its
marvelous developments, going on round one, must always furnish matter
for admiration, pity, or sympathy. Moreover, this woman was carrying out
with her the wives of several of her husband's workmen, who had
accompanied him out on his experimental voyage; and, being settled in
his employment, had got their master's wife to bring their partners out
to them. Think what a meeting for all these poor people, dear Harriet,
in this little hive of English industry and energy in the far west, the
fertile wildernesses of Indiana! How often I thought of the fears and
misgivings of these poor women in the steerage, when our progress was
delayed by tempestuous, contrary winds, when the heavy seas leaped over
our laboring vessel's sides, and when, during a violent thunderstorm,
our masts were tipped with lambent fire, which played round them like a
halo of destruction.

All this while I have forgotten to tell you why I have not written
sooner; and I suppose my accusation is yet bitter in your heart while
you are reading this. I told you on my first page I was obliged to stay
in New York to recruit my strength; the first time I went out, after
walking about a quarter of a mile, I was obliged to sit down and rest,
for half an hour, in a public garden, before I could crawl back again to
the hotel.

On Monday, when I was a little better, we came on here. I am every day
now expecting to be fetched to Harrisburg.... A woman should be her
husband's friend, his best and dearest friend, as he should be hers: but
friendship is a relation of equality, in which the same perfect respect
for each other's liberty is exercised on both sides; and that sort of
marriage, if it exists at all anywhere, is, I suspect, very uncommon
everywhere. Moreover, I am not sure that marriage ever is, can be, or
ought to be, such an equality; for even "When two men ride on one
horse," you know, etc. In the relation of friendship there is perfect
freedom, and an undoubted claim on each side to be neither dependent on,
nor controlled by, each other's will. In the relation of marriage this
is impossible; and therefore certainly marriage is not friendship.... A
woman should, I think, love her husband better than anything on earth
except her own soul; which, I think, a man should respect above
everything on earth but his own soul: and there, my dear, is a very
pretty puzzle for you, which a good many people have failed to solve. It
is, indeed, a pretty difficult problem; and perhaps you have chosen, if
not the wiser and better, at any rate the easier and safer part.

God bless you, dear friend.

                              Ever affectionately yours,
                                                                F. A. B.

                                HARRISBURG, Friday, November 14th, 1837.

Thank you, dearest Harriet, for your epitome of the history of the New
Testament. I have read the same things, in greater detail, more than
once.... I have repeatedly gone over accounts of the history and
authenticity of the Gospel narratives; but I have done so as a duty, and
in order to be able to give to others some reason for the faith that is
in me,--not really because I desired the knowledge for its own sake; and
therefore my memory had gradually lost its hold of what I had taken into
my mind, chiefly for the satisfaction of others, to enable me to make
sufficient answers upon a subject whose best evidence of truth seems to
me to reside in itself, and to be altogether out of the region of
logic.... Christ received the last and perfect revelation of moral
truth, brought it into the world, preached it by his practice, and bore
witness to it by his death; and since he came, every holy life and
death, in those portions of the globe where his name is known, has been
moulded upon his teaching and example; and those individuals least
inclined to acknowledge it have unconsciously imbibed the influence of
the inspiration which he breathed into the soul of humanity. He has
saved, and is daily and hourly saving, the world: and so far from
imagining the possibility of any end to the work he has begun, or any
superseding of his revelation by any other, it appears to me that
civilized societies and nations calling themselves Christian have hardly
yet begun to comprehend, believe, or adopt his teaching; under the
influence of which I look for the regeneration of the race through the
coming ages: it will extend above and beyond all discoveries of science
and developments of knowledge, and more and more approve itself the only
moral and spiritual theory that will at once carry forward and keep pace
with the progress of humanity....

If, by telling you that my mind dwelt more upon religious subjects now
than formerly, I have led you to suppose that I ever investigate or
ponder creeds, theologies, dogmas, or systems of faith, I have given you
a false impression. But I live alone--much alone bodily, more alone
mentally; I have no intimates, no society, no intellectual intercourse
whatever; and I give myself up, as I never did in my life before, to
mere musing, reverie, and speculation--I cannot dignify the process by
the title of thought or contemplation.

My mind is much less active than it was: I read less, write less, study
little, plan no work, and accomplish none. It is curious how,
immediately upon my return to England, my mind seemed to flow back into
its former channels; how my thoughts were roused and awakened; and how
my imagination revived, and with what ease and rapidity I wrote, almost
_currente calamo_, the only thing worth anything that I ever have
written, my "English Tragedy." Here, all things tend to check any
utterance of my thoughts, spoken or written; and while in England I
could not find time enough to write, I here have no desire to do so, and
lament my inability to force myself to mental exertion as a mere
occupation and fill-time: _I dare not say kill-time, "for that would be
a sin."_ ... I ride and walk, and pass my days alone; and lacking
converse with others, have become much addicted to desultory thinking
(almost as bad a thing as desultory reading), which is indeed no
thinking at all. Real thinking is what Cleopatra calls "sweating labor,"
to which the hewing of wood and drawing of water is a joke; but this I
carefully avoid, knowing my own incapacity for it; so I dawdle about my
mind, and, naturally, arrive at few conclusions; and among those few, no
doubt, many false ones....

We are established here during the rest of the Session of the
Convention, which is a gain to me, as here I get companionship. There is
a recess of a couple of hours, too, in the middle of the day, which the
members avail themselves of for their very early dinner, but which we
employ, and I enjoy immensely, in riding about the neighboring country.
It is not thought expedient that I should ride alone about this strange
region, on a strange horse, so I am escorted, at which I rejoice for all
sakes, as everybody's health here would be the better for more exercise
than they take.

This place, which is the seat of Government of the State of
Pennsylvania, is beautifully situated in a valley locked round by purple
highlands, through which runs the Susquehanna; in some parts broad,
bright, rapid, shallow, brawling, and broken by picturesque reefs of
rock; in others, deep and placid, bearing on its bosom beautiful
wood-crowned islands, whose autumnal foliage, through which the mellow
sunshine is now pouring, gives them the appearance of fairyland planted
with golden woods.

The beautiful river is bountifully provided, too, with a most admirable
species of trout, weighing from two to four pounds, silvery white
without, and pale pink within (just the complexion of a fresh mushroom),
and very excellent to eat, as well as lovely to behold.

Many of the members of the Convention have been kind enough to come and
see me, and I have attended one of their debates. They are for the most
part uncultivated men, unlettered and ungrammared; and those among them
who are the best educated, or rather the least ignorant, carry their
small _lore_ much as a school-boy carries his, stiffly, awkwardly, and
ostentatiously: an Eton sixth-form lad would beat any one of them in
classical scholarship. But though in point of intellectual acquirement,
I do not find much here to excite my sympathy, there is abundant matter
of interest, as well as much that is curious and amusing to me in their
intercourse. The shrewdness, the sound sense, the original observations,
and the experience of life of some of these men are striking and
remarkable. Though not one of them can speak grammatically, they all
speak fluently, boldly, readily, easily, without effort or hesitation.
There is, of course, among them, the usual proportion of well, and less
well, witted individuals; and perhaps the contrast is the more apparent
because the education has here covered no natural deficiencies and
developed no natural gifts; so that there is not the usual superficial,
civilized level produced by a common intellectual training. The
questions they discuss are often in themselves interesting, though I
cannot say that they often treat them in the most interesting manner....

                              Ever your affectionate,
                                                                F. A. B.

    [The play which I have called an "English Tragedy," was suggested by
    an incident in the life of Lord de Ros, which my father heard at
    dinner at Lady Blessington's, and, on his return from Gore House,
    related it to us. I wrote the principal scene of the third act the
    same evening, under the impression of the story I had just heard;
    and afterwards sketched out and wrote the drama, of which I had
    intended, at first, to write only that one scene.

    The whole fashionable world of London had been thrown into
    consternation by the discovery that Lord de Ros, premier Baron of
    England, cheated at cards. He was, notoriously, one of the most
    worthless men of his day; which circumstance never prevented his
    being perfectly well received by the men and women of the best
    English society. That he was an unprincipled profligate made him
    none the less welcome to his male associates, or their wives,
    sisters, and daughters; but when Lord de Ros cheated his
    fellow-gamblers at the Club, no further toleration of his wickedness
    was, of course, possible; and then every infamous story, which, if
    believed, should have made him intolerable to decent people before,
    was told and re-told; and it seemed to me, that of all the evil
    deeds laid to his charge, his cheating at cards was quite the least

    Lady Ellesmere, from whom I heard a story of his cold-blooded
    profligacy far more dreadful than that on which I founded my
    "English Tragedy," told me that she thought Lord de Ros's influence
    had been exceedingly detrimental to her brother, Charles Greville,
    who was his most intimate friend; and who, she said, burst into
    tears in speaking to her of it, when the fact of his cheating was
    discovered,--certainly a strong proof of affection from such a man
    to such a man; and I remember how eagerly and earnestly he
    endeavored to persuade me that the incident on which I had founded
    my "English Tragedy" had not been so profoundly base on Lord de
    Ros's part as I supposed.

    Besides the revival of these tragical stories of his misdeeds, the
    poor man's disgrace gave rise to some bitter jokes among his friends
    of the club-house and gambling-table. An epitaph composed for him to
    this effect was circulated among his intimates:--

    "Here lies Henry, twenty-sixth Baron de Ros, in joyful expectation
    of the last trump."

    Of course he was cut by all his noble associates; and Lord Alvanley,
    being hailed one day by some of them with an inquiry as to whether
    it was true that he had called on De Ros, replied, "I left a card on
    Lord de Ros, and I marked it, that he might know it was an honor."]

                              HARRISBURG, Saturday, November 11th, 1837.

It seems useless for me to wait any longer for the chance of giving you
some definite idea of our plans, for day after day passes without their
assuming anything like a decided form, and I am now as uncertain of what
is to become of us when the Convention leaves this place, as I was when
I saw you in New York.

From the date of your last, I perceive that you have taken your intended
trip [to the Sault St. Marie, and some of the then little frequented
Canadian Lake scenery]. I rejoice at this, as your health must, of
course, be better than when you wrote to me before, and I think the
scenery and people you are now amongst fit to renovate a sick body and
soothe a sore mind. [Mrs. Jameson was staying at Stockbridge, with the
Sedgwick family.] Catherine Sedgwick is my best friend in this country,
but the whole family have bestowed more kindness upon me than I can ever
sufficiently acknowledge.... They have all been exceedingly good to me,
and the place of their dwelling combines for me the charms of great
natural beauty with the associations that belong to the intellect and
the affections.

After your first letter from New York, I never rested till I got Mrs.
Griffith's review of your book. The composition itself did not surprise
me, but what did a little--only a little (for I am growing old, and have
almost done with being surprised at anything), was that such a
production should have gained admission into one of the principal
magazines of this country; it is a sad specimen, truly, of the
periodical literature it accepts.... Criticism in periodical journals is
apt to be slightly malignant, ... and more often the result of personal
sentiment than impartial literary or artistic judgment: so that I rather
admired the article in question for its ignorance and vulgarity than the
qualities which it exhibited in common with other criticisms to be met
with in our own periodical literature, which, however unjust or partial
in their censures and commendations, are decidedly inferior to Mrs.
Griffith's composition in the two qualities I have specified....

My baby acquired a cough in coming from Philadelphia to this place in a
railroad carriage (car, as they are called here), which held sixty-four
persons in one compartment, and from which we were all obliged to
alight, and walk a quarter of a mile through the woods, because the
railroad, though traveled upon, is not finished.

We are here upon the banks of the Susquehanna, and surrounded by fine
blue outlines of mountainous country. How thankful I am that God did not
despise beauty! He is the sole provider of it here.

                              Believe me ever yours very truly,
                                                                F. A. B.

P. S.--"A change has come o'er the spirit of my dream" since yesterday;
upon due deliberation, it is determined that when the Convention goes to
Philadelphia we shall take possession of Butler Place; and therefore
(however uncomfortably), I shall be able to receive you there after the
first of next month. If a half-furnished house and half-broken household
do not deter you, you will find me the same you have ever known me,
there, as elsewhere,

                              Yours most truly,
                                                                F. A. B.

                            PHILADELPHIA, Thursday, November 20th, 1837.

I write in haste, for I find our garden-cart is just starting for town,
and I wish this to be taken immediately to the post-office. I was
beginning to be almost anxious about you, when your letter from Boston
arrived, to remove the apprehension of your being again ill, which I
feared must be the case.

You tell me that you will let me know the day on which to expect you in
Philadelphia, and bid me, if I cannot receive you in my house, seek out
a shelter for you. The inconveniences, I fear, are yours, and not mine;
though a residence of even a few days in an American boarding-house,
must, I should think, make even the discomforts of my housekeeping seem
tolerable. But that you are yourself likely to be a sufferer in so
doing, I should not be sorry to show you the quite indescribable
difference between an English and an American home and household; which,
I assure you, nothing less than seeing is believing.

From your bidding me, if I intended to relinquish your visit (which I do
not), seek you a lodging near me, I do not think that you understand
that we live six miles from town, and see as little of Philadelphia as
if that six were sixty. This circumstance, too, made me hesitate as to
whether I ought to remove you from seeing what there is to be seen
there--which is little enough, to be sure,--and withdraw you beyond the
reach of those civilities which you would receive on all hands in the
city. All this, though, is for yourself to determine on; bed, board, and
welcome, we tender you freely; your room, and the inkstand you desire in
it, shall be ready on the day you name; and we will joyfully meet you
when and where you please to be met, and convey you to our abode, where
I can positively promise you absolute quiet, which perhaps in itself may
not be unacceptable, after all your mind and body have gone through
during your stay in this country.

The Reform Convention is now sitting in Philadelphia, and is no mean
curiosity of its kind, I assure you; I should like you to see and hear

                              Ever yours truly,
                                                                F. A. B.

    [Mrs. Jameson paid us a short, sad visit, and returned to Europe
    with the bitter disappointment of her early life confirmed, to
    resume her honorable and laborious career of literary industry. Her
    private loss was the public gain. When next we met, it was in

                                BRANCHTOWN, Friday, December 29th, 1837.

Doubtless you have long ago accounted your kind letter lost, for I am
sure you would not imagine that I could have received, and yet so long
delayed to answer it: yet so it is; and I hardly know how to account for
it, for the receipt of your letter gratified and touched me very much;
the more so, probably, that my father and mother hardly ever write to
any of us, and so a letter from any one much my senior always seems to
me a condescension; and though I may have appeared so, believe me, I am
not ungrateful for your kindness in making the effort of writing to

I wish it were in my power to give you a decent excuse for not having
written sooner, but the more I reflect, the less I can think what I have
been doing; yet I have been, and am, busy incessantly from morning to
night, about nothing. My whole life passes in trifling activities, and
small recurring avocations, which do not each seem to occupy an hour,
and yet at last weigh down the balance of the twenty-four. I cannot name
the thing I do, and but that our thoughts are to be revealed at the Day
of Judgment, I should on that occasion be in the knife-grinder's case:
"Story! Lord bless you! I have none to tell, sir!" for except ordering
my dinner (and eating it), and riding on horseback every day, I have no
distinct idea of any one thing I accomplish. Mine is not a life of much
excitement, yet the time goes, and all the more rapidly, perhaps, that
it flows with uninterrupted monotony. I neither read, write, nor cast up
accounts; and shall soon have to begin again with the first elements. Do
you not think that an ignorance, unbroken even by the slightest tincture
of these, would be rather a fine thing for one's original powers? If one
did nothing but a "deal of thinking," perhaps one's thinking might be
something worth. Is it not Goethe who says: "Thought expands and weakens
the mind; action contracts and strengthens it"? If this be true, mine
should be an intellect of vast extent, and too shallow to drown a

Do you know that I consider pain and disease as inventions of our own;
and every death _unnatural_, but that gradual decay of all the
faculties, and cessation of all the functions, which is, as we manage
matters now, the rarest termination of human existence? Therefore,
besides pitying people when they are ill, I blame them too, unless their
suffering be an inheritance, the visitation of God, even unto the third
and fourth generation, for disobedience to His wise and beneficent laws.
One would think, if this belief in hereditary retribution was _real_,
instead of a mere profession, people would be thoughtful, if not for
themselves, at least for those to whom they are to transmit a healthy or
diseased nature; one sees so much sin and so much suffering, the
manifest causes of which lie at our own doors....

Thank you for your account of Lady Beecher; she always made a most
pleasing impression upon me. I think, however you must be mistaken in
saying that she and I excited our audiences _alike_: I should think that
impossible in such very dissimilar actresses as we must have been. The
quantity of effect produced, of course I cannot judge of; but it seems
to me, from what I have seen and known of her off the stage, that the
quality must have been essentially different. This theme, however,
should not be begun in the corner of a letter already too long.

Your letter was brought to me into the Harrisburg Convention, whose
sessions I once or twice attended. That Convention was very funny, and
very strange, and very interesting too; I've a great mind to write Lord
Dacre an account of it, because, you know, you disclaim being a
"political lady," though I presume you admit that he is a "political
lord." And that reminds me that no democrat would accept your
three-legged stool and its inferences [Lady Dacre had compared the
stability of our Government, by the Sovereign, the Lords, and the
Commons, to a solid, three-legged stool, contrasting it
disadvantageously with that of the United States], for nature scorns
plurality of means where one suffices; and the broadest shadowing tree
needs but one stem, if the root be deep and widespread enough. This is
merely by the way, for I am as little "political" as you are.

Give my love to Lord Dacre, if that is respectful enough; and also to
Mrs. Sullivan, whose intercourse, briefly as I was able to enjoy it, was
very delightful to me.

                              Affectionately yours,
                                                                F. A. B.

                               PHILADELPHIA, Tuesday, January 8th, 1838.

I am not prone to that hungry longing for letters which you have so
often expressed to me, yet I was getting heart-sick for some
intelligence from some of my dear ones beyond the seas. My own people
have not written to me since I left England, and it seemed to me an age
since I had heard from you. The day before yesterday, however, brought
me letters from you and Emily, and they were dearly welcome.

A poor woman, who of course had more children than she could well feed
or honestly provide for, said to me the other day, alluding to my
solitary blessing in that kind, that "Providence had spared me
wonderfully." ... How fatal this notion, so prevalent among the poor and
ignorant, and even the less ignorant and better-to-do classes, is!--this
fathering of our progeny upon Providence, which produces so much misery,
and so much crime to boot, in our swarming pauper populations. I have
had it in my mind lately once or twice, to write an "Apology for," or
"Defense of" Providence. I am sick of hearing so much misery, so much
suffering, so much premature death, and so much unnecessary disease,
laid to the charge of our best Friend, our Father who is in heaven.
Moreover, it is the _good_ (not the reasonable, though) who bring these
railing accusations against Providence. Let what calamity soever visit
them, they never bethink themselves of their own instrumentality in the
business; but with a resignation quite more provoking than praiseworthy,
turn up their eyes, and fold their hands, and miscall it a dispensation
of Providence. The only application of that "technical" term that I ever
heard with pleasure, was that of the delightfully _devout_ old Scotch
lady, who said, "Hech, sirs, I'm never weary of reflecting on the
gracious dispensations of Providence towards myself, and its righteous
judgments on my neighbors!" Doubtless, God has ordained that sin and
folly shall produce suffering, that the consequences may warn us from
the causes. Madame de Staël, whose brilliancy, I think, has rather
thrown into the shade her very considerable common sense, has well said,
"Le secret de l'existence, c'est le rapport de nos peines avec nos
fautes." And to acknowledge the just and inevitable results of our own
actions only as the inscrutable caprices of an inscrutable Will, is to
forego one of the most impressive aspects of the great goodness and
wisdom of the Providence by which we are governed. Death, and the decay
which should be its only legitimate preparation, are not contrary to a
right conception of either. But instead of sitting down meekly under
what godly folks call "mysterious dispensations" of the Divinity, I
think, if I took their view of such unaccountable inflictions, I should
call them devilish rather than Divine, and certainly go mad, or _very
bad_. Bearing the righteous result of our own actions, while we suffer,
we can adore the mercy that warns us from evil by its unavoidable
penalties, at the same time remembering that even our sins, duly
acknowledged, and rightly used, may be our gain, through God's merciful
provision, that our bitterest experience may become to us a source of
virtue and a means of progress. The profound sense of the justice of our
Maker renders all things endurable; but the idea of the arbitrary
infliction of misery puts one's whole soul in revolt. Wretchedness
poured upon us, we cannot conceive why or whence, may well be
intolerable; suffering resulting from our own faults may be borne
courageously, and with a certain _comfort_,--forgive the apparent
paradox--the comfort is general, the discomfort individual; and if one
is not too selfish, one may rejoice in a righteous law, even though one
suffers by it. Moreover, if evil have its inevitable results, has not
good its inseparable consequences? If the bad deeds of one involve many
in their retribution, the well-doing of one spreads incalculable good in
all directions. It is because we are by no means wholly selfish, that
the consequences of our actions affect others as well as ourselves; so
that we are warned a thousand ways to avoid evil and seek good, for the
whole world's sake, as well as our own.

What a sermon I have written you! But it was my thought, and therefore,
I take it, as good to you as anything else I could have said.

Of course, children cannot love their parents _understandingly_ until
they become parents themselves; then one thinks back upon all the pain,
care, and anxiety which for the first time one becomes aware has been
expended on one, when one begins in turn to experience them for others.
But the debt is never paid _back_. Our children get what was given to
us, and give to theirs what they got from us. Love descends, and does
not ascend; the self-sacrifice of parents is its own reward; children
can know nothing of it. In the relations of the old with the young,
however, the tenderness and sympathy may well be on the elder side; for
age has known youth, but youth has not known age.

You say you are surprised I did not express more admiration of Harriet
Martineau's book about America. But I _do_ admire it--the spirit of
it--extremely. I admire her extremely; but I think the moral, even more
than the intellectual, woman. I do not mean that she may not be quite as
wise as she is good; but she has devoted her mind to subjects which I
have not, and probably could not, have given mine to, and writes upon
matters of which I am too ignorant to estimate her merit in treating of
them. Some of her political theories appear to me open to objection; for
instance, female suffrage and community of property; but I have never
thought enough upon these questions to judge her mode of advocating
them. The details of her book are sometimes mistaken; but that was to be
expected, especially as she was often subjected to the abominable
impositions of persons who deceived her purposely in the information
which she received from them with the perfect trust of a guileless
nature. I do entire justice to her truth, her benevolence, and her
fearlessness; and these are to me the chief merits of her book....

When Sully, the artist who painted the picture of me now in your
possession, found that it did not give entire satisfaction, he refused
to receive any payment for it, saying that he wished to have it back,
because, as a work of art, it was valuable to him, and that he would
execute another likeness (what a good word _execute_ is, so applied!)
_upon_ me, instead of that you have. We have never been able to alter
this determination of his, and therefore, as he will not take his money,
he should have his picture back. So, Harriet, dear, pack me up, and send
me to Messrs. Harrison and Latham, Liverpool; and as soon as Sully
returns from England, where he now is, you shall have another and, if
possible, a better likeness of me; though I do not feel very sanguine
about it, for Sully's characteristic is delicacy rather than power, and
mine may not be power, but certainly is not delicacy....

Alas! my dear Harriet, the little stone-pine [a seedling planted by my
friend from a pine-cone she brought from Italy], in one of our stormy
nights at sea, was dislodged from its place of security and thrown out
of the pot with all the mould. I watched its decay with extreme regret,
and even fell into some morbid and superstitious fancies about it; but I
could still cry to think that what would have been such a source of
pleasure to dear Emily, and might have prospered so well with her, was
thus unavailingly bestowed upon me. It made quite a sore place in my

God bless you, dear.

                              I am ever affectionately yours,
                                                                F. A. B.

                                       PHILADELPHIA, February 6th, 1838.

The box and two letters arrived safely about a week ago. I read over my
old journal: this returning again into the midst of old events and
feelings, affected my spirits at first a good deal.... Of course this
passed off, and it afforded me much amusement to look over these
archives, ancient as they now almost appear to me.... It surely is
wisdom most difficult of attainment, to form a correct estimate of
things or people while we are under their immediate influence: the just
value of character, the precise importance of events, or the true
estimate of joy and sorrow, while one is subject to their action and
pressure. I suppose, with my quick and excitable feelings, I shall never
attain even so much of this moral power of comparison and just
appreciation as others may; but it cannot be easy to anybody....
Habitual accuracy of thought and moderation of feeling, of course, will
help one to conjecture how our present will look when it has become
past; but the mind that is able to do this must be naturally just, and
habitually trained to justice. With the majority of people, their
present must always preponderate in interest; and it is right that it
should, since our work is in the present, though our hopes may be in the
future, as our memories and examples must be in the past. There must be
some of this intense, vivid feeling about what is immediate, to enable
us to do the work of _now_--to bear the burden, surmount the impediment,
and appreciate the blessing of _now_. St. Paul very wisely bade us
"beget a temperance in all things" (I wish he had told us how to do it).
He also said, "Behold, _now_ is the accepted time, _now_ is the day of
salvation." ...

The medical mode of treatment in this country appears to me frightfully
severe, and I should think, with subjects as delicate as average
American men and women, it might occasionally be fatal. I have a violent
prejudice against bleeding, and would rather take ten doses of physic,
and fast ten days, than lose two ounces of my blood. Of course, in
extreme cases, extreme remedies must be resorted to; but this seems to
be the usual system of treatment here, and I distrust medical systems,
and cannot but think that it might be safer to reduce the quality rather
than the quantity of the vital fluid. Abstinence, and vegetable and
mineral matters of divers kinds, seem to me natural remedies enough; but
the merciless effusion of blood, because it is inflamed, rather reminds
me of my school-day cutting and gashing of my chilblains, in order to
obtain immediate relief from their irritation....

S----'s scarlet fever has been followed by the enlargement of one of the
tonsils, which grew to such a size as to threaten suffocation, and the
physician decided that it must be removed. This was done by means of a
small double-barreled silver tube, through the two pipes of which a wire
is passed, coming out in a loop at the other end of the instrument. This
wire being passed round the tonsil, is tightened, so as to destroy its
vitality in the course of four and twenty hours, during which the tube
remains projecting from the patient's mouth, causing some pain and
extreme inconvenience. The mode usually resorted to with adults (for
this, it seems, is a frequent operation here), is cutting the tonsil off
at once; but as hemorrhage sometimes results from this, which can only
be stopped by cauterizing the throat, that was not to be thought of with
so young a patient.... At the end of the twenty-four hours, the
instrument is removed, the diseased part being effectually killed by the
previous tightening of the wire. It is then left to rot off in the
mouth, which it does in the course of a few days, infecting the breath
most horribly, and, I should think, injuring the health by that
means.... At the same time, I was attacked with a violent sore throat,
perhaps a small beginning of scarlet fever of my own, and which seized,
one after another, upon all our household, and for which I had a hundred
leeches at once applied to my throat, which, without reducing me very
much, enraged me beyond expression. No less than seven of us were ill in
the house. We are now, however, thank God, all well.... I cannot obtain
from our physician any explanation whatever of the cause of this
swelling of the tonsils, so common here; and when, demurring about the
removal of my child's, I inquired into their functions, I received just
as little satisfaction. He told me that they were not ascertained, and
that all that was known was, that removing them did not affect the
breathing, speaking, or swallowing--with which I had to be satisfied.
This uncertainty seems to me a reason against the operation; cutting
away a part of the body whose functions are not ascertained, seems to me
rather venturesome; but of course the baby couldn't be allowed to choke,
and so we submitted to the inevitable. The disease and the remedy are
common here, and may be in England, though I never heard of them before.
Pray, if you know anything about either, write me what, as I cannot rest
satisfied without more information....

God bless you, dear.

                              Always affectionately yours,
                                                                F. A. B.

                           PHILADELPHIA, Wednesday, February 21st, 1838.

Although it was a considerable disappointment to me not to see you
again, after the various rumors and last most authentic announcement of
your coming to Philadelphia, yet, upon the whole, I think it is as well
that we did not meet again, simply to renew that dismalest of
ceremonies, leave-taking. I had not the hope which you expressed, that a
second edition of our parting would have been less painful than the
first.... I think I should have felt less gloomily on that occasion, if
I had not had to leave you in such a dismal den of discomfort. External
things always, even in moments of strong emotion, affect me powerfully;
and that dreariest room, the door of which closed between us, left a
most forlorn impression upon my memory.

I have been of late myself living in an atmosphere darkened by
distress.... Typhus fever has carried off our most intimate friend, Mr.
B----, after but a fortnight's illness; and closed, almost at its
opening, a career which, under all worldly aspects, was one of fair and
goodly promise. He has left a young widow, to whom he had been married
scarcely more than two years, and a boy-baby who loses in him such a
preceptor as few sons in this country are trained under. I have lost in
him one of the few persons who cheer and make endurable my residence
here. Doubtless our loss is reckoned by Him who decrees it, and I pray
that none of us, by impatience of suffering, may forfeit the precious
uses of sorrow. Our friend and neighbor, W----, has just endured a most
dreadful affliction in the death of his youngest child, his only
daughter, one girl among six sons, the very darling of his heart, loved
above all the others, who, while she was still a baby, not a year old,
drew from him that ludicrously pathetic exclamation, "Oh, the man that
marries one's daughter must be hateful!" She died of scarlet fever,
which, after passing so lightly by our doorposts, has entered, like the
destroying angel, our poor friend's dwelling. His brother has been at
the point of death with it too, and I cannot but rejoice in trembling
when I think how happily we escaped from this terrible plague. As you
may suppose, my spirits have been a good deal affected by all the sorrow
around me.

_Mirabile dictu!_ I _have_ read the volume of Scott's Life which you
left here, also the volume of Miss Edgeworth, with which I was
disappointed; also the volume of Milton: not the Treatise on Divorce,
and the Areopagitica, alone; but Letters, Apologies for Smectymnuus, and
Denunciations against Episcopacy, and all. Did you do as much? Moreover,
I am just finishing Carlyle's "French Revolution"; so that you see, as
my friend Mr. F---- says, I am improving; and if I should ever happen to
read another book, I will be sure to mention the circumstance in my

                              Very truly yours,
                                                                F. A. B.

                                                        March 9th, 1838.

I am almost ashamed to say I forgot the anniversary your letter recalls
to me; but the artificial or conventional epochs which used to divide my
time, and the particular days against which affection set its special
marks, are, by degrees, losing their peculiar associations for me. Even
the great division of all, death, which makes us miscall a portion of
eternity Time (as if it were different from, or other than, it), seems
less of an interruption to me than it did formerly. Is it not all one,
let us parcel it out as we will into hours, days, months, years, or
lifetimes? The boundary line exists in our narrow calculation alone. The
greatest change of all the changes we know, to mortal senses implying
almost cessation of being, to the believer in the immortality of spirit
suggests not even the idea of change, in what relates to the soul, so
much as uninterrupted progress, and the gradual lengthening of the chain
of moral consequence, inseparable from one's conception of a
responsible, rational agent, whose existence is to be eternal.

No doubt there are properties of our minds which find delight in order,
symmetry, recurring arrangement, and regular division; and the
harmonious course of the material world, alternately visited by the
sweet succession of day and night, the seasons, and all their lovely
variety of gradation, naturally creates the idea of definite periods, to
which we give definite names; but with God and with our souls there is
no time, and this material world in which our material bodies are
existing is but a shadow or reflection cast upon the surface of that
uninterrupted stream on which our true and _very selves_ are borne
onward; the real, the existing is within us.

I think it probable that the general disregard of times and seasons
formerly observed by me, in the community where I now live, may have
tended to lessen my regard for them; but, besides this, in thinking of
anniversaries connected with those I love--periods which used to appeal
to my affectionate remembrance,--I have come in a measure to feel that
to the very young alone, these marks we draw upon our life can appear
other than as the fictitious lines with which science has divided the
spheres of heaven and earth.

                               PHILADELPHIA, Saturday, March 18th, 1838.

Touching my picture, my dearest Harriet, I am desired to say that your
spirited defense of your right to it (whether you like it or not) is
admirable; that it certainly shall not be taken from you by force, and
that there was no intention whatever of infuriating you by the civil
proposal that was made to relieve you of it by sending you a more
satisfactory one, under the impression that you are not satisfied with
what you have.

My dear, the first two pages of your letter might have been written with
a turkey-cock's quill, they actually gobble in the pugnacity of their
style, and as it lies by me, the very paper goes fr-fr-fr. But you shall
keep that identical picture, my dearest, since you have grown to like
it; so shake your feathers smooth again, funny woman that you are! and
let your soul return into its rest.

Sully is now in England. I wish there were any chance of your seeing
him, but after remaining there long enough to paint the queen, he
intends visiting Paris for a short time and then returning home. He is a
great friend of mine, and one of the few people here that I find
pleasure in associating with. As his delicacy about being paid for the
picture arose from the idea that, not being satisfied with the likeness,
you probably did not care to keep it, I have no doubt that, the present
state of your regard for it being made clear to him, he will not object
any more to receiving the price of it.

I presume that the long chapter you have written me upon the
inevitability of people's folly and the expediency of believing, first,
that God makes us fools, and then that he punishes us for behaving like
fools, is a result of your impeded circulation, under the effect of the
east wind upon your cuticle. How I wish, without the bitter month's
sea-sickness, you could be here beside me now, this 24th of March,
between an open window and door, and with my fire dying out; to be sure,
as I have just been taking two monstrous unruly dogs to a pond at some
distance from the house, for a swim, and as S---- was with me and I had
to carry her (now a pretty heavy lump) through several mud passages, the
agreeable glow in which I feel myself may not be altogether due to the
warmth of the atmosphere, although it is really as hot as our last of
May. How I wish you could spend the summer with me! How you would
rejoice in the heat, to me so hateful and intolerable! To persons of
your temperament, I suppose hell, instead of the popular idea of fire
and brimstone, presents some such frigid horror as poor Claudio's:
"thrilling regions of thick-ribbed ice."

I was walking once with Trelawney, who is as chilly as an Italian
greyhound, at Niagara, by a wall of rock, upon which the intense sun
beat, and was reflected upon us till I felt as if I was being roasted
alive, and exclaimed, "Oh, this is hell itself!" to which he replied
with a grunt of dissatisfaction, "Oh, dear, I hope hell will be a great
deal _warmer_ than this!"

In my observation about the development of our filial affections after
we become parents ourselves, I may have fallen into my usual error of
generalizing from too narrow a basis, and taken it for granted that my
own experience is necessarily that of others.... But after all, though
_everybody_ is not like me, _somebody_ must be, and one's self is
therefore a safe source from whence to draw conclusions with regard to
others, up to a certain point. Made of the same element, however
diversely fashioned and tempered by various influences, we still are all
alike in the main ingredients of our humanity; and it must be quite as
contrary to sound sense to imagine the processes of one's own mind
singular, as to suppose them universal.

Profound truism! but truisms are profound--they lie at the foundations
of existence--for they are truths.

My journal is fast disappearing behind the fire. How I wish I had spent
the time I wasted in writing it, in making extracts from the books I

I wrote my sister a long answer, by Mrs. Jameson, to her last letter, in
which I entered at some length upon the various objections to a public
life; not that I was then aware of the decision she has now adopted of
going upon the stage--a decision, however, for which I have been
entirely prepared ever since my visit to England and my return home....
I hope she may succeed to the fullest extent of her desires, for I do
not think that hers is a nature that would be benefited by the bitter
medicine of disappointment. Oh, how I wish she could once enter some
charmed sphere of peace and happiness! The discipline of happiness, in
which I have infinite faith, would I think be of infinite use to her,
but--God knows best.... I am anxious, too, that her experiment of a life
of excitement should be the most favorable possible, that, under its
happiest aspect, she may learn how remote it is from happiness.... Had
she remained in England, I should have rejoiced to think that Mrs.
Somerville was her friend: such a friend would be God's minister to the
heart and mind of any young woman. It is not a small source of regret to
me, to think of how much inestimable human intercourse my residence in
America deprives me.

I think my father's selecting Paris for the first trial of my sister's
abilities a mistake; and I am very, _very_ anxious about the result.

Natural talent is sufficient for a certain degree of success in acting,
but not in singing, where the expression of feeling, the dramatic
portion of the performance, is so severely trammeled by mechanical
difficulties: the execution of which is all but rendered impossible by
the slightest trepidation, the tone of the voice itself being often
fatally affected by the loss of self-possession.

Pasta and Malibran both failed _at first_ in Paris, and I confess I
shall be most painfully anxious till I hear the issue of this

I am in the garden from morning till night, but am too impatient for
mortal roots and branches. I should have loved the sort of planting
described in Tieck's "Elves," where they stamp a pine-cone into the
earth, and presently a fir-tree springs up, and, rising towards the sky
with the happy children who plant it, rocks them on its topmost
branches, to and fro in the red sunset.

Good-bye, God bless you.

                              I am ever your affectionate,
                                                                F. A. B.

    [Many years after these letters were written, in 1845, when I
    joined my sister in Rome, I found her living in the most cordial
    intimacy with the admirable woman whose acquaintance I had coveted
    for her and for myself.

    My year's residence in Rome gave me frequent opportunities of
    familiar intercourse with Mrs. Somerville, whose European celebrity,
    the result of her successful devotion to the highest scientific
    studies, enhanced the charm of her domestic virtues, her tender
    womanly character, and perfect modesty and simplicity of manner.

    During my last visit to Rome, in 1873, speaking to the old blind
    Duke of Sermoneta, of my desire to go to Naples to pay my respects
    to Mrs. Somerville, who was then residing there, at an extremely
    advanced age, he said, "Elle est si bonne, si savante, et si
    charmante, que la mort n'ose point la toucher." I was unable to
    carry out my plan of going to Naples, and Mrs. Somerville did not
    long survive the period at which I had hoped to have visited her.

    Early in our acquaintance I had expressed some curiosity, not
    unmixed with dread, upon the subject of scorpions, never having seen
    one. Mrs. Somerville laughed, and said that a sojourn in Italy was
    sure to introduce them sooner or later to me. The next time that I
    spent the evening with her after this conversation, as I stood by
    the chimney talking to her, I suddenly perceived a most
    detestable-looking black creature on the mantelpiece. I started back
    in horror to my hostess's great delight, as she had been at the
    pains of cutting out in black paper an imitation scorpion, for my
    edification, and was highly satisfied with the impression it
    produced upon me.

    Urania's reptile, however, was the conventional mythical scorpion of
    the Zodiac, and only vaguely represented the evil-looking, venomous
    beast with which I subsequently became, according to her prophecy,
    acquainted, in all its natural living repulsiveness.

    Besides this sample scorpion, which I have carefully preserved, I
    have two drawings which Mrs. Somerville made for me; one, a delicate
    outline sketch of what is called Othello's House in Venice, and the
    other, a beautifully executed colored copy of his shield, surmounted
    by the Doge's cap, and bearing three mulberries for a
    device,--proving the truth of the assertion, that the _Otelli del
    Moro_ were a noble Venetian folk, who came originally from the
    Morea, whose device was the mulberry, the growth of that country,
    and showing how curious a jumble Shakespeare has made, both of name
    and device, in calling him a _Moor_ and embroidering his arms on
    his handkerchief as _strawberries_. In Cinthio's novel, from which
    Shakespeare probably took his story, the husband is a Moor, and I
    think called by no other name.]

                                            PHILADELPHIA, May 7th, 1838.

I fear this will scarce reach you before you leave England upon your
German pilgrimage, but I presume it will follow you, and be welcome
wherever it finds you.

Do you hear that the steamships have accomplished their crossing from
England to America in perfect safety, the one in seventeen, the other in
fifteen days! just half the usual time, thirty days being the average of
the finest passages this way. Oh, if you knew what joy this intelligence
gave me! It seemed at once to bring me again within reach of England and
all those whom I love there.

And even though I should not therefore return thither the oftener, the
speed and certainty with which letters will now pass between these two
worlds, hitherto so far apart, is a thing to rejoice at exceedingly.
Besides all personal considerations in the matter, the wonder and
delight of seeing this great enterprise of man's ingenuity and courage
thus successful is immense. One of the vessels took her departure for
England the other day, filled with passengers, and sent from the wharf
with a thousand acclamations and benedictions. The mere report of it
overcame me with emotion; thus to see space annihilated, and the
furthest corners of the earth drawn together, fills one with admiration
for this amazing human nature, more potent than the whole material
creation by which it is surrounded, even than the three thousand miles
of that Atlantic abyss. These manifestations of the power of man's
intellect seem to me to cry aloud to him to "stand in awe [of his own
nature] and sin not." And yet these victories over matter are nothing
compared to the achievements of human souls, with their powers of faith,
of love, and of endurance. I will not, however, inflict further
exclamations upon you....

Certainly mere details of personal being, doing, and suffering are of
some value when one would almost give one's eyes for a moment's sight of
the bodily presence of the soul one loves: so you shall have my present
history; which is, that at this immediate writing, I am sitting in a
species of verandah (or piazza, as they call it here), which runs along
the front of the house. It has a low balustrade and columns of
white-painted wood, supporting a similar verandah on the second or
bedroom story of the house; the sitting-rooms are all on the ground
floor. It is Sunday morning, but I am obliged to be content with such
devotions and admonitions as I can enjoy here, from within and around
me, as my plight does not admit of my leaving home....

I am sorry to say that the fact of letters miscarrying between this
country and England has been very disagreeably proved to me this morning
by the receipt of one from dear William Harness, who mentions having
written another to me five months ago, which other has never yet made
its appearance, and I presume would hardly think it worth while to do so

We have had an uncommonly mild winter, without, I think, more than a
fortnight of severe weather, and in March the sun was positively summer
hot. I am out of doors almost all day. Our spring, however, has made up
for the lenient winter, by being as cold and capricious as possible, and
at this moment hardly a fruit-tree is in blossom or a lilac-tree in bud;
and looking abroad over the landscape, 'tis only here and there that I
can detect faint symptoms of that exquisite green haze which generally
seems to hang like a halo over the distant woods at this season. I do
not remember so backward a spring since I have been in this country. I
do not complain of it, however, though everybody else does; for the
longer the annihilating heat of the summer keeps off, the better the
weather suits me. Will you not come over and spend the summer with me,
now that the sea voyage is only half as long as it was? Come, and we
will go to Niagara together, and you shall be half roasted alive for
full five months, an effectual warming through, I should think, for the
rest of the year. Dear Harriet, Niagara is the one thing of its kind for
which no fellow has yet been found in the world, and to see it is
certainly worth a fortnight's sea-sickness. I cannot say more in its

You speak of the sufferings of your wretched Irish population; and
because patience, fortitude, benevolence, charity, and many good fruits
spring from that bitter root, you seem to be reconciled to the fact that
ignorance and imprudence are the real causes from which the greater part
of this frightful misery proceeds.

Though God's infinite mercy has permitted that even our very errors and
sins may become, if we please, sources of virtue in, and therefore of
good to, us, do you not think that our nature, such as He has seen fit
to form it, with imperfection in its very essence, and such a transition
as death in its experience, furnishes us with a sufficient task in the
mere ceaseless government and education which it requires, without our
superadding to this difficult charge the culpability of infinite
neglect, the absolute damage and injury and all the voluntary
deterioration, sin, and sorrow which we inflict upon ourselves?

Why are we to charge God with all these things, or conceive it possible
that He ordained a state of existence in which mercy's supplication
would be that sudden death might sweep a hundred sufferings of worse
kind from the face of the earth?

God is unwearied in producing good; and we can so little frustrate His
determinate and omnipotent goodness, that out of our most desperate
follies and wickednesses the ultimate result is sure to be
preponderating good; but does this excuse the sinners and fools who
vainly attempt to thwart His purpose? or will they be permitted to say
that they are "tempted of God"? Indeed, dear Harriet, I must abide in
the conviction that we manufacture misery for ourselves which was never
appointed for us; and because Mercy, unfailing and unbounded, out of
these very miseries of our own making, draws blessed balsam for our use,
I cannot believe that it ordained and inflicted all our sufferings.

I began this letter yesterday, and am again sitting under my piazza,
with S----, in a buff coat, zigzagging like a yellow butterfly about the
lawn, and Margery mounting guard over her, with such success as you may
fancy a person taking care of a straw in a high wind likely to have....
I have just been enjoying the pleasure of a visit from one of the
members of the Sedgwick family. They are all my friends, and I do think
all and each in their peculiar way good and admirable. Catharine
Sedgwick has been prevented from coming to me by the illness of the
brother in whose family she generally spends the winter in New York....
Like most business men here, he has lived in the deplorable neglect of
every physical law of health, taking no exercise, immuring himself for
the greater part of the day in rooms or law courts where the atmosphere
was absolute poison; and using his brains with intense application,
without ever allowing himself proper or sufficient relaxation. Now, will
you tell me that Providence _intended_ that this man should so labor and
so suffer? Why, the very awfulness of the consequence forbids such a
supposition for a moment. Or will you, perhaps, say that this dire
calamity was sent upon him in order to try the fortitude, patience, and
resignation of his wife, within a month of her confinement; or of his
sister, whose nervous sensibility of temperament was of an order to have
been driven insane, had they not been mercifully relieved from the worst
results of the fatal imprudence of poor R----?

Whenever I see that human beings do act up as fully as they can to _all_
the laws of their Maker, I shall be prepared to admire misery, agony,
sickness, and all tortures of mind or body as excellent devices of the
Deity, expressly appointed for our benefit; but while I see obvious and
abundant natural causes for them in our _disobedience_ to His laws, I
shall scarce come to that conclusion, in spite of all the good which He
makes for us out of our evil. I know we must sin, but we sin more than
we _must_; and I know we must suffer, but we suffer more than we _must_

God bless you, dear.

                              Ever affectionately yours,
                                                                F. A. B.

                                         PHILADELPHIA, Sunday, May 27th.

I have received within the last few days your second letter from London;
the date, however, is rather a puzzle, it being _August the 10th_,
instead (I presume) of April. I hasten, while I am yet able, to send you
word of R. S----'s rapid and almost complete recovery....

In spite of the admirable forethought which prompted the beginning of
this letter, my dear Mrs. Jameson, it is now exactly a fortnight since I
wrote the above lines; and here I am at my writing-table, in my
drawing-room, having in the interim _perpetrated_ another girl baby....
My new child was born on the same day of the month that her sister was,
and within an hour of the same time, which I think shows an orderly,
systematic, and methodical mode of proceeding in such matters, which is
creditable to me.... I should have been unhappy at the delay of my
intelligence about R. S----, but that I feel sure Catharine must ere
this have written to you herself. I am urging her might and main to come
to us and recruit a little, but, like all other very good people, she
thinks she can do something better than take care of herself; a
lamentable fallacy, for which good people in particular, and the world
in general, suffer.

As you may suppose, I do not yet indulge in the inditing of very long
epistles, and shall therefore make no apology for this, which is almost
brief enough to be witty. I am glad you like Sully, because I love him.

                              I am ever yours very truly,
                                                                F. A. B.

                                                     BUTLER PLACE, 1838.

This purposes to be an answer to a letter of yours dated the 10th of
May; the last I have received from you.... I cannot for the life of me
imagine why we envelope death in such hideous and mysterious
dreadfulness, when, for aught we can tell, being born is to an infant
quite as horrible and mysterious a process, perhaps (for we know nothing
about it) of a not much different order. The main difference lies in the
fact of our anticipation of the one event--_ma, chî sa?_--but although
some fear of death is wholesomely implanted in us, to make us shun
danger and to prevent the numbers who, without it, would impatiently
rush away from the evils of their present existence through that gate,
yet certainly one-half of the King of Terror's paraphernalia we invest
him with ourselves; since, really, being born is quite as wonderful,
and, when we consider the involuntary obligations of existence thus
thrust upon us, quite as awful a thing as dying can possibly be.

You retort upon me for having fallen from the observance of
anniversaries, that I am still a devout worshiper of places, and in this
sense, perhaps, an idolater.... My love for certain places is
inexplicable to myself. They have, for some reasons which I have not
detected, so powerfully affected my imagination, that it will
thenceforth never let them go. I retain the strongest impression of some
places where I have stayed the shortest time; thus there is a certain
spot in the hill country of Massachusetts, called Lebanon, where I once
spent two days....

I was going to tell you how like Paradise that place was to my memory,
and with what curious yearning I have longed to visit it again, but I
was interrupted; and in the intervening hours S---- has sickened of the
measles, and I am now sitting writing by her bedside, not a little
disturbed by my own cogitations, and her multitudinous questions, the
continuous stream of which is nothing slackened by an atmosphere of 91°
in the shade, and the furious fever of her own attack....

As soon as S---- is sufficiently recovered, we purpose going to the
seaside to escape from the horrible heat. Our destination is a certain
beach on the shore of Long Island, called Rockaway, where there is fine
bathing, and a good six miles of hard sand for riding and driving. After
that, I believe we shall go to the hill country of Berkshire, to visit
our friends the Sedgwicks. I wonder whether your love for heat would
have made agreeable to you a six-mile ride I took to-day, at about
eleven o'clock, the thermometer standing at 94° in the shade. If this is
not more _warmth_ than even you can away with, you must be "bold and
determined like any salamander, ma'am." ... My love for flowers is the
same as ever. Last winter in London I almost ruined myself in my
nosegays, and came near losing my character by them, as nobody would
believe I was so gallant to myself _out of my own pocket_. My room is
always full of them here, and in spite of recollecting (which I always
do in the very act of sticking flowers in my hair) that I am upon the
verge of _thirty_, they are still my favorite ornaments.

Thank you for your constant affection, my dear friend. It makes my heart
sink to think how much is lost to me in the distance that divides us. If
death severs forever the ties of this world, and our intercourse with
one another here is but a temporary agency, ceasing with our passage
into another stage of existence, how strong a hold have you and I laid
upon each other's souls, to be sundered at the brief limit of this
mortal life! It may possibly have accomplished its full purpose, this
dear friendship of ours, even here; but it is almost impossible to think
that its uses may not survive, or its duration extend beyond this
life;--that is an awful thought overshadowing all our earthly loves, yet
throwing us more completely upon Him, the Father, the Guardian of all;
for on him alone can we surely rest always and forever. But how much
must death change us if we can forget those who have been as dear to us
here as you and I have been to each other!

A friend of mine asked me the other day if I thought we should have
other senses hereafter, and if I could imagine any but those we now
possess: I cannot, can you? To be sure I can imagine the possession of
_common sense_, which would be a new one to me; but it is very funny,
and impossible, to try to fancy a power, like seeing or hearing, of a
different kind, though one can think of these with a higher degree of
intensity, and wider scope.... Good-bye, dearest Harriet. God bless you.

                              I am ever affectionately yours,
                                                                F. A. B.

                                   PHILADELPHIA, Monday, July 23d, 1838.

It is now high-summer mark, and such a summer as we are now dying under
is scarcely remembered by the oldest human creature yet extant in these
parts. And where are you, my dear Mrs. Jameson? Sojourning in Bohemian
castles; or wandering among the ruins of old Athens? Which of your many
plans, or dreams of plans have you put into execution? I am both curious
and anxious to know something of your proceedings, and shall dispatch
this at a hazard to your brother-in-law's, where I suppose your
movements will always be known, and your whereabouts heard of.

Your book is advertised I know, and if you have adhered to your former
determination, you have withdrawn yourself from your own blaze, and
left England to profit by its light. Of myself I can tell you little
that is particularly cheerful....

The friends of good order, in this excellent city of brotherly love,
have been burning down a large new building erected for _purposes of
free discussion_, because Abolition meetings were being held in it; and
the Southern steamer has been wrecked with dreadful loss of life, owing
to the exceeding small esteem in which its officers appear to have held
that "quintessence of dust, Man." The vessel was laden with Southerners,
coming north for the summer; and I suppose there is scarcely a family
from Virginia to Florida, that is not in some way touched by this
dreadful and wanton waste of life.

Pray, when you have time, write me some word of your doing, being, and
suffering, and

                              Believe me ever yours truly,
                                                                F. A. B.

    [The above mention of shipwreck, refers to the disastrous loss of
    the _Pulaski_; an event, the horror of which was rendered more
    memorable to me by an episode of noble courage, of which our
    neighbor, Mr. James Cooper, of Georgia, was the hero, and of which I
    have spoken in the journal I kept during my residence on our

                                          ROCKAWAY, Friday, August 10th.

Where are you, my dearest Harriet; and what are you doing? Drinking of
queer-tasting waters, and soaking in queer-smelling ones? Are you
becoming saturated with sulphur, or penetrated with iron? Are you
chilling your inside with draughts from some unfathomable well, or
warming your outside with baths from some ready-boiled spring?

Oh! vainest quest of that torment, the love for the absent! Do you know,
Harriet, that I have more than once seriously thought of never writing
any more to any of my friends? the total cessation of intercourse would
soon cause the acutest vividness of feeling to subside, and become blunt
(for so are we made): the fruitless feeling after, the vain eager
pursuit in thought of those whose very existence may actually have
ceased, is such a wearisome pain! This being linked by invisible chains
to the remote ends of the earth, and constantly feeling the strain of
the distance upon one's heart,--this sort of death in life, for you are
all so far away that you are almost as _bad_ as dead to me,--is a
condition that I think makes intercourse (such intercourse as is
possible) less of a pleasure than of a pain; and the thought that so
many lives with which mine was mingled so closely are flowing away
yonder, in vain for me here (and of hereafter who can guess!), prevents
my contentedly embracing my own allotted existence, and keeps me still
with eyes and thoughts averted towards the past, from the path of life I
am appointed to tread. If I could believe it right or kind, or that
those who love me would not be grieved by it, I really feel sometimes as
if I could make up my mind to turn my thoughts once and for all away
from them, as from the very dead, and never more by this disjointed
communion revive, in all its acuteness, the bitter sense of loss and

You see I discourse of my child's looks; for at present, indeed, I know
of nothing else to discourse about in her. Of her experiences in her
former states of existence she says nothing, though I try her as Shelley
used to do the speechless babies that he met; and her observations upon
the present she also keeps religiously to herself, so that I get no
profit of either her wisdom or her knowledge....

The vast extent of this country offers every variety of climate which an
invalid can require, and its mineral waters afford the same remedies
which are sought after in the famous European baths. God has everywhere
been bountiful, and doubtless no country is without its own special
natural pharmacopæia, its medicines, vegetable and mineral, and healing
influences for human disease and infirmity. The medicinal waters of this
country are very powerful, and of every variety, and I believe there are
some in Virginia which would precisely answer our purpose....

We are now staying for a short time on the Long Island shore, at a place
called Rockaway. As I sit writing at my window here, the broad, smooth,
blue expanse of the Atlantic stretches out before me, and ships go
sailing by that are coming from, or returning to, the lands where you

You cannot conceive anything more strange, and to me more distasteful
than the life which one leads here. The whole watering-place consists of
a few detached cottages, the property of some individuals who are
singular enough to comprehend the pleasure of privacy; and one enormous
hotel, a huge wooden building, of which we are at present among the

How many _can_ sleep under this mammoth roof, I know not; but upwards of
_four hundred_ have sat down at one time to feed in the boundless
dining-hall. The number of persons now in the house does not, I believe,
exceed eighty, and everybody is lamenting the smallness of the company,
and the consequent dullness of the place; and I am perpetually called
upon to sympathize with regrets which I am so far from sharing, that I
wish, instead of eighty, we had only eight fellow-lodgers.... The
general way of life is very disagreeable to me. I cannot, do what I
will, find anything but constraint and discomfort in the perpetual
presence of a crowd of strangers. The bedrooms are small, and furnished
barely as well as a common servant's room in England. They are certainly
not calculated for comfortable occupation or sitting alone in; but
sitting alone any part of the day is a proceeding contemplated by no one

As for bathing, we are carried down to the beach, which is extremely
deep and sandy, in an omnibus, by batches of a dozen at a time. There
are two little stationary bathing-huts for the use of the whole
population; and you dress, undress, dry yourself, and do all you have to
do, in the closest proximity to persons you never saw in your life
before.... This admitting absolute strangers to the intimacy of one's
most private toilet operations is quite intolerable, and nothing but the
benefit which I believe the children, as well as myself, derive from the
bathing would induce me to endure it.

From this place we go up to Massachusetts--a delightful expedition to
me--to our friends the Sedgwicks, who are very dear to me, and almost
the only people among whom I have found mental companionship since I
have been in this country.

I have not had one line from my sister since her return from Germany,
whence she wrote me one letter. I feel anxious about her plans--yet not
very--I do not think her going into public life adds much to the anxiety
I feel about her.... God bless you, dear. What would I give to be once
more within reach of you, and to have one more of our old talks!

                              Ever affectionately yours,
                                                                F. A. B.

                                ROCKAWAY, LONG ISLAND, August 23d, 1838.

... I forget whether you visited any of the watering-places of this New
World; but if you did not, your estate was the more gracious. This is
the second that I have visited, and I dislike it rather more than I did
the first, inasmuch as the publicity here extends not only to one's
meals, but to those ceremonies of one's toilet which in all civilized
parts of the world human beings perform in the strictest seclusion.

The beach is magnificent--ten good miles of hard, sparkling sand, and
the broad, open Atlantic rolling its long waves and breaking in one
white thunderous cloud along the level expanse. The bathing would be
delightful but for the discomfort and positive indecency of the

There are two small stationary dressing-huts on the beach, and here one
is compelled to disrobe and attire one's self in the closest proximity
to any other women who may wish to come out of the water or go into it
at the same time that one does one's self. Moreover, the beach at
bathing time is daily thronged with spectators, before whose admiring
gaze one has to emerge all dripping, like Venus, from the waves, and
nearly as naked; for one's bathing-dress clings to one's figure, and
makes a perfect wet drapery study of one's various members, and so one
has to wade slowly and in much confusion of face, thus impeded, under
the public gaze, through heavy sand, about half a quarter of a mile, to
the above convenient dressing-rooms, where, if one find only three or
four persons, stripped or stripping, nude or semi-nude, one may consider
one's self fortunate....

I have wished, as heartily as I might for any such thing, that I could
have seen the glorification of our little Guelph Lady, the Queen,
particularly as the coronation of another English sovereign is scarcely
likely to occur during my life; but this unaccomplished desire of mine
must go and keep company with many others, which often tend to the other
side of the Atlantic. Thank you for your account of my sister....
Hereafter, the want of female sympathy and companionship may prove
irksome to her, but at present she will scarcely miss it; she and my
father are exceedingly good friends, and pleasant companions and
fellow-travelers, and are likely to remain so, unless she should fall in
love with, and insist upon marrying, a "fiddler."

Instead of being at Lenox, where I had hoped to be at this season, we
are sweltering here in New York, for whatever good we may obtain from
doctors, leeches, and medicine. I mean to send S---- up into Berkshire
to-morrow; she is well at present, but I fear may not continue so if
confined to the city during this dreadfully hot weather.... For myself,
I am keeping myself well as hard as I can by taking ice-cold baths, and
trudging round the Battery every evening, to the edification of the
exceedingly disreputable company who (beside myself) are the only
haunters of that one lovely lung of New York.... It is not thought
expedient that I should be stared at alone on horseback; being stared at
alone on foot, apparently, is not equally pernicious; and so I lose my
most necessary exercise; but I may comfort myself with the reflection
that should I ever become a sickly, feeble, physically good-for-nothing,
broken-down woman, I shall certainly not be singular in this free and
enlightened republic, where (even more than anywhere else in the world)
singularity appears to be dreaded and condemned above any or all other
sins, crimes, and vices....

Pray be kind enough to continue writing to me. Every letter from the
other side is to me what the drop of water would have been to the rich
man in Hades, whom I dare say you remember. What do you think I am
reading? "The Triumphs of God's revenge against the crying and execrable
_sinne_ of wilful and premeditated _murther_"--that's something new, is
it not?--published in 1635.

                              So believe me ever very truly yours,

                                                                F. A. B.

                                    NEW YORK, Friday, August 24th, 1838.

I wrote to you (I believe) a short time ago, ... but I have since then
received a letter from you, and will thank you at once for it, and
especially for the details concerning my sister.... I rejoice in the
change which must have taken place in her physical condition, which both
you and dear Emily describe; indeed, the improvement had begun before I
left England.... I believe I appreciate perfectly all the feelings which
are prompting her to the choice of the stage for her profession; but I
also think that she is unaware (which I am not) of the necessity for
excitement, which her mode of life and the influences that have
surrounded her from her childhood have created and fostered in her, and
for which she is no more answerable than for the color of her hair. I do
not even much regret her election, little as I admire the vocation of a
public performer. To struggle is allotted to all, let them walk in what
paths they will; and her peculiar gifts naturally incline her to the
career she is choosing, though I think also that she has much higher
intellectual capabilities than those which the vocation of a public
singer will ever call into play.... We are always so greatly in the dark
in our judgments of others, and so utterly incapable of rightly
estimating the motives of their actions and springs of their conduct,
that I think in the way of blame or praise, of vehement regret or
excessive satisfaction, we need not do much until we know more. I pray
God that she may endeavor to be true to herself, and to fulfill her own
perception of what is right. Whether she does so or not, neither I, nor
any one else, shall know; nor, indeed, is any one _really_ concerned in
the matter but herself. She possesses some of the intellectual qualities
from which the most exquisite pleasures are derived.... But she will not
be happy in this world; but, as nobody else is, she will not be
singular in that respect: and in the exercise of her uncommon gifts she
may find a profound pleasure, and an enjoyment of the highest kind apart
from happiness and its far deeper and higher springs.

Her voice haunts me like something precious that I have lost and go
vainly seeking for; other people play and sing her songs, and then,
though I seem to listen to them, I hear _her_ again, and seem to see
again that wonderful human soul which beamed from every part of her fine
face as she uttered those powerful sweet spells of love, and pity, and
terror. To me, her success seems almost a matter of certainty; for those
who can make such appeals to the sympathy of their fellow-beings are
pretty sure not to fail. Pasta is gone; Malibran is abroad; and
Schroeder-Devrient is the only great dramatic singer left, and she
remains but as the _remains_ of what she was; and I see no reason why
Adelaide should not be as eminent as the first, who certainly was a
glorious artist, though her acting surpassed her singing, and her voice
was not an exceptionally magnificent one....

This letter has suffered an interruption of several days, dear Harriet,
... and I and my baby have been sent after S----; and here I am on the
top of a hill in the village of Lenox, in what its inhabitants
tautologically call "Berk_shire county_," Massachusetts, with a view
before my window which would not disgrace the Jura itself.

Immediately sloping before me, the green hillside, on the summit of
which stands the house I am inhabiting, sinks softly down to a small
valley, filled with thick, rich wood, in the centre of which a little
jewel-like lake lies gleaming. Beyond this valley the hills rise one
above another to the horizon, where they scoop the sky with a broken,
irregular outline that the eye dwells on with ever new delight as its
colors glow and vary with the ascending or descending sunlight, and all
the shadowy procession of the clouds. In one direction this undulating
line of distance is overtopped by a considerable mountain with a fine
jagged crest, and ever since early morning, troops of clouds and
wandering showers of rain and the all-prevailing sunbeams have chased
each other over the wooded slopes, and down into the dark hollow where
the lake lies sleeping, making a pageant far finer than the one Prospero
raised for Ferdinand and Miranda on his desert island....

                                                                F. A. B.

                                      LENOX, Monday, September 3d, 1838.

It is not very long since I wrote to you, my dear Mrs. Jameson, and I
have certainly nothing of very special interest to communicate to
warrant my doing so now; but I am in your debt by letters, besides many
other things; and having leisure to back my inclination just now, I will

I am sitting "on top," as the Americans say, of the hill of Lenox,
looking out at that prospect upon which your eyes have often rested, and
making common cause in the eating and living way with Mary and Fanny
A----, who have taken up their abode here for a week [Miss Mary and
Fanny Appleton; the one afterwards married Robert, son of Sir James
Mackintosh; the other, alas! the poet Longfellow]. Never was village
hostelry so graced before, surely! There is a pretty daughter of Mr.
Dewey's staying in the house besides, with a pretty cousin; and it
strikes me that the old Red Inn is having a sort of blossoming season,
with all these sweet, handsome young faces shining about it in every

You know the sort of life that is lived here: the absence of all form,
ceremony, or inconvenient conventionality whatever. We laugh, and we
talk, sing, play, dance, and discuss; we ride, drive, walk, run,
scramble, and saunter, and amuse ourselves extremely with little
materials (as the generality of people would suppose) wherewith to do

The Sedgwicks are under a cloud of sorrow just now.... They are none of
them, however, people who suffer themselves to be absorbed by their own
personal interests, whether sad or gay; and as in their most prosperous
and happy hours they would have sympathy to spare to the sufferings of
others, so the sickness and sorrow of these members of their family
circle, and the consequent depression they all labor under (for where
was a family more united?), does not prevent our enjoying every day
delightful seasons of intercourse with them....

Pray write me whatever you hear about my people. Lady Dacre wrote me a
kind and very interesting account of my sister the other day. Poor
thing! her ordeal is now drawing near, if anybody's ordeal can properly
be said to be "drawing near," except before they are born; for surely
from beginning to end life is nothing but one long ordeal.

I am glad you like Lady M----; she is a person whom I regard very
dearly. It is many years since I first became acquainted with her, and
the renewal of our early intimacy took place under circumstances of
peculiar interest. Is not her face handsome; and her manner and
deportment fine?... I must stop. I see my young ladies coming home from
their afternoon drive, and am going with them to spend the hours between
this and bed-time at Mrs. Charles Sedgwick's. Pray continue to write to
me, and

                              Believe me ever yours very truly,
                                                                F. A. B.

                              Begun at LENOX, ended at PHILADELPHIA,
                                             Sunday, October 29th, 1838.

... Since the receipt of your last letter, one from Emily has reached
me, bringing me the intelligence of my mother's death!... There is
something so deplorable in perceiving (what one only fully perceives as
they are ceasing forever) all the blessed uses of which these mysterious
human relations are capable, all their preciousness, all their
sweetness, all their holiness, alas! alas!...

Cecilia and Mr. Combe arrived in this country by the _Great Western_
about a fortnight ago. On their road from New York to Boston they passed
a night within six miles of Lenox, and neither came to see nor sent me
word that they were so near, which was being rather more phrenological
and philosophically phlegmatical than I should have expected of them.
For my heart had warmed to Cecilia in this pilgrimage of hers to a
foreign land, where I alone was of kin to her; and I felt as if I both
knew and loved her more than I really do....

I understand Mr. Combe has parceled out both his whereabouts and
whatabouts, to the very inch and minute, for every day in the next two
years to come, which he intends to devote to the phrenological
regeneration of this country. I am afraid that he may meet with some
disappointment in the result of his labors: not indeed in Boston, where
considerable curiosity exists upon that subject, and a general proneness
to intellectual exercises of every description....

Throughout New England, his book on the "Constitution of Man," and his
brother's, on the treatment of that constitution, are read and valued,
and their name is held in esteem by the whole reading community of the
North. But I doubt his doing more than exciting a mere temporary
curiosity in New York and Philadelphia; and further south I should think
he would not be listened to at all, unless he comes prepared to
demonstrate phrenologically that the colored population of the Southern
States is (or are), by the conformation of their skulls, the legitimate
slaves of the whites.

Can anything be stranger than to think of Cecilia trotting over the
length and breadth of North America at the heels of a lecturing
philosopher? When I think of her in her mother's drawing-room in
London, in the midst of surroundings and society so different, I find no
end to my wonderment. She must have extraordinary adaptability to
circumstances in her composition.

I have just finished the play of which you read the beginning in
England--my "English Tragedy"--and am, as usual, in high delight just
now with my own performance. I wish that agreeable sentiment could last;
it is so pleasant while it does! I think I will send it over to
Macready, to try if he will bring it out at Covent Garden. I think it
might succeed, perhaps; unless, indeed, the story is too objectionable
for anything--but _reality_.

Perhaps I have had my share of health. I am sure I have had enough to be
most grateful for, if I should lie on a sick-bed for the rest of my

God bless you, dear.

                              I am ever affectionately yours,
                                                                F. A. B.

                             PHILADELPHIA, Tuesday, November 13th, 1838.

... The sad news of my poor mother's death, my dear Mrs. Jameson,
reached me while I was staying up at Lenox, among those whom my good
fortune has raised up in this strange country to fill for me the place
of the kindred and friends from whom I am so widely sundered....

That the winter in Georgia, whither we are going immediately, may be
beneficial to the invalid member of our party, is the only pleasant
anticipation with which I set my face towards a part of the country
where the whole manner of existence is repugnant to my feelings, and
where the common comforts of life are so little known, that we are
obliged to ship a freight of necessary articles of food, for our use
while we are on the plantation.

Wheaten bread is unknown, meal made of the Indian corn being alone used
there: and though the provision Nature has furnished, in the shape of
game, abounds, the only meat, properly so called, which can be procured
there, is shipped in barrels (salted, of course) from the North.

Society, or the shadow of it, is not to be dreamt of; and our residence,
as far as I can learn, is to be a half-furnished house in the midst of
rice-swamps, where our habitual company will be our slaves, and our
occasional visitors an alligator or two from the Altamaha.

Catharine Sedgwick is spending the winter in Lenox. She and Mr. and Mrs.
R---- and Kate are going to Europe in the spring; and if I should return
alive from Slavery, perhaps I may go with them. Pray do not fail to let
me know everything you may hear or see of my sister.... I was at Lenox
when your parcel for Catharine Sedgwick arrived. We were all enchanted
with the engraving from the German picture of the "Sick Counsellor."

                                                                F. A. B.


On Friday morning we started from Philadelphia, by railroad, for
Baltimore. It is a curious fact enough, that half the routes that are
traveled in America are either temporary or unfinished,--one reason,
among several, for the multitudinous accidents which befall wayfarers.
At the very outset of our journey, and within scarce a mile of
Philadelphia, we crossed the Schuylkill, over a bridge, one of the
principal piers of which is yet incomplete, and the whole building (a
covered wooden one, of handsome dimensions) filled with workmen, yet
occupied about its construction. But the Americans are impetuous in the
way of improvement, and have all the impatience of children about the
trying of a new thing, often greatly retarding their own progress by
hurrying unduly the completion of their works, or using them in a
perilous state of incompleteness. Our road lay for a considerable length
of time through flat, low meadows that skirt the Delaware, which at this
season of the year, covered with snow and bare of vegetation, presented
a most dreary aspect. We passed through Wilmington (Delaware), and
crossed a small stream called the Brandywine, the scenery along the
banks of which is very beautiful. For its historical associations I
refer you to the life of Washington. I cannot say that the aspect of the
town of Wilmington, as viewed from the railroad cars, presented any very
exquisite points of beauty; I shall therefore indulge in a few
observations upon these same railroad cars just here.

And first, I cannot but think that it would be infinitely more consonant
with comfort, convenience, and common sense, if persons obliged to
travel during the intense cold of an American winter (in the Northern
States), were to clothe themselves according to the exigency of the
weather, and so do away with the present deleterious custom of warming
close and crowded carriages with sheet-iron stoves, heated with
anthracite coal. No words can describe the foulness of the atmosphere,
thus robbed of all vitality by the vicious properties of that dreadful
combustible, and tainted besides with the poison emitted at every
respiration from so many pairs of human lungs. These are facts which the
merest tyro in physiological science knows, and the utter disregard of
which on the part of the Americans renders them the amazement of every
traveler from countries where the preservation of health is considered
worth the care of a rational creature. I once traveled to Harrisburg in
a railroad car, fitted up to carry sixty-four persons, in the midst of
which glowed a large stove. The trip was certainly a delectable one. Nor
is there any remedy for this: an attempt to open a window is met by a
universal scowl and shudder; and indeed it is but incurring the risk of
one's death of cold, instead of one's death of heat. The windows, in
fact, form the walls on each side of the carriage, which looks like a
long green-house upon wheels; the seats, which each contain two persons
(a pretty tight fit too), are placed down the whole length of the
vehicle, one behind the other, leaving a species of aisle in the middle
for the uneasy (a large portion of the traveling community here) to
fidget up and down, for the tobacco-chewers to spit in, and for a whole
tribe of little itinerant fruit and cake-sellers to rush through,
distributing their wares at every place where the train stops. Of course
nobody can well sit immediately in the opening of a window when the
thermometer is twelve degrees below zero; yet this, or suffocation in
foul air, is the only alternative. I generally prefer being half frozen
to death to the latter mode of martyrdom.

Attached to the Baltimore cars was a separate apartment for women. It
was of comfortable dimensions, and without a stove; and here I betook
myself with my children, escaping from the pestilential atmosphere of
the other compartment, and performing our journey with ease enough. My
only trial here was one which I have to encounter in whatever direction
I travel in America, and which, though apparently a trivial matter in
itself, has caused me infinite trouble, and no little compassion for the
rising generation of the United States--I allude to the ignorant and
fatal practice of the women of stuffing their children from morning till
night with every species of trash which comes to hand.... I once took
the liberty of asking a young woman who was traveling in the same
carriage with me, and stuffing her child incessantly with heavy cakes,
which she also attempted to make mine eat, her reason for this
system,--she replied, it was to "keep her baby good." I looked at her
own sallow cheeks and rickety teeth, and could not forbear suggesting to
her how much she was injuring her poor child's health. She stared in
astonishment, and pursued the process, no doubt wondering what I meant,
and how I could be so cruel as not to allow pound-cake to my child.
Indeed, as may easily be supposed, it becomes a matter of no little
difficulty to enforce my own rigid discipline in the midst of the
various offers of dainties which tempt my poor little girl at every
turn; but I persevere, nevertheless, and am not seldom rewarded by the
admiration which her appearance of health and strength excites wherever
she goes.

I remember being excessively amused at the woeful condition of an
unfortunate gentleman on board one of the Philadelphia boats, whose
sickly-looking wife, exhausted with her vain attempts to quiet three
sickly-looking children, had in despair given them into his charge. The
miserable man furnished each of them with a lump of cake, and during the
temporary lull caused by this diversion, took occasion to make
acquaintance with my child, to whom he tendered the same indulgence.
Upon my refusing it for her, he exclaimed in astonishment--

"Why, madam, don't you allow the little girl cake?"

"No, sir."

"What does she eat, pray?" (as if people lived upon cake generally).

"Bread and milk, and bread and meat."

"What! no butter? no tea or coffee?"

"None whatever."

"Ah!" sighed the poor man, as the chorus of woe arose again from his own
progeny, the cake having disappeared down their throats, "I suppose
that's why she looks so healthy."

I supposed so, too, but did not inquire whether the gentleman extended
his inference.

We pursued our way from Wilmington to Havre de Grace on the railroad,
and crossed one or two inlets from the Chesapeake, of considerable
width, upon bridges of a most perilous construction, and which, indeed,
have given way once or twice in various parts already. They consist
merely of wooden piles driven into the river, across which the iron
rails are laid, only just raising the train above the level of the
water. To traverse with an immense train, at full steam-speed, one of
these creeks, nearly a mile in width, is far from agreeable, let one be
never so little nervous; and it was with infinite cordiality each time
that I greeted the first bush that hung over the water, indicating our
approach to _terra firma_. At Havre de Grace we crossed the Susquehanna
in a steamboat, which cut its way through the ice an inch in thickness
with marvelous ease and swiftness, and landed us on the other side,
where we again entered the railroad carriages to pursue our road.

We arrived in Baltimore at about half-past two, and went immediately on
board the Alabama steamboat, which was to convey us to Portsmouth, and
which started about three-quarters of an hour after, carrying us down
the Chesapeake Bay to the shores of Virginia. We obtained an
unutterably hard beefsteak for our dinner, having had nothing on the
road, but found ourselves but little fortified by the sight of what we
really could not swallow. Between six and seven, however, occurred that
most comprehensive repast, a steamboat tea; after which, and the
ceremony of choosing our berths, I betook myself to the reading of
"Oliver Twist" till half-past eleven at night. I wonder if Mr. Dickens
had any sensible perception of the benedictions which flew to him from
the bosom of the broad Chesapeake as I closed his book; I am afraid not.
Helen says, "'tis pity well-wishing has no body," so it is that
gratitude, admiration, and moral approbation have none, for the sake of
such a writer, and yet he might, peradventure, be smothered. I had a
comical squabble with the stewardess,--a dirty, funny, good-humored old
negress, who was driven almost wild by my exorbitant demands for towels,
of which she assured me one was a quite ample allowance. Mine, alas!
were deep down in my trunk, beyond all possibility of getting at, even
if I could have got at the trunk, which I very much doubt. Now I counted
no less than _seven_ handsome looking-glasses on board of this
steamboat, where one towel was considered all that was requisite, not
even for each individual, but for each washing-room. This addiction to
ornament, and neglect of comfort and convenience, is a strong
characteristic of Americans at present, luxuries often abounding where
decencies cannot be procured. 'Tis the necessary result of a young
civilization, and reminds me a little of Rosamond's purple jar, or Sir
Joshua Reynolds's charming picture of the naked child, with a court cap
full of flowers and feathers stuck on her head.

After a very wretched night on board the boat, we landed about nine
o'clock, at Portsmouth, Virginia. I must not omit to mention that my
morning ablutions were as much excepted to by the old negress as those
of the preceding evening. Indeed, she seemed perfectly indignant at the
forbearance of one lady, who withdrew from the dressing-room on finding
me there, exclaiming--

"Go in, go in, I tell you; they always washes two at a time in them

At Portsmouth there is a fine dry dock and navy yard, as I was
informed.... The appearance of the place in general was mean and
unpicturesque. Here I encountered the first slaves I ever saw, and the
sight of them in no way tended to alter my previous opinions upon this
subject. They were poorly clothed; looked horribly dirty, and had a lazy
recklessness in their air and manner as they sauntered along, which
naturally belongs to creatures without one of the responsibilities
which are the honorable burthen of rational humanity.

Our next stopping-place was a small town called Suffolk. Here the
negroes gathered in admiring crowds round the railroad carriages. They
seem full of idle merriment and unmeaning glee, and regard with an
intensity of curiosity perfectly ludicrous the appearance and
proceedings of such whites as they easily perceive are strangers in
their part of the country. As my child leaned from the carriage-window,
her brilliant complexion drew forth sundry exclamations of delight from
the sooty circle below, and one woman, grinning from ear to ear, and
displaying a most dazzling set of grinders, drew forward a little
mahogany-colored imp, her grandchild, and offered her to the little
"Missis" for her waiting-maid. I told her the little missis waited upon
herself; whereupon she set up a most incredulous giggle, and reiterated
her proffers, in the midst of which our kettle started off, and we left

To describe to you the tract of country through which we now passed
would be impossible, so forlorn a region it never entered my imagination
to conceive. Dismal by nature, indeed, as well as by name, is that vast
swamp, of which we now skirted the northern edge, looking into its
endless pools of black water, where the melancholy cypress and
juniper-trees alone overshadowed the thick-looking surface, their roots
all globular, like huge bulbous plants, and their dark branches woven
together with a hideous matting of giant creepers, which clung round
their stems, and hung about the dreary forest like a drapery of withered

It looked like some blasted region lying under an enchanter's ban, such
as one reads of in old stories. Nothing lived or moved throughout the
loathsome solitude, and the sunbeams themselves seemed to sicken and
grow pale as they glided like ghosts through these watery woods. Into
this wilderness it seems impossible that the hand of human industry, or
the foot of human wayfaring should ever penetrate; no wholesome growth
can take root in its slimy depths; a wild jungle chokes up parts of it
with a reedy, rattling covert for venomous reptiles; the rest is a
succession of black ponds, sweltering under black cypress boughs,--a
place forbid.

The wood which is cut upon its borders is obliged to be felled in
winter, for the summer, which clothes other regions with flowers, makes
this pestilential waste alive with rattlesnakes, so that none dare
venture within its bounds, and I should even apprehend that, traveling
as rapidly as one does on the railroad, and only skirting this district
of dismay, one might not escape the fetid breathings it sends forth when
the warm season has quickened its stagnant waters and poisonous

After passing this place, we entered upon a country little more cheerful
in its aspect, though the absence of the dark swamp water was something
in its favor,--apparently endless tracts of pine-forest, well called by
the natives, Pine-Barrens. The soil is pure sand; and, though the holly,
with its coral berries, and the wild myrtle grow in considerable
abundance, mingled with the pines, these preponderate, and the whole
land presents one wearisome extent of arid soil and gloomy vegetation.
Not a single decent dwelling did we pass: here and there, at rare
intervals, a few miserable negro huts squatting round a mean framed
building, with brick chimneys built on the outside, the residence of the
owner of the land and his squalid serfs, were the only evidences of
human existence in this forlorn country.

Towards four o'clock, as we approached the Roanoke, the appearance of
the land improved; there was a good deal of fine soil well farmed, and
the river, where we crossed it, although in all the naked unadornment of
wintry banks, looked very picturesque and refreshing as it gushed along,
broken by rocks and small islands into rapid reaches and currents.
Immediately after crossing it, we stopped at a small knot of houses,
which, although christened Weldon, and therefore pretending to be a
place, was rather the place where a place was intended to be. Two or
three rough-pine warerooms, or station-houses, belonging to the
railroad; a few miserable dwellings, which might be either not half
built up, or not quite fallen down, on the banks of a large mill-pond;
one exceedingly dirty-looking old wooden house, whither we directed our
steps as to the inn; but we did not take our ease in it, though we tried
as much as we could.

However, one thing I will say for North Carolina--it has the best
material for fire, and the noblest liberality in the use of it, of any
place in the world. Such a spectacle as one of those rousing pine-wood
chimneyfuls is not to be described, nor the revivification it engenders
even in the absence of every other comfort or necessary of life. They
are enough to make one turn Gheber,--such noble piles of fire and flame,
such hearty, brilliant life--full altars of light and warmth. These
greeted us upon our entrance into this miserable inn, and seemed to rest
and feed, as well as warm us. We (the women) were shown up a filthy
flight of wooden stairs into a dilapidated room, the plastered walls of
which were all smeared and discolored, the windows begrimed and darkened
with dirt. Upon the three beds, which nearly filled up this wretched
apartment, lay tattered articles of male and female apparel; and here we
drew round the pine-wood fire, which blazed up the chimney, sending a
ruddy glow of comfort and cheerfulness even through this disgusting den.
We were to wait here for the arrival of the cars from a branch railroad,
to continue our route; and in the mean time a so-called dinner was
provided for us, to which we were presently summoned. Of the horrible
dirt of everything at this meal, from the eatables themselves to the
table-cloth, and the clothes of the negroes who waited upon us, it would
be impossible to give any idea. The poultry, which formed here, as it
does all through the South, the chief animal part of the repast (except
the consumers, always understood), were so tough that I should think
they must have been alive when we came into the house, and certainly
died very hard. They were swimming in black grease, and stuffed with
some black ingredient that was doubt and dismay to us uninitiated; but,
however, knowledge would probably have been more terrible in this case
than ignorance. We had no bread but lumps of hot dough, which reminded
me forcibly of certain juvenile creations of my brothers, yclept dumps.
I should think they would have eaten very much alike.

I was amused to observe that while our tea was poured out, and handed to
us by a black girl of most disgustingly dirty appearance, no sooner did
the engine drivers, and persons connected with the railroads and
coaches, sit down to their meal, than the landlady herself, a portly
dame, with a most dignified carriage, took the head of the table, and
did the honors with all the grace of a most accomplished hostess. Our
male fellow-travelers no sooner had dispatched their dinner than they
withdrew in a body to the other end of the apartment, and large rattling
folding-doors being drawn across the room, the separation of men and
women, so rigidly observed by all traveling Americans, took place. This
is a most peculiar and amusing custom, though sometimes I have been not
a little inclined to quarrel with it, inasmuch as it effectually
deprives one of the assistance of the men under whose protection one is
traveling, as well as all the advantages or pleasure of their society.
Twice during this southward trip of ours my companion has been most
peremptorily ordered to withdraw from the apartment where he was
conversing with me, by colored cabin-girls, who told him it was against
the rules for any gentleman to come into the ladies' room. This making
rules by which ladies and gentlemen are to observe the principles of
decorum and good-breeding may be very necessary, for aught I can tell,
but it seems rather sarcastical, I think, to have them enforced by

The gentlemen, on their side, are intrenched in a similar manner; and
if a woman has occasion to speak to the person with whom she is
traveling, her entrance into the male den, if she has the courage to
venture there, is the signal for a universal stare and whisper. But, for
the most part, the convenient result of this arrangement is, that such
men as have female companions with them pass their time in prowling
about the precincts of the "ladies' apartment"; while their respective
ladies pop their heads first out of one door and then out of another,
watching in decorous discomfort the time when "their man" shall come to
pass. Our sole resource on the present occasion was to retire again to
the horrible hole above stairs, where we had at first taken refuge and
here we remained until summoned down again by the arrival of the
expected train. My poor little children, overcome with fatigue and
sleep, were carried, and we walked from the _hotel_ at Weldon to the
railroad, and by good fortune obtained a compartment to ourselves.

It was now between eight and nine o'clock, and perfectly dark. The
carriages were furnished with lamps, however, and, by the rapid glance
they cast upon the objects which we passed, I endeavored in vain to
guess at the nature of the country through which we were traveling; but,
except the tall shafts of the everlasting pine trees, which still
pursued us, I could descry nothing, and resigned myself to the amusing
contemplation of the attitudes of my companions, who were all fast
asleep. Between twelve and one o'clock the engine stopped, and it was
announced to us that we had traveled as far upon the railroad as it was
yet completed, and that we must transfer ourselves to stage-coaches; so
in the dead middle of the night we crept out of the train, and taking
our children in our arms, walked a few yards into an open space in the
woods, where three four-horse coaches stood waiting to receive us. A
crowd of men, principally negroes, were collected here round a huge fire
of pine-wood, which, together with the pine-torches, whose resinous
glare streamed brilliantly into the darkness of the woods, created a
ruddy blaze, by the light of which we reached our vehicles in safety,
and, while they were adjusting the luggage, had leisure to admire our
jetty torch-bearers, who lounged round in a state of tattered undress,
highly picturesque,--the staring whites of their eyes, and glittering
ranges of dazzling teeth exhibited to perfection by the expression of
grinning amusement in their countenances, shining in the darkness almost
as brightly as the lights which they reflected. We had especially
requested that we might have a coach to ourselves, and had been assured
that there would be one for the use of our party. It appeared, however,
that the outside seat of this had been appropriated by some one, for our
coachman, who was traveling with us, was obliged to take a seat inside
with us; and though it then contained five grown persons and two
children, it seems that the coach was by no means considered full. The
horrors of that night's journey I shall not easily forget. The road lay
almost the whole way through swamps, and was frequently itself under
water. It was made of logs of wood (a corduroy road), and so dreadfully
rough and unequal, that the drawing a coach over it at all seemed
perfectly miraculous. I expected every moment that we must be overturned
into the marsh, through which we splashed, with hardly any intermission,
the whole night long. Their drivers in this part of the country deserve
infinite praise both for skill and care; but the road-makers, I think,
are beyond all praise for their noble confidence in what skill and care
can accomplish.

You will readily imagine how thankfully I saw the first whitening of
daylight in the sky. I do not know that any morning was ever more
welcome to me than that which found us still surrounded by the
pine-swamps of North Carolina, which, brightened by the morning sun, and
breathed through by the morning air, lost something of their dreary
desolateness to my senses....

Not long after daybreak we arrived at a place called Stantonsborough. I
do not know whether that is the name of the district, or what; for I saw
no village,--nothing but the one lonely house in the wood at which we
stopped. I should have mentioned that the unfortunate individual who
took our coachman's place outside, towards daybreak became so perished
with cold, that an exchange was effected between them, and thus the
privacy (if such it could be called) of our carriage was invaded, in
spite of the promise which we had received to the contrary. As I am
nursing my own baby, and have been compelled to travel all day and all
night, of course this was a circumstance of no small annoyance; but as
our company was again increased some time after, and subsequently I had
to travel in a railroad carriage that held upwards of twenty people, I
had to resign myself to this, among the other miseries of this most
miserable journey.

As we alighted from our coach, we encountered the comical spectacle of
the two coach-loads of gentlemen who had traveled the same route as
ourselves, with wrist-bands and coat-cuffs turned back, performing their
morning ablutions all together at a long wooden dresser in the open air,
though the morning was piercing cold. Their toilet accommodations were
quite of the most primitive order imaginable, as indeed were ours. We
(the women) were all shown into one small room, the whole furniture of
which consisted of a chair and wooden bench: upon the latter stood one
basin, one ewer, and a relic of soap, apparently of great antiquity.
Before, however, we could avail ourselves of these ample means of
cleanliness, we were summoned down to breakfast; but as we had traveled
all night, and all the previous day, and were to travel all the ensuing
day and night, I preferred washing to eating, and determined, if I could
not do both, at least to accomplish the first. There was neither towel,
nor glass for one's teeth, nor hostess or chambermaid to appeal to. I
ran through all the rooms on the floor, of which the doors were open;
but though in one I found a magnificent veneered chest of drawers, and
large looking-glass, neither of the above articles were discoverable.
Again the savage passion for ornament occurred to me as I looked at this
piece of furniture, which might have adorned the most luxurious bedroom
of the wealthiest citizen in New York--here in this wilderness, in a
house which seemed but just cut out of the trees, where a tin pan was
brought to me for a basin, and where the only kitchen, of which the
window of our room, to our sorrow, commanded an uninterrupted prospect,
was an open shed, not fit to stable a well-kept horse in. As I found
nothing that I could take possession of in the shape of towel or
tumbler, I was obliged to wait on the stairs, and catch one of the dirty
black girls who were running to and fro serving the breakfast-room. Upon
asking one of these nymphs for a towel, she held up to me a horrible
cloth, which, but for the evidence to the contrary which its filthy
surface presented, I should have supposed had been used to clean the
floors. Upon my objecting to this, she flounced away, disgusted, I
presume, with my fastidiousness, and appeared no more. As I leaned over
the bannisters in a state of considerable despondency, I espied a man
who appeared to be the host himself and to him I ventured to prefer my
humble petition for a clean towel. He immediately snatched from the
dresser, where the gentlemen had been washing themselves, a wet and
dirty towel, which lay by one of the basins, and offered it to me. Upon
my suggesting that that was not a _clean_ towel, he looked at me from
head to foot with ineffable amazement, but at length desired one of the
negroes to fetch me the unusual luxury.

Of the breakfast at this place no words can give any idea. There were
plates full of unutterable-looking things, which made one feel as if one
should never swallow food again. There were some eggs, all begrimed with
smoke, and powdered with cinders; some unbaked dough, cut into little
lumps, by way of bread; and a white, hard substance, calling itself
butter, which had an infinitely nearer resemblance to tallow. The
mixture presented to us by way of tea was absolutely undrinkable; and
when I begged for a glass of milk, they brought a tumbler covered with
dust and dirt, full of such sour stuff that I was obliged to put it
aside, after endeavoring to taste it. Thus _refreshed_, we set forth
again through the eternal pine-lands, on and on, the tall stems rising
all round us for miles and miles in dreary monotony, like a spell-land
of dismal enchantment, to which there seemed no end....

North Carolina is, I believe, the poorest State in the Union: the part
of it through which we traveled should seem to indicate as much. From
Suffolk to Wilmington we did not pass a single town,--scarcely anything
deserving the name of a village. The few detached houses on the road
were mean and beggarly in their appearance; and the people whom we saw
when the coach stopped had a squalid, and at the same time fierce air,
which at once bore witness to the unfortunate influences of their
existence. Not the least of these is the circumstance that their
subsistence is derived in great measure from the spontaneous produce of
the land, which, yielding without cultivation the timber and turpentine,
by the sale of which they are mainly supported, denies to them all the
blessings which flow from labor. How is it that the fable ever
originated of God's having cursed man with the doom of toil? How is it
that men have ever been blind to the exceeding profitableness of labor,
even for its own sake, whose moral harvest alone--industry, economy,
patience, foresight, knowledge--is in itself an exceeding great reward,
to which add the physical blessings which wait on this universal
law--health, strength, activity, cheerfulness, the content that springs
from honest exertion, and the lawful pride that grows from conquered
difficulty? How invariably have the inhabitants of southern countries,
whose teeming soil produced, unurged, the means of life, been cursed
with indolence, with recklessness, with the sleepy slothfulness which,
while basking in the sunshine, and gathering the earth's spontaneous
fruits, satisfied itself with this animal existence, forgetting all the
nobler purposes of life in the mere ease of living? Therefore, too,
southern lands have always been the prey of northern conquerors; and the
bleak regions of Upper Europe and Asia have poured forth from time to
time the hungry hordes, whose iron sinews swept the nerveless children
of the gardens of the earth from the face of their idle paradises: and,
but for this stream of keener life and nobler energy, it would be
difficult to imagine a more complete race of lotus-eaters than would now
cumber the fairest regions of the earth.

Doubtless it is to counteract the enervating effects of soil and
climate that this northern tide of vigorous life flows forever towards
the countries of the sun, that the races may be renewed, the earth
reclaimed, and the world, and all its various tribes, rescued from
disease and decay by the influence of the stern northern vitality,
searching and strong, and purifying as the keen piercing winds that blow
from that quarter of the heavens. To descend to rather a familiar
illustration of this, it is really quite curious to observe how many New
England adventurers come to the Southern States, and bringing their
enterprising, active character to bear upon the means of wealth, which
in the North they lack, but which abound in these more favored regions,
return home after a short season of exertion, laden with the spoils of
the indolent southerners. The southern people are growing poorer every
day, in the midst of their slaves and their vast landed estates: whilst
every day sees the arrival amongst them of some penniless Yankee, who
presently turns the very ground he stands upon into wealth, and departs
a lord of riches at the end of a few years, leaving the sleepy
population, among whom he has amassed them, floated still farther down
the tide of dwindling prosperity....

At a small place called Waynesborough, ... I asked for a glass of milk,
and they told me they had no such thing. Upon entering our new vehicle,
we found another stranger added to our party, to my unspeakable
annoyance. Complaint or remonstrance, I knew, however, would be of no
avail, and I therefore submitted in silence to what I could not help. At
a short distance beyond Waynesborough we were desired to alight, in
order to walk over a bridge, which was in so rotten a condition as to
render it very probable that it would give way under our weight. This
same bridge, whose appearance was indeed most perilous, is built at a
considerable height over a broad and rapid stream, called the Neuse, the
color of whose water we had an excellent opportunity of admiring through
the numerous holes in the plankage, over which we walked as lightly and
rapidly as we could, stopping afterwards to see our coach come at a
foot's pace after us. This may be called safe and pleasant traveling.
The ten miles which followed were over heavy sandy roads, and it was
near sunset when we reached the place where we were to take the
railroad. The train, however, had not arrived, and we sat still in the
coaches, there being neither town, village, nor even a road-side inn at
hand, where we might take shelter from the bitter blast which swept
through the pine-woods by which we were surrounded; and so we waited
patiently, the day gradually drooping, the evening air becoming colder,
and the howling wilderness around us more dismal every moment.

In the mean time the coaches were surrounded by a troop of gazing boors,
who had come from far and near to see the hot-water carriages come up
for only the third time into the midst of their savage solitude. A more
forlorn, fierce, poor, and wild-looking set of people, short of absolute
savages, I never saw. They wandered round and round us, with a stupid
kind of dismayed wonder. The men clothed in the coarsest manner, and the
women also, of whom there were not a few, with the grotesque addition of
pink and blue silk bonnets, with artificial flowers, and
imitation-blonde veils. Here the gentlemen of our party informed us that
they observed, for the first time, a custom prevalent in North Carolina,
of which I had myself frequently heard before--the women chewing
tobacco, and that, too, in a most disgusting and disagreeable way, if
one way can be more disgusting than another. They carry habitually a
small stick, like the implement for cleaning the teeth, usually known in
England by the name of a root,--this they thrust away in their glove, or
their garter-string, and, whenever occasion offers, plunge it into a
snuff-box, and begin chewing it. The practice is so common that the
proffer of the snuff-box, and its passing from hand to hand, is the
usual civility of a morning visit among the country-people; and I was
not a little amused at hearing the gentlemen who were with us describe
the process as they witnessed it in their visit to a miserable
farm-house across the fields, whither they went to try to obtain
something to eat.

It was now becoming dark, and the male members of our caravan held
council round a pine fire as to what course had better be adopted for
sheltering themselves and us during the night, which we seemed destined
to pass in the woods. After some debate, it was recollected that one
Colonel ----, a man of some standing in that neighborhood, had a farm
about a mile distant, immediately upon the line of the railroad; and
thither it was determined we should all repair, and ask quarters for the
night. Fortunately, an empty truck stood at hand upon the iron road, and
to this the luggage and the women and children of the party, were
transferred. A number of negroes, who were loitering about, were pressed
into the service, and pushed it along; and the gentlemen, walking,
brought up the rear. I don't know that I ever in my life felt so
completely desolate as during that half-hour's slow progress. We sat
cowering among the trunks, my faithful Margery and I, each with a baby
in our arms, sheltering ourselves and our poor little burthens from the
bleak northern wind that whistled over us.

The last embers of daylight were dying out in dusky red streaks along
the horizon, and the dreary waste around us looked like the very shaggy
edge of all creation. The men who pushed us along encouraged each other
with wild shouts and yells, and every now and then their labor was one
of no little danger, as well as difficulty,--for the road crossed one or
two deep ravines and morasses at a considerable height, and, as it was
not completed, and nothing but the iron rails were laid across piles
driven into these places, it became a service of considerable risk to
run along these narrow ledges, at the same time urging our car along. No
accident happened, however, fortunately, and we presently beheld, with
no small satisfaction, a cluster of houses in the fields at some little
distance from the road. To the principal one I made my way, followed by
the rest of the poor womankind, and, entering the house without further
ceremony, ushered them into a large species of wooden room, where blazed
a huge pine-wood fire. By this welcome light we descried, sitting in the
corner of the vast chimney, an old, ruddy-faced man, with silver hair,
and a good-humored countenance, who, welcoming us with ready
hospitality, announced himself as Colonel ----, and invited us to draw
near the fire.

The worthy colonel seemed in no way dismayed at this sudden inbreak of
distressed women, which was very soon followed by the arrival of the
gentlemen, to whom he repeated the same courteous reception he had given
us, replying to their rather hesitating demands for something to eat, by
ordering to the right and left a tribe of staring negroes, who bustled
about preparing supper, under the active superintendence of the
hospitable colonel. His residence (considering his rank) was quite the
most primitive imaginable,--a rough brick-and-plank chamber, of
considerable dimensions, not even whitewashed, with the great beams and
rafters by which it was supported displaying the skeleton of the
building, to the complete satisfaction of any one who might be curious
in architecture. The windows could close neither at the top, bottom,
sides, nor middle, and were, besides, broken so as to admit several
delightful currents of air, which might be received as purely
accidental. In one corner of this primitive apartment stood a
clean-looking bed, with coarse furniture; whilst in the opposite one, an
old case-clock was ticking away its time and its master's with cheerful
monotony. The rush-bottomed chairs were of as many different shapes and
sizes as those in a modern fine lady's drawing-room, and the walls were
hung all round with a curious miscellany, consisting principally of
physic vials, turkey-feather fans, bunches of dried herbs, and the
colonel's arsenal, in the shape of one or two old guns, etc.

According to the worthy man's hearty invitation, I proceeded to make
myself and my companions at home, pinning, skewering, and otherwise
suspending our cloaks and shawls across the various intentional and
unintentional air-gaps, thereby increasing both the comfort and the
grotesqueness of the apartment in no small degree. The babies had bowls
of milk furnished them, and the elder portion of the caravan was regaled
with a taste of the colonel's home-made wine, pending the supper to
which he continued to entreat our stay. Meantime he entered into
conversation with the gentlemen; and my veneration waxed deep, when the
old man, unfolding his history, proclaimed himself one of the heroes of
the revolution,--a fellow-fighter with Washington. I, who, comforted to
a degree of high spirits by our sudden transition from the cold and
darkness of the railroad to the light and shelter of this rude mansion,
had been flippantly bandying jokes, and proceeded some way in a lively
flirtation with this illustrious American, grew thrice respectful, and
hardly ventured to raise either my eyes or my voice as I inquired if he
lived alone in this remote place. Yes, alone now; his wife had been dead
near upon two years.

Suddenly we were broken in upon by the arrival of the expected train. It
was past eight o'clock. If we delayed we should have to travel all
night; but then, the colonel pressed us to stay and sup (the bereaved
colonel, the last touching revelation of whose lonely existence had
turned all my mirth into sympathizing sadness). The gentlemen were
famished and well inclined to stay; the ladies were famished too, for we
had eaten nothing all day. The bustle of preparation, urged by the
warmhearted colonel, began afresh; the negro girls shambled in and out
more vigorously than ever, and finally we were called to eat and refresh
ourselves with--dirty water--I cannot call it tea,--old cheese, bad
butter, and old dry biscuits. The gentlemen bethought them of the good
supper they might have secured a few miles further and groaned; but the
hospitable colonel merely asked them half a dollar apiece (there were
about ten of them); paying which, we departed, with our enthusiasm a
little damped for the warrior of the revolution; and a tinge of rather
deeper misgiving as to some of his virtues stole over our minds, on
learning that three of the sable damsels who trudged about at our supper
service were the colonel's own progeny. I believe only three,--though
the young negro girl, whose loquacity made us aware of the fact, added,
with a burst of commendable pride and gratitude, "Indeed, he is a
father to us all!" Whether she spoke figuratively, or literally, we
could not determine. So much for a three hours' shelter in North

                                                                F. A. B.


I had been very much struck with the appearance of the horses we passed
occasionally in enclosures, or gathered round some lonely roadside
pine-wood shop, or post-office, fastened to trees in the surrounding
forest, and waiting for their riders. I had been always led to expect a
great improvement in the breed of horses as we went southward, and the
appearance of those I saw on the road was certainly in favor of the
claim. They were generally small, but in good condition, and remarkably
well made. They seemed to be tolerably well cared for, too; and those
which we saw caparisoned were ornamented with gay saddle-cloths, and
rather a superfluity of trappings for _civil_ animals.

At our dismal halt in the woods, while waiting for the railroad train,
among our other spectators was a woman on horseback. Her steed was
uncommonly pretty and well-limbed; but her costume was quite the most
eccentric that can be imagined, accustomed as I am to the not over-rigid
equipments of the northern villages. But the North Carolinian damsel
beat all Yankee girls, I ever saw, hollow, in the glorious contempt she
exhibited for the external fitness of things in her exceeding short
skirts and huge sun-bonnet.

After our departure from Colonel ----'s, we traveled all night on the
railroad. One of my children slept in my lap, the other on the narrow
seat opposite to me, from which she was jolted off every quarter of an
hour by the uneasy motion of the carriage, and the checks and stops of
the engine, which was out of order. The carriage, though full of people,
was heated with a stove, and every time this was replenished with coals
we were almost suffocated with the clouds of bituminous smoke which
filled it. Five hours, they said, was the usual time consumed in this
part of the journey; but we were the whole mortal night upon that uneasy
railroad, and it was five o'clock in the morning before we reached
Wilmington, North Carolina. When the train stopped it was yet quite
dark, and most bitterly cold; nevertheless, the distance from the
railroad to the only inn where we could be accommodated was nothing less
than a mile; and, weary and worn out, we trudged along, the poor little
sleeping children carried by their still more unfortunate, sleepless
nurses--and so by the cheerless winter starlight we walked along the
brink of the Cape Fear River, to seek where we might lay our heads.

We were shown into a room without window-curtains or shutters, the
windows, as usual, not half shut, and wholly incapable of shutting.
Here, when I asked if we could have some tea, (having fasted the whole
previous day with the exception of Colonel ----'s bountiful supper), the
host pleasantly informed us that the "public breakfast would not be
ready for some hours yet." I really could not help once again protesting
against this abominable tyranny of the traveling many over the traveling
few in this free country. It is supposed impossible that any individual
can hunger, thirst, or desire sleep at any other than the "public
hours." The consequence is, that let one arrive starved at an inn, one
can obtain nothing till such hours as those who are not starving desire
to eat;--and if one is foredone with travel, weary, and wanting rest,
the pitiless alarum-bell, calling those who may have had twelve hours'
sleep from their beds, must startle those who have only just closed
their eyes for the first time, perhaps for three nights,--as if the
whole traveling community were again at boarding-school, and as if a
private summons by the boots or chambermaid to each apartment would not
answer the same purpose.

We were, however, so utterly exhausted, that waiting for the public
appetite was out of the question; and, by dint of much supplication, we
at length obtained some breakfast. When, however, we stated that we had
not been in bed for two successive nights, and asked to be shown to our
rooms, the same gentleman, our host, an exceedingly pleasant person,
informed us that _our_ chamber was prepared,--adding, with the most
facetious familiarity, when I exclaimed "Our chamber!" (we were three,
and two children)--

"Oh! madam, I presume you will have no objection to sleeping with _your
infant_" (he lumped the two into one); "and these two ladies" (Miss ----
and Margery) "will sleep together. I dare say they have done it a
hundred times."

This unheard-of proposition, and the man's cool impudence in making it,
so astonished me that I could hardly speak. At last, however, I found
words to inform him that none of our party were in the habit of sleeping
with each other, and that the arrangement was such as we were not at all
inclined to submit to. The gentleman, apparently very much surprised at
our singular habits, said, "Oh! he didn't know that the ladies were not
acquainted" (as if, forsooth, one went to bed with all one's
acquaintance!) "but that he had but one room in the ladies' part of the

Miss ---- immediately professed her readiness to take one in the
gentlemen's "part of the house," when it appeared that there was none
vacant there which had a fireplace in it. As the morning was intensely
cold, this could not be thought of. I could not take shelter in ----'s
room; for he, according to this decent and comfortable mode of lodging
travelers, had another man to share it with him. To our common dormitory
we therefore repaired, as it was impossible that we could any of us go
any longer without rest. I established Margery and the two babies in the
largest bed; poor Miss ---- betook herself to a sort of curtainless cot
that stood in one corner; and I laid myself down on a mattress on the
floor; and we soon all forgot the conveniences of a Wilmington hotel in
the supreme convenience of sleep.

It was bright morning, and drawing towards one o'clock, when we rose,
and were presently summoned to the "public dinner." The dirt and
discomfort of everything was so intolerable that I could not eat; and
having obtained some tea, we set forth to walk to the steamboat
_Governor Dudley_, which was to convey us to Charleston. The midday sun
took from Wilmington some of the desolateness which the wintry darkness
of the morning gave it; yet it looked to me like a place I could sooner
die than live in,--ruinous, yet not old,--poor, dirty, and mean, and
unvenerable in its poverty and decay. The river that runs by it is
called Cape Fear River; above, on the opposite shore, lies Mount
Misery,--and heaven-forsaken enough seemed place and people to me. How
good one should be to live in such places! How heavenly would one's
thoughts and imaginations of hard necessity become, if one existed in
Wilmington, North Carolina! The afternoon was beautiful, golden, mild,
and bright,--the boat we were in extremely comfortable and clean, and
the captain especially courteous. The whole furniture of this vessel was
remarkably tasteful, as well as convenient,--not forgetting the
fawn-colored and blue curtains to the berths.

But what a deplorable mistake it is--be-draperying up these narrow
nests, so as to impede the poor, meagre mouthfuls of air which their
dimensions alone necessarily limit one to. These crimson and yellow, or
even fawn-colored and blue silk suffocators, are a poor compensation for
free ventilation; and I always look at these elaborate adornments of
sea-beds as ingenious and elegant incentives to sea-sickness, graceful
emetics in themselves, all provocation from the water set aside. The
captain's wife and ourselves were the only passengers; and, after a
most delightful walk on deck in the afternoon, and comfortable tea, we
retired for the night, and did not wake till we bumped on the Charleston
bar on the morning of Christmas-day.

The _William Seabrook_, the boat which is to convey us from hence to
Savannah, only goes once a week.... This unfrequent communication
between the principal cities of the great Southern States is rather a
curious contrast to the almost unintermitting intercourse which goes on
between the northern towns. The boat itself, too, is a species of small
monopoly, being built and chiefly used for the convenience of certain
wealthy planters residing on Edisto Island, a small insulated tract
between Charleston and Savannah, where the finest cotton that is raised
in this country grows. This city is the oldest I have yet seen in
America--I should think it must be the oldest in it. I cannot say that
the first impression produced by the wharf at which we landed, or the
streets we drove through in reaching our hotel, was particularly lively.
Rickety, dark, dirty, tumble-down streets and warehouses, with every now
and then a mansion of loftier pretensions, but equally neglected and
ruinous in its appearance, would probably not have been objects of
special admiration to many people on this side the water; but I belong
to that infirm, decrepit, bedridden old country, England, and must
acknowledge, with a blush for the stupidity of the prejudice, that it is
so very long since I have seen anything old, that the lower streets of
Charleston, in all their dinginess and decay, were a refreshment and a
rest to my spirit.

I have had a perfect red-brick-and-white-board fever ever since I came
to this country; and once more to see a house which looks as if it had
stood long enough to get warmed through, is a balm to my senses,
oppressed with newness. Boston had two or three fine old
dwelling-houses, with antique gardens and old-fashioned court-yards; but
they have come down to the dust before the improving spirit of the age.
One would think, that after ten years a house gets weak in the knees.
Perhaps these houses do; but I have lodged under roof-trees that have
stood hundreds of years, and may stand hundreds more,--marry, they have
good foundations.

In walking about Charleston, I was forcibly reminded of some of the
older country towns in England--of Southampton a little. The appearance
of the city is highly picturesque, a word which can apply to none other
American towns; and although the place is certainly pervaded with an air
of decay, 'tis a genteel infirmity, as might be that of a distressed
elderly gentlewoman. It has none of the smug mercantile primness of the
northern cities, but a look of state, as of quondam wealth and
importance, a little gone down in the world, yet remembering still its
former dignity. The northern towns, compared with it, are as the spruce
citizen rattling by the faded splendors of an old family-coach in his
newfangled chariot--they certainly have got on before it. Charleston has
an air of eccentricity, too, and peculiarity, which formerly were not
deemed unbecoming the well-born and well-bred gentlewoman, which her
gentility itself sanctioned and warranted--none of the vulgar dread of
vulgar opinion, forcing those who are possessed by it to conform to a
general standard of manners, unable to conceive one peculiar to
itself,--this "what-'ll-Mrs.-Grundy-say" devotion to conformity in small
things and great, which pervades the American body-social from the
matter of church-going to the trimming of women's petticoats,--this
dread of singularity, which has eaten up all individuality amongst them,
and makes their population like so many moral and mental lithographs,
and their houses like so many thousand hideous brick-twins.

I believe I am getting excited; but the fact is, that being politically
the most free people on earth, the Americans are socially the least so;
and it seems as though, ever since that little affair of establishing
their independence among nations, which they managed so successfully,
every American mother's son of them has been doing his best to divest
himself of his own private share of that great public blessing, liberty.

But to return to Charleston. It is in this respect a far more
aristocratic (should I not say democratic?) city than any I have yet
seen in America, inasmuch as every house seems built to the owner's
particular taste; and in one street you seem to be in an old English
town, and in another in some continental city of France or Italy. This
variety is extremely pleasing to the eye; not less so is the
intermixture of trees with the buildings, almost every house being
adorned, and gracefully screened, by the beautiful foliage of evergreen
shrubs. These, like ministering angels, cloak with nature's kindly
ornaments the ruins and decays of the mansions they surround; and the
latter, time-mellowed (I will not say stained, and a painter knows the
difference), harmonize in their forms and coloring with the trees, in a
manner most delightful to an eye that knows how to appreciate this
species of beauty.

There are several public buildings of considerable architectural
pretensions in Charleston, all of them apparently of some antiquity (for
the New World), except a very large and handsome edifice which is not
yet completed, and which, upon inquiry, we found was intended for a
guard-house. Its very extensive dimensions excited our surprise; but a
man who was at work about it, and who answered our questions with a good
deal of intelligence, informed us that it was by no means larger than
the necessities of the city required; for that they not unfrequently had
between fifty and sixty persons (colored and white) brought in by the
patrol in one night.

"But," objected we, "the colored people are not allowed to go out
without passes after nine o'clock."

"Yes," replied our informant, "but they will do it, nevertheless; and
every night numbers are brought in who have been caught endeavoring to
evade the patrol."

This explained to me the meaning of a most ominous tolling of bells and
beating of drums, which, on the first evening of my arrival in
Charleston, made me almost fancy myself in one of the old fortified
frontier towns of the Continent where the tocsin is sounded, and the
evening drum beaten, and the guard set as regularly every night as if an
invasion were expected. In Charleston, however, it is not the dread of
foreign invasion, but of domestic insurrection, which occasions these
nightly precautions; and, for the first time since my residence in this
free country, the curfew (now obsolete in mine, except in some remote
districts, where the ringing of an old church-bell at sunset is all that
remains of the tyrannous custom) recalled the associations of early
feudal times, and the oppressive insecurity of our Norman conquerors.
But truly it seemed rather anomalous hereabouts, and nowadays; though,
of course, it is very necessary where a large class of persons exists in
the very bosom of a community whose interests are known to be at
variance and incompatible with those of its other members. And no doubt
these daily and nightly precautions are but trifling drawbacks upon the
manifold blessings of slavery (for which, if you are stupid, and cannot
conceive them, see the late Governor M'Duffy's speeches); still I should
prefer going to sleep without the apprehension of my servants cutting my
throat in my bed, even to having a guard provided to prevent their doing
so. However, this peculiar prejudice of mine may spring from the fact of
my having known many instances in which servants were the trusted and
most trustworthy friends of their employers, and entertaining, besides,
some odd notions of the reciprocal duties of _all_ the members of
families one towards the other.

The extreme emptiness which I observed in the streets, and absence of
anything like bustle or business, is chiefly owing to the season, which
the inhabitants of Charleston, with something akin to old English
feeling, generally spend in hospitable festivity upon their estates; a
goodly custom, at least in my mind. It is so rare for any of the
wealthier people to remain in town at Christmas, that poor Miss ----,
who had come on with us to pay a visit to some friends, was not a little
relieved to find that they were (contrary to their custom) still in the
city. I went to take my usual walk this morning, and found that the good
citizens of Charleston were providing themselves with a most delightful
promenade upon the river, a fine, broad, well-paved esplanade, of
considerable length, open to the water on one side, and on the other
overlooked by some very large and picturesque old houses, whose piazzas,
arches, and sheltering evergreens reminded me of buildings in the
vicinity of Naples. This delightful walk is not yet finished, and I
fear, when it is, it will be little frequented; for the southern women,
by their own account, are miserable pedestrians,--of which fact, indeed,
I had one curious illustration to-day; for I received a visit from a
young lady residing in the same street where we lodged, who came in her
carriage, a distance of less than a quarter of a mile, to call upon me.

It is impossible to conceive anything funnier, and at the same time more
provokingly stupid, dirty, and inefficient, than the tribe of
black-faced heathen divinities and classicalities who make believe to
wait upon us here,--the Dianas, Phillises, Floras, Cæsars, et cetera,
who stand grinning in wonderment and delight round our table, and whom I
find it impossible, by exhortation or entreaty, to banish from the room,
so great is their amusement and curiosity at my outlandish modes of
proceeding. This morning, upon my entreating them not to persist in
waiting upon us at breakfast, they burst into an ungovernable titter,
and withdrawing from our immediate vicinity, kept poking their woolly
heads and white grinders in at the door every five minutes, keeping it
conveniently open for that purpose.

A fine large new hotel was among the buildings which the late fire at
Charleston destroyed, and the house where we now are is the best at
present in the city. It is kept by a very obliging and civil colored
woman, who seems extremely desirous of accommodating us to our minds;
but her servants (they are her slaves, in spite of her and their common
complexion) would defy the orderly genius of the superintendent of the
Astor House. Their laziness, their filthiness, their inconceivable
stupidity, and unconquerable good humor, are enough to drive one stark,
staring mad. The sitting-room we occupy is spacious, and not
ill-furnished, and especially airy, having four windows and a door, none
of which can or will shut. We are fortunately rid of that familiar
fiend of the North, the anthracite coal, but do not enjoy the luxury of
burning wood. Bituminous coal, such as is generally used in England, is
the combustible preferred here; and all my national predilections cannot
reconcile me to it, in preference to the brilliant, cheerful, wholesome,
poetical warmth of a wood fire. Our bedrooms are dismal dens, open to
"a' the airts the wind can blaw," half furnished, and not by any means
half clean. The furniture itself is old, and very infirm,--the tables
all peach with one or other leg,--the chairs are most of them minus one
or two bars,--the tongs cross their feet when you attempt to use
them,--and one poker travels from room to room, that being our whole
allowance for two fires.

We have had occasion to make only two trifling purchases since we have
been here; but the prices (if these articles are any criterion) must be
infinitely higher than those of the northern shopkeepers; but this we
must expect as we go further south, for, of course, they have to pay
double profits upon all the commonest necessaries of life, importing
them, as they do, from distant districts. I must record a curious
observation of Margery's, on her return from church Tuesday morning. She
asked me if the people of this place were not very proud. I was struck
with the question, as coinciding with a remark sometimes made upon the
South, and supposed by some far-fetching cause-hunters to have its
origin in some of their "domestic institutions." I told her that I knew
no more of them than she did; and that I had had no opportunity of
observing whether they were or not.

"Well," she replied, "I think they are, for I was in church early, and I
observed the countenances and manner of the people as they came in, and
they struck me as the haughtiest, proudest-looking people I ever saw!"

This very curious piece of observation of hers I note down without
comment. I asked her if she had ever heard, or read, the remark as
applied to the southern people? She said, "Never," and I was much amused
at this result of her physiognomical church speculations.

Last Thursday evening we left our hotel in Charleston, for the steamboat
which was to carry us to Savannah: it was not to start until two in the
morning; but, of course, we preferred going on board rather earlier, and
getting to bed. The ladies' cabin, however, was so crowded with women
and children, and so inconveniently small, that sleeping was out of the
question in such an atmosphere. I derived much amusement from the very
empress-like airs of an uncommonly handsome mulatto woman, who
officiated as stewardess, but whose discharge of her duties appeared to
consist in telling the ladies what they ought, and what they ought not
to do, and lounging about with an indolent dignity, which was
irresistibly droll, and peculiarly Southern.

The boat in which we were, not being considered sea-worthy, as she is
rather old, took the inner passage, by which we were two nights and a
day accomplishing this most tedious navigation, creeping through cuts
and small muddy rivers, where we stuck sometimes to the bottom, and
sometimes to the banks, which presented a most dismal succession of
dingy, low, yellow swamps, and reedy marshes, beyond expression
wearisome to the eye. About the middle of the day on Friday, we touched
at the island of Edisto, where some of the gentlemen-passengers had
business, that being the seat of their plantations, and where the
several families reside--after the eldest member of which, Mr. Seabrook,
the boat we were in was named.

Edisto, as I have mentioned before, is famous for producing the finest
cotton in America--therefore, I suppose, in the world. As we were to
wait here some time, we went on shore to walk. The appearance of the
cotton-fields at this season of the year was barren enough; but, as a
compensation, I here, for the first time, saw the evergreen oak-trees
(the ilex, I presume) of the South. They were not very fine specimens of
their kind, and disappointed me a good deal. The advantage they have of
being evergreen is counterbalanced by the dark and almost dingy color of
the foliage, and the leaf being minute in size, and not particularly
graceful in form. These trees appeared to me far from comparable, either
in size or beauty, to the European oak, when it has attained its full
growth. We were walking on the estate of one of the Mr. Seabrooks, which
lay unenclosed on each side of what appeared to be the public road
through the island.

At a short distance from the landing we came to what is termed a
ginning-house--a building appropriated to the process of freeing the
cotton from the seed. It appeared to be open to inspection; and we
walked through it. Here were about eight or ten stalls on either side,
in each of which a man was employed at a machine, worked like a turner's
or knife-grinder's wheel, by the foot, which, as fast as he fed it with
cotton, parted the snowy flakes from the little black first cause, and
gave them forth soft, silky, clean, and fit to be woven into the finest
lace or muslin. This same process of ginning is performed in many
places, and upon our own cotton-estate, by machinery; the objection to
which however, is, that the staple of the cotton--in the length of
which consists its chief excellence--is supposed by some planters to be
injured, and the threads broken, by the substitution of an engine for
the task performed by the human fingers in separating the cotton and
presenting it to the gin.

After walking through this building, we pursued our way past a large,
rambling, white wood house, and down a road, bordered on each side with
evergreen oaks. While we were walking, a young man on horseback passed
us, whose light hair, in a very picturesque contempt of modern fashion,
absolutely flowed upon the collar of his coat, and was blown back as he
rode, like the disheveled tresses of a woman. On Edisto Island such a
noble exhibition of individuality would probably find few censors.

As we returned towards the boat we stopped to examine an irregular
scrambling hedge of the wild orange, another of the exquisite shrubs of
this paradise of evergreens. The form and foliage of this plant are
beautiful, and the leaf, being bruised, extremely fragrant; but, as its
perfume indicates, it is a rank poison, containing a great portion of
prussic acid. It grows from cuttings rapidly and freely, and might be
formed into the most perfect hedge, being well adapted, by its close,
bushy growth, to that purpose.

After leaving Edisto, we pursued the same tedious, meandering course,
over turbid waters, and between low-lying swamps, till the evening
closed in. The afternoon had been foggy and rainy and wretched. The
cabin was darkened by the various outer protections against the weather,
so that we could neither read nor work. Our party, on leaving the
island, had received an addition of some young ladies, who were to go on
shore again in the middle of the night, at a stopping-place called
Hilton Head. As they did not intend to sleep, they seemed to have no
idea of allowing any one else to do so; and the giggling and chattering
with which they enlivened the dreary watches of the night, certainly
rendered anything like repose impossible; so I lay, devoutly wishing for
Hilton Head, where the boat stopped between one and two in the morning.
I had just time to see our boarding-school angels leave us, and a
monstrous awkward-looking woman, who at first struck me as a man in
disguise, enter the cabin, before my eyes sealed themselves in sleep,
which had been hovering over them, kept aloof only by the incessant
conversational racket of my young fellow-travelers.

I was extremely amused at two little incidents which occurred the next
morning before we were called to breakfast. The extraordinary-looking
woman who came into the boat during the night, and who was the most
masculine-looking lady I ever saw, came and stood by me, and, seeing me
nursing my baby, abruptly addressed me with "Got a baby with you?" I
replied in the affirmative, which trouble her eyes might have spared me.
After a few minutes' silence, she pursued her unceremonious catechism
with "Married woman?" This question was so exceedingly strange, though
put in the most matter-of-course sort of way, that I suppose my surprise
exhibited itself in my countenance, for the lady presently left me--not,
however, appearing to imagine that she had said or done anything at all
unusual. The other circumstance which amused me was to hear another lady
observe to her neighbor, on seeing Margery bathing my children (a
ceremony never omitted night and morning, where water can be procured);
"How excessively ridiculous!" Which same worthy lady, on leaving the
boat at Savannah, exclaimed, as she huddled on her cloak, that she never
had felt so "_mean_ in her life!" and, considering that she had gone to
bed two nights with the greater part of her day clothes on her, and had
abstained from any "ridiculous" ablutions, her _mean_ sensations did
not, I confess, much surprise me.

When the boat stopped at Savannah, it poured with rain; and in a perfect
deluge, we drove up to the Pulaski House, thankful to escape from the
tedious confinement of a _slow_ steamboat,--an intolerable nuisance and
anomaly in the nature of things. The hotel was, comparatively speaking,
very comfortable; infinitely superior to the one where we had lodged at
Charleston, as far as bed accommodations went. Here, too, we obtained
the inestimable luxury of a warm bath; and the only disagreeable thing
we had to encounter was that all but universal pest in this crowd-loving
country, a public table. This is always a trial of the first water to
me; and that day particularly I was fatigued, and out of spirits, and
the din and confusion of a long _table d'hôte_ was perfectly
intolerable, in spite of the assiduous attentions of a tiresome worthy
old gentleman, who sat by me and persisted in endeavoring to make me
talk. Finding me impracticable, however, he turned, at length, in
despair, to the hostess, who sat at the head of her table, and inquired
in a most audible voice if it were true, as he had understood, that Mr.
and Mrs. Butler were in the hotel? This, of course, occasioned some
little amusement; and the good old gentleman being informed that I was
sitting at his elbow, went off into perfect convulsions of apologies,
and renewed his exertions to make me discourse, with more zeal than
ever, asking me, among other things, when he had ascertained that I had
never before been to the South, "How I liked the appearance of 'our
blackies' (the negroes)?--no want of cheerfulness, no despondency, or
misery in their appearance, eh, madam?" As I thought this was rather
begging the question, I did not trouble the gentleman with my
impressions. He was a Scotchman, and his adoption of "our blackies" was,
by his own account, rather recent, to be so perfectly satisfactory; at
least, so it seems to me, who have some small prejudices in favor of
freedom and justice yet to overcome, before I can enter into all the
merits of this beneficent system, so productive of cheerfulness and
contentment in those whom it condemns to perpetual degradation.

Our night-wanderings were not yet ended, for the steamer in which we
were to proceed to Darien was to start at ten o'clock that evening, so
that we had but a short interval of repose at this same Pulaski House,
and I felt sorry to leave it, in proportion to the uncertainty of our
meeting with better accommodation for a long time. The _Ocmulgee_ (the
Indian name of a river in Georgia, and the cognomen of our steamboat)
was a tiny, tidy little vessel, the exceeding small ladies' cabin of
which we, fortunately, had entirely to ourselves.

On Sunday morning the day broke most brilliantly over those southern
waters, and as the sun rose, the atmosphere became clear and warm, as in
the early northern summer. We crossed two or three sounds of the sea.
The land in sight was a mere forest of reeds, and the fresh, sparkling,
crisping waters had a thousand times more variety and beauty. At the
mouth of the Altamaha is a small cluster of houses, scarce deserving the
name of a village, called Doboy. At the wharf lay two trading-vessels;
the one with the harp of Ireland waving on her flag; the other with the
union-jack flying at her mast. I felt vehemently stirred to hail the
beloved symbol; but, upon reflection, forbore outward demonstrations of
the affectionate yearnings of my heart towards the flag of England, and
so we boiled by them into this vast volume of turbid waters, whose noble
width, and rapid rolling current, seem appropriately called by that most
euphonious and sonorous of Indian names, the Alatamaha, which, in the
common mode of speaking it, gains by the loss of the second syllable,
and becomes more agreeable to the ear, as it is usually pronounced, the

On either side lay the low, reedy swamps, yellow, withered Lilliputian
forests, rattling their brittle canes in the morning breeze.... Through
these dreary banks we wound a most sinuous course for a long time; at
length the irregular buildings of the little town of Darien appeared,
and as we grazed the side of the wharf, it seemed to me as if we had
touched the outer bound of civilized creation. As soon as we showed
ourselves on the deck we were hailed by a shout from the men in two
pretty boats, which had pulled alongside of us; and the vociferations of
"Oh, massa! how you do, massa? Oh, missis! oh! lily missis! me too glad
to see you!" accompanied with certain interjectional shrieks, whoops,
whistles, and grunts, that could only be written down in negro language,
made me aware of our vicinity to our journey's end. The strangeness of
the whole scene, its wildness (for now beyond the broad river and the
low swamp lands the savage-looking woods arose to meet the horizon), the
rapid retrospect which my mind hurried through of the few past years of
my life; the singular contrasts which they presented to my memory; the
affectionate shouts of welcome of the poor people, who seemed to hail us
as descending divinities, affected me so much that I burst into tears,
and could hardly answer their demonstrations of delight. We were
presently transferred into the larger boat, and the smaller one being
freighted with our luggage, we pulled off from Darien, not, however,
without a sage remark from Margery, that, though we seemed to have
traveled to the very end of the world, here yet were people and houses,
ships, and even steamboats; in which evidences that we were not to be
plunged into the deepest abysses of savageness she seemed to take no
small comfort.

We crossed the river, and entered a small arm of it, which presently
became still narrower and more straight, assuming the appearance of an
artificial cut or canal, which indeed it is, having been dug by General
Oglethorpe's men (tradition says, in one night), and afforded him the
only means of escape from the Spaniards and Indians, who had surrounded
him on all sides, and felt secure against all possibility of his eluding
them. The cut is neither very deep nor very long, and yet both
sufficiently to render the general's exploit rather marvelous. General
Oglethorpe was the first British governor of Georgia; Wesley's friend
and disciple. The banks of this little canal were mere dykes, guarding
rice-swamps, and presented no species of beauty; but in the little
creek, or inlet, from which we entered it, I was charmed with the beauty
and variety of the evergreens growing in thick and luxuriant underwood,
beneath giant, straggling cypress trees, whose branches were almost
covered with the pendant wreaths of gray moss peculiar to these southern
woods. Of all parasitical plants (if, indeed, it properly belongs to
that class) it assuredly is the most melancholy and dismal. All
creepers, from the polished, dark-leaved ivy, to the delicate clematis,
destroy some portion of the strength of the trees around which they
cling, and from which they gradually suck the vital juices; but they, at
least, adorn the forest-shafts round which they twine, and hide, with a
false, smiling beauty, the gradual ruin and decay they make. Not so this
dismal moss: it does not appear to grow, or to have root, or even
clinging fibre of any sort, by which it attaches itself to the bark or
stem. It hangs in dark gray, drooping masses from the boughs, swinging
in every breeze like matted, grizzled hair. I have seen a naked cypress
with its straggling arms all hung with this banner of death, looking
like a gigantic tree of monstrous cobwebs,--the most funereal spectacle
in all the vegetable kingdom.

After emerging from the cut, we crossed another arm of the Altamaha (it
has as many as Briareus)--I should rather, perhaps, call them mouths,
for this is near its confluence with the sea, and these various branches
are formed by a numerous sisterhood of small islands, which divide this
noble river into three or four streams, each of them wider than
England's widest, the Thames. We now approached the low, reedy banks of
Butler's Island, and passed the rice-mill and buildings surrounding it,
all of which, it being Sunday, were closed. As we neared the bank, the
steersman took up a huge conch, and in the barbaric fashion of early
times in the Highlands, sounded out our approach. A pretty schooner,
which carries the produce of the estate to Charleston and Savannah, lay
alongside the wharf, which began to be crowded with negroes, jumping,
dancing, shouting, laughing, and clapping their hands (a usual
expression of delight with savages and children), and using the most
extravagant and ludicrous gesticulations to express their ecstasy at our

On our landing from the boat, the crowd thronged about us like a swarm
of bees; we were seized, pulled, pushed, carried, dragged, and all but
lifted in the air by the clamorous multitude. I was afraid my children
would be smothered. Fortunately, Mr. O----, the overseer, and the
captain of the little craft above-mentioned, came to our assistance, and
by their good offices the babies and nurse were protected through the
crowd. They seized our clothes, kissed them--then our hands, and almost
wrung them off. One tall, gaunt negress flew to us, parting the throng
on either side, and embraced us in her arms. I believe I was almost
frightened; and it was not until we were safely housed, and the door
shut upon our riotous escort, that we indulged in a fit of laughing,
quite as full, on my part, of nervousness as of amusement. Later in the
day I attempted to take some exercise, and thought I had escaped
observation; but, before I had proceeded a quarter of a mile, I was
again enveloped in a cloud of these dingy dependents, who gathered
round me, clamoring welcome, staring at me, stroking my velvet pelisse,
and exhibiting at once the wildest delight and the most savage
curiosity. I was obliged to relinquish my proposed walk, and return
home. Nor was the door of the room where I sat, and which was purposely
left open, one moment free from crowds of eager faces, watching every
movement of myself and the children, until evening caused our audience
to disperse. This zeal in behalf of an utter stranger, merely because
she stood to them in the relation of a mistress, caused me not a little
speculation. These poor people, however, have a very distinct notion of
the duties which ownership should entail upon their proprietors, however
these latter may regard their obligation towards their dependents; and
as to their vehement professions of regard and affection for me, they
reminded me of the saying of the satirist, that "gratitude is a lively
sense of benefits to come."

                            BUTLER'S ISLAND, GEORGIA, January 8th, 1839.

I have some doubt whether any exertion whatever of your imaginative
faculties could help you to my whereabouts or whatabouts this day,
dearest Emily; and therefore, for your enlightenment, will refer you to
my date, and inform you that yesterday I paid my first visit to the Sick
House, or infirmary, of our estate; and this morning spent three hours
and a half there, cleaning with my own hands the filthy room where the
sick lay, and washing and dressing poor little nearly new-born negro
babies. My avocations the whole morning have been those of a sister of
charity, and I doubt if the unwearied and unshrinking benevolence of
those pious creatures ever led them, for their souls' sake, into more
abominable receptacles of filth, degradation, and misery.

It is long enough since I first mentioned to you my intention of coming
down to these plantations, if I was permitted to do so. As the time for
setting forth on our journey drew near, I became not a little appalled
at the details I heard of what were likely to be the difficulties of the
mere journey: at the very end of December, with a baby at the breast,
and a child as young as S----, to travel upwards of a thousand miles, in
this half-civilized country, and through the least civilized part of it,
was no joke. However, happily, it was accomplished safely, though not
without considerable suffering and heart-achings on my part.... These
and other befallings may serve for talking matter, if ever we should
meet again. We all arrived here safely on Sunday last, and my thoughts
are engrossed with the condition of these people, from whose labor we
draw our subsistence; of which, now that I am here, I feel ashamed.

The place itself is one of the wildest corners of creation--if, indeed,
any part of this region can be considered as thoroughly _created_ yet.
It is not consolidated, but in mere process of formation,--a sort of
hasty-pudding of amphibious elements, composed of a huge, rolling river,
thick and turbid with mud, and stretches of mud banks, forming quaking
swamps, scarcely reclaimed from the water. The river wants _straining_
and the land draining, to make either of them properly wet or dry.

This island, which is only a portion of our Georgia estate, contains
several thousand acres, and is about eight miles round, and formed of
nothing but the deposits (leavings, in fact) of the Altamaha, whose
brimming waters, all thick with alluvial matter, roll round it, and
every now and then threaten to submerge it. The whole island is swamp,
dyked like the Netherlands, and trenched and divided by ditches and a
canal, by means of which the rice-fields are periodically overflowed,
and the harvest transported to the threshing mills. A duck, an eel, or a
frog might live here as in Paradise; but a creature of dry habits
naturally pines for less wet. To mount a horse is, of course,
impossible, and the only place where one can walk is the banks or dykes
that surround the island, and the smaller ones that divide the

I mean to take to rowing, boats being plentiful, and "water, water
everywhere"; indeed, in spring, the overseer tells me we may have to go
from house to house in boats, the whole island being often flooded at
that season.

There is neither shade nor shelter, tree nor herbage, round our
residence, though there is no reason why there should not be; for the
climate is delicious, and the swampy borders of the mainland are full of
every kind of evergreen--magnolias, live oak (a species of ilex),
orange-trees, etc., and trailing shrubs, with varnished leaves, that
bind the tawny, rattling sedges together, and make summer bowers for the
alligators and snakes which abound and disport themselves here in the
hot season.

I am wrong in saying that there are no trees on the island, though there
are as bad as none now. They formerly had a great number of magnificent
orange-trees, that were all destroyed by an unusually severe winter;
there are a few left, however, which bear most excellent oranges....

                                     BUTLER'S ISLAND, January 8th, 1839.

The stars are shining like one vast incrustation of diamonds; and though
'tis the 8th of January, I have been out with bare neck and arms,
standing on the brink of the Altamaha, and seeking relief from the
oppressive heat of the house. I am here, with the children, in the midst
of our slaves; and it seems to me, as I look over these wild wastes and
waters, as though I were standing on the outer edge of creation. That
this is not absolutely the case, however, or that, if it is,
civilization in some forms has preceded us hither, is abundantly proved
by the sights and sounds of busy traffic, labor, and mechanical
industry, which, encountered in this region (still really half a
wilderness), produce an impression of the most curiously anomalous
existence you can imagine.

Right and left, as the eye follows the broad and brimming surface of
this vast body of turbid water, it rests on nothing but low swamp lands,
where the rattling sedges, like a tawny forest of reeds, make warm
winter shelters for the snakes and alligators, which the summer sun will
lure in scores from their lurking-places; or hoary woods, upon whose
straggling upper boughs, all hung with gray mosses like disheveled hair,
the bald-headed eagle stoops from the sky, and among whose undergrowth
of varnished evergreens the mocking-birds, even at this season, keep a
resounding jubilee. All this looks wild enough; and as the peculiar
orange light of the southern sunset falls upon the scene, I almost
expect to see the canoes of the red man shoot from the banks, which were
so lately the possession of his race alone. Immediately opposite to me,
however (only about a mile distant, the river and a swampy island
intervening), lies the little town of Darien, whose white gable-ended
warehouses, shining in the sun, recall the presence of the prevailing
European race, and we can hear distinctly the sound of the steam which
the steamboat at the wharf is letting off.

Upon this island of ours (I think I look a little like Sancho Panza) we
enjoy the perpetual monotonous burden of two steam-engines working the
rice mills, and instead of red men and canoes, my illustrious self and
some prettily built and gaily painted boats, which I take great delight
in rowing.

The strangeness of this existence surprises me afresh every hour by its
contrast with all my former experiences; and as I sat resting on my oars
at the Darien wharf the other evening, watching a huge cotton-raft float
down the broad Altamaha, my mind wandered back to my former life--the
scenes, the people, the events, the feelings which made up all my
former existence; and I felt like the little old woman whose petticoats
were cut all round about. "O Lord a mercy! sure this is never I!" But,
then, she had a resource in her dog, which I have not; and so I am not
quite sure that it is I....

The climate is too warm for me, and I almost doubt its being as
wholesome for the children as a colder one. We have now summer heat,
tempered in some degree by breezes from the river and the sea, which is
only fifteen miles off; but the people of the place complain of the
cold, and apologize to me for the chilliness of the weather, which they
assure me is quite unusual. I have come home more than once, however,
after a walk round the rice banks, with a bad headache, in consequence
of the fierce sunshine pouring down upon these swamps, and do not think
that I should thrive in such a climate. It is impossible here to take
exercise on horseback, which has become almost indispensable to me; and
though I have adopted rowing as a substitute I find it both a fatiguing
and an inadequate one.

We live here in a very strange manner. The house we inhabit, which was
intended merely as the overseer's residence, is inferior in appearance
and every decent accommodation to the poorest farm-house in any part of
England. Neither cleanliness nor comfort enter into our daily
arrangements at all. The little furniture there is in the rooms is of
the coarsest and roughest description; and the household services are
performed by negroes, who run in and out, generally barefooted, and
always filthy both in their clothes and person, to wait upon us at our
meals. How I have wished for a decent, tidy, English servant of all
work, instead of these begrimed, ignorant, incapable poor creatures, who
stumble about round us in zealous hindrance of each other, which they
intend for help to us. How thankful I should be if I could substitute
for their unsavory proximity while I eat, that of a clean dumb waiter.
This unlimited supply of untrained savages, (for that is what they
really are) is anything but a luxury to me. Their ignorance, dirt, and
stupidity seem to me as intolerable as the unjust laws which condemn
them to be ignorant, filthy, and stupid.

The value of this human property is, alas! enormous; and I grieve to
think how great is the temptation to perpetuate the system to its
owners. Of course I do not see, or at any rate have not yet seen,
anything to shock me in the way of positive physical cruelty. The
refractory negroes are flogged, I know, but I am told it is a case of
rare occurrence; and it is the injustice, and the kind, rather than the
severity, of the infliction that is the most odious part of it to me.
The people are, I believe, regularly and sufficiently fed and clothed,
and they have tolerably good habitations provided for them, nor are they
without various small indulgences; but of their moral and intellectual
wants no heed whatever is taken, nor are they even recognized as
existing, though some of these poor people exhibit intelligence,
industry, and activity, which seem to cry aloud for instruction and the
means of progress and development. These are probably rare exceptions,
though, for the majority of those I see appear to be sunk in the lowest
slough of benighted ignorance, and lead a lazy, listless, absolutely
animal existence, far more dirty and degraded (though more comfortable,
on account of the climate) than that of _your_ lowest and most miserable
wild "bog trotters."

I had desired very earnestly to have the opportunity of judging of this
matter of slavery for myself; not, of course, that I ever doubted that
to keep human beings as slaves was in itself wrong, but I supposed that
I might, upon a nearer observation of the system, discover at any rate
circumstances of palliation in the condition of the negroes: hitherto,
however, this has not been the case with me; the wrong strikes me more
forcibly every hour I live here. The theory of human property is more
revolting to every sentiment of humanity; and the evil effect of such a
state of things _upon the whites_, who inflict the wrong, impresses me
as I did not anticipate that it would, with still more force.

The habitual harsh tone of command towards these men and _women_, whose
labor is extorted from them without remorse, from youth to age, and
whose hopeless existence seems to me sadder than suffering itself,
affects me with an intolerable sense of impotent pity for them.... Then,
too, the disrepute in which honest and honorable labor is held, by being
thus practiced only by a degraded class, is most pernicious.

The negroes here, who see me row and walk hard in the sun, lift heavy
burthens, and make various exertions which are supposed to be their
peculiar _privilege_ in existence, frequently remonstrate with me, and
desire me to call upon them for their services, with the remark, "What
for you work, missus! You hab niggers enough to wait upon you!" You may
suppose how agreeable such remonstrances are to me.

When I remember, too, that here I see none of the worst features of this
system: that the slaves on this estate are not bought and sold, nor let
out to hire to other masters; that they are not cruelly starved or
barbarously beaten, and that members of one family are not parted from
each other for life, and sent to distant plantations in other
States,--all which liabilities (besides others, and far worse ones)
belong of right, or rather of wrong, to their condition as slaves, and
are commonly practiced throughout the southern half of this free
country,--I remain appalled at a state of things in which human beings
are considered fortunate who are _only_ condemned to dirt, ignorance,
unrequited labor, and, what seems to me worst of all, a dead level of
general degradation, which God and Nature, by endowing some above
others, have manifestly forbidden.

Do you remember your admiration of philanthropy because I blew the dirty
nose of a little vagabond in the street with my embroidered
handkerchief? I wish you could see me cleansing and washing and
poulticing the sick women and babies in the infirmary here; I think you
would admit that I have what Beatrice commends Benedict for, "an
excellent stomach."

God bless you, dear! I am not well; this slavish sunshine dries up my
vitality. I have hardly any time for writing, but shall find it to write
to you.

                              Ever affectionately yours,
                                                                F. A. B.

                                    BUTLER'S ISLAND, January 20th, 1839.

To you who have, besides "swimming in a gondola" (which many of the
vulgar do nowadays), paddled in a canoe upon the wild waters of this
wild western world, my present abode, savage as it seems to me, might
appear comparatively civilized. Certain it is that we are within view of
what calls itself a town, and, moreover, from that town I have received
an invitation to what calls itself a _cotillon party_! and yet, right
and left, stretch the swamps and forests of Georgia, where the red men
have scarcely ceased to skulk, and where the rattlesnakes and
alligators, who shared the wilderness with them, still lurk in
undisturbed possession of the soil, if soil that may be called which is
only either muddy water or watery mud, a hardly consolidated sponge of
alluvial matter, receiving hourly additions from the turbid current of
the Altamaha.

We are here on our plantation, and if you will take a map of North
America, and a powerful magnifying-glass, you may perceive the small
speck dignified by the title of "Butler's Island," the Barataria where I
am now reigning.

Before I say any more upon this subject, however, I wish to thank you
for your kind information about my father and sister. I had a letter
from her not long ago, but it was written during her tour in Germany,
before our poor mother's death, and, of course, contained little of what
must be her present thoughts and feelings, and even little indeed by
which I could understand what their plans were for the winter; but a
long and very interesting account of your friends, the Thuns, whom I
should like to know....

How little pleasure you lost, in my opinion, in not proceeding further
south in this country! for your perception of beauty would have been
almost as much starved as your sense of justice would have been
outraged; at least it is so with me. The sky, God's ever blessed
storehouse of light and loveliness, is almost my only resource here: for
though the wide, brimming waters of this Briareus of a river present a
striking object, and the woods, with their curtains of gray moss waving
like gigantic cobwebs from every tree, and these magical-looking
thickets of varnished evergreens, have a charm, partly real, and partly
borrowed from their mere strangeness; yet the absence of all cultivation
but these swampy rice-fields, and of all population but these degraded
and unfortunate slaves, render a residence here as depressing to the
physical as the moral sense of loveliness.

In contemplating the condition of women generally (a favorite subject of
speculation with you, I know), it is a pity that you have not an
opportunity of seeing the situation of those who are recognized as
slaves (all that are such don't wear the collar, you know, nor do all
that wear it show it); it is a black chapter, and no _joke_, I can tell

You ask after the Sullys, and I am sorry to say that the little I saw or
heard of them previous to my leaving Philadelphia was not pleasant. He
had had some disagreeable contention with the St. George's Society about
the exhibition of his picture of the queen. The dispute ended, I
believe, in his painting two; the one for the society, and the other for
his own purposes of exhibition, sale or engraving. He spoke with delight
of having made your acquaintance, and of some evenings he spent at your
house. I think it very probable that he will revisit Europe; and I hope
for his sake that he will get to Italy....

                                                                F. A. B.

                           BUTLER'S ISLAND, Georgia, January 30th, 1839.

I am told that a total change in my opinions upon slavery was
anticipated from my residence on a plantation; a statement which only
convinces me that one may live in the most intimate relations with
one's fellow-creatures, and really know nothing about them after all. On
what ground such an idea could be entertained I cannot conceive, or on
what part of my character it could be founded, to which (if I do not
mistake myself, even more than I am misunderstood by others) injustice
is the most revolting species of cruelty.

My dear friend, do not, do not repine, but rather rejoice for your
brother's own sake, that wealth is cut off from him at such a source as
slavery. [Mr. Fitzhugh had owned West Indian property, which his sister
thought had been rendered worthless by the emancipation of the slaves.]
It would be better in my mind to beg, and to see one's children beg,
than to live by these means, thinking of them as I do....

It seems to me as if the worst result of this system, fraught as it is
with bad ones, is the perversion of mind which it appears to engender in
those who uphold it. I remember how hard our Saviour pronounced it to be
for a rich man to enter into heaven, and as I look round upon these
rice-fields, with their population of human beings, each one of whom is
valued at so much silver and gold, and listen to the beat of that
steam-mill, which I heard commended the other day as a "mint of money,"
and when I am told that every acre of this property is worth ten per
cent. more than any free English land, however valuable, it seems almost
impossible to expect that this terrible temptation to injustice should
be resisted by any man; but with God all things are possible! and
doubtless He weighs the difficulty more mercifully than I can....

Since this letter was begun, we have had a death on the plantation; a
poor young fellow was taken off, after a few days' illness, yesterday.
The attack was one to which the negroes are very subject, arising from
cold and exposure.... We went to his burial, which was a scene I shall
not soon forget. His coffin was brought out into the open air, and the
negroes from over the whole island assembled around it. One of their
preachers (a slave like the rest) gave out the words of a hymn, which
they all sang in unison; after which he made an exhortation, and bade us
pray, and we all kneeled down on the earth together, while this poor,
ignorant slave prayed aloud and spoke incoherently, but fervently
enough, of Life and Death and Immortality. We then walked to the grave,
the negroes chanting a hymn by the light of pine torches and the
uprising of a glorious moon. An old negro, who possessed the rare and
forbidden accomplishment of letters, read part of the burial service;
and another stood forward and told them the story of the raising of
Lazarus. I have no room for comments, and could make none that could
convey to you what I felt or how I prayed and cried for those I was
praying with....

You know, I did not think my former calling of the stage a very
dignified one; I assure you it appears to me magnificent compared with
my present avocation of living by the unpaid labor of others, and those
others half of them women like myself. There is nothing in the details
of the existence of the slaves which mitigates in my opinion the sin of
slavery; and this is forced upon me every hour of the day--so painfully
to my conscience, that I feel as if my happiness for life would be
affected by my involuntary participation in it. Their condition seems to
me accursed every way, and only more accursed to those who hold them in
it, on whom the wrong they commit reacts frightfully.

Not a few of these slaves know and feel that they are wronged, deplore
their condition, and are perfectly aware of its manifold hardships.
Those who are not conscious of the robbery of their freedom and their
consequent degradation, are sunk in a state of the most brutish
ignorance and stupidity; and as for the pretense that their moral and
mental losses are made up to them by the secure possession of food and
clothing (a thing no moral and intellectual being should utter without a
blush), it is utterly false. They are hard worked, poorly clothed, and
poorly fed; and when they are sick, cared for only enough to fit them
for work again; the only calculation in the mind of an overseer being to
draw from their bones and sinews money to furnish his employer's income,
and secure him a continuance of his agency.

It is true that on this estate they are allowed some indulgence and some
leisure, and are not starved or often ill-treated; but their indulgences
and leisure are no more than just tend to keep them in a state of safe
acquiescence in their lot, and it does not do that with the brighter and
more intelligent among them. There is no attempt made to improve their
condition; to teach them decency, order, cleanliness, self-respect; to
open their minds or enlighten their understandings: on the contrary,
there are express and very severe laws forbidding their education, and
every precaution is taken to shut out the light which sooner or later
must break into their prison-house.

Dear Emily, if you could imagine how miserable I feel surrounded by
people by whose wrong I live! Some few of them are industrious, active,
and intelligent; and in their leisure time work hard to procure
themselves small comforts and luxuries, which they are allowed to buy.
How pitiable it is to think that they are defrauded of the just price
of their daily labor, and that stumbling-blocks are put in the way of
their progress, instead of its being helped forward! My mind is
inexpressibly troubled whenever I think of their minds, souls, or
bodies. Their physical condition is far from what it should be, far from
what their own exertions could make it, and there is no improving even
that without calling in mental and moral influences, a sense of
self-respect, a consciousness of responsibility, knowledge of rights to
be possessed and duties discharged, advantages employed and trusts
answered for; and how are slaves to have any of these? There is no
planting even physical improvement but in a moral soil, and the use of
the rational faculties is necessary for the fit discharge of the
commonest labor. Alas, for our slaves! and alas, alas, for us! I feel
half distracted about it, and it is well for you that I have no more
space to write on this theme.

God bless you, my dear friend. Pray, as I do, for the end of this

                                                                F. A. B.

                           BUTLER'S ISLAND, GEORGIA, February 8th, 1839.

Your letter of the 10th of November, my dear Lady Dacre, fulfilled its
kindly mission without the delay at Butler Place, the anticipation of
which did not prevent your making the benevolent effort of writing it.
It reached me in safety here, in the very hindermost skirts of
civilization, recalling with so much vividness scenes and people so
remote and so different from those that now surround me, that it would
have been a sad letter to me, even had it not contained the news of Mrs.
Sullivan's illness. At any time any suffering of yours would have
excited my sincere sympathy; but that your anxiety and distress should
spring from such a cause, I can the more readily deplore, from my
knowledge of your daughter, which, though too slight for my own
gratification, was sufficient to make me aware of her many excellent and
admirable qualities. In those books of hers, too, "Tales of a Chaperon,"
and "Tales of the Peerage and the Peasantry," which since my return to
America I have re-read with increased interest, her mind and character
reveal themselves very charmingly; and I know those in this remote
"other world," as doubtless there are many in England, who, without
enjoying my privilege of personal acquaintance with her, would be
fellow-mourners with you should any evil befall her. But I shall not
admit this apprehension, and I entreat you, my dear Lady Dacre, to add
one more to the many kindnesses you have bestowed on me, by letting me
know how it fares with your daughter. In the mean time, if she is well
enough to receive my greeting, pray remember me most kindly to her, and
tell her that from the half-savage banks of the Altamaha, those earnest
wishes, which are unspoken prayers, ascend to heaven for her recovery.

You ask after my children.... I am in no hurry to begin
_educationeering_; indeed, as regards early instruction, I am a little
behind the fervent zeal of the age, having considerably more regard for
what may be found in, than what may be put into, a human head; and a
more earnest desire that my child should think, even than that she
should learn; and I want her to make her own wisdom, rather than take
that of any one else (my own wise self not excepted). For fear, however,
that you should imagine that I mean to let her grow up "savage," I beg
to state that she does know her letters, a study which she prosecutes
with me for about a quarter of an hour daily, out of "Mother Goose's
Nursery Rhymes." I have thought myself to blame, perhaps, for choosing a
_work of imagination_ for that elementary study; but the child, like a
rational creature, abhors the whole thing most cordially, and when I
think what wondrous revelations are flowing to her hourly through those
five gates of knowledge, her senses, I am not surprised that she
despises and detests the inanimate dead letter of mere bookish lore....

My poor mother's death, which roused me most painfully to the perception
of the distance which divides me from all my early friends, has filled
my mind with the gloomiest forebodings respecting my father, and my
sister's unprotected situation, should anything befall him. The passing
away of my kindred, and those who are dear to me, while I, removed to an
impassable distance, only hear of their death after a considerable lapse
of time, without the consolation of being near them, or even the
preparation of hearing they were ill, is a circumstance of inexpressible

If Macready would give me anything for my play, I would come over, if
only for a month, and see my father, whose image in sickness and
depression haunts me constantly....

                                                                F. A. B.

                                   BUTLER'S ISLAND, February 10th, 1839.

It is only two days, I believe, dearest Harriet, since I finished a long
letter to you, but I am yet in your debt by one dated the 30th of
November, and being in the mind to pay my owings, I proceed to do so, as
honestly as I may....

I have just been hearing a long and painful discussion upon the subject
of slavery; a frequent theme, as you will easily believe, of thought and
conversation with us, now that we are living in the midst of it; and I
am assured, by those who maintain the justice of the practice of holding
slaves, that had it been otherwise than right, Christ would have
forbidden it. It is vain that I say that Christ has done so by
implication, forbidding us to do otherwise than we would be done by: I
am told in reply, that neither Christ nor his disciples having ever
denounced slavery by name as unjust, or wrong, is sufficient proof that
it is just and right; and, alas! my dear Harriet, it requires more of
the spirit of Christ than I possess to hear such assertions without
ungovernable impatience. I do not believe the people who utter them are
insincere or dishonest in stating such convictions; but I am shocked at
the indignation with which such fallacious arguments occasionally
inspires me....

I know that (this one unfortunate question excepted) some of the persons
who take these views are just men, and have a keen perception of, and
conscientious respect for, the rights of others; but the exception is
one of those perplexing moral anomalies that call for the exercise of
one's utmost forbearance in judging or condemning the opinions of
others. It seems to me, that I could tolerate an absolute moral
insensibility upon the subject better than the strange moral obliquity
of justifying this horrible system by arguments drawn from Christ's

As for me, every day makes the injustice of the principle, and the
cruelty of the practice, more intolerable to me; and but for the poor
people's own sake (to whom my presence among them is of some little use
and comfort), I would only too gladly turn my back upon the dreadful
place, and never again set foot near it.... It would not surprise me if
I was never allowed to return here, for these very conversations and
discussions upon the subject of the slave system are considered
dangerous, and justice and freedom cannot be mentioned safely here but
with closed doors and whispering voices.... I pray with all the powers
of my soul that God would enlighten these unfortunate slave-holders, and
enable them to perceive better the spirit of Christ, who they say never
denounced slavery as either an evil or sin; the evil consequences of it
to themselves are by far the worst of all. So I go struggling on with
this strange existence, and sometimes feel weary enough of it....

God bless you, dear. I believe I am going with the children to the
cotton-plantation, where I shall be able to ride again, and shall be
better in mind, body, though not estate, for my long-accustomed

                              Ever your affectionate,
                                                                F. A. B.

                                          ST. SIMON'S, March 10th, 1839.

I wish, dear Emily, I could for an instant cause a vision to rise before
you of the perfect paradise of evergreens through which I have been
opening paths on our estate, in an island called St. Simon's, lying half
in the sea and half in the Altamaha. Such noble growth of dark-leaved,
wide-spreading oaks; such exquisite natural shrubberies of magnolia,
wild myrtle, and bay, all glittering evergreens of various tints, bound
together by trailing garlands of wild jessamine, whose yellow bells,
like tiny golden cups, exhale a perfume like that of the heliotrope and
fill the air with sweetness, and cover the woods with perfect curtains
of bloom; while underneath all this, spread the spears and fans of the
dwarf palmetto, and innumerable tufts of a little shrub whose delicate
leaves are pale green underneath and a polished dark brown above, while
close to the earth clings a perfect carpet of thick-growing green,
almost like moss, bearing clusters of little white blossoms like
enameled stars; I think it is a species of euphrasia. It is the
exceeding beauty of the whole which I wish you could see, and to which
the most exquisite arrangement of art is in no way superior. I know it
is common with the lovers of nature to undervalue art; but for all that,
there are exceedingly few scenes in nature (except those of pre-eminent
wildness and sublimity) where the genius of man, and his perception of
beauty, may not remove and supply some things with advantage. In these
wild evergreen plantations this is not the case; and all I have had to
do, in following the cattle-tracks through these lovely woods, has been
to cut the lower branches of the oaks which impede my progress on
horseback, and sever the loving links of the wild garlands of blossoms,
which had bound the shrubs together and drawn their branches into a
canopy too low to admit of my riding beneath it; and you would laugh to
see me with my peculiar slave, a young lad named Jack, of great natural
shrewdness and no little humor, who is my factotum, and follows me on
horseback with a leathern bag slung round his shoulders, containing a
small saw and hatchet, and thus, like Sir Walter and Tom Purdie, we
prosecute our labor of embellishment.

This Jack was out fishing with me the other day, and after about two
hours' silent and unsuccessful watching of our floats, he gravely
remarked, "Fishing bery good fun, when de fish him bite,"--an
observation so ludicrous under the circumstances, that we both burst out
laughing as soon as he uttered it.

                           ST. SIMON'S ISLAND, Sunday, March 17th, 1839.

I cannot conceive how you could do such a wicked thing as to throw a
letter you had begun into the fire, or such a cruel one as to inform the
person who was to have received it of your exploit.

You burned your account of my sister's first appearance because,
forsooth, the "newspapers" or "Harriet S----" would be sure to afford me
the intelligence! But it so happens that I never see a newspaper, and
that that identical letter of Harriet's was cast away in one of those
unfortunate New York packets blown ashore in the late tremendous gales.
It has since reached me, however; but she, too, thinking fit to go upon
some fallacious calculation of human probabilities, takes it for granted
that Adelaide has written me a full, true, and particular account of the
whole business, and sums up all details in the mere intelligence, which
had already reached me, of her having made a successful first appearance
at Venice. Pray, my dear Mrs. Jameson, do not be afraid of supplying me
with twice-told tales of my own people, but whenever you are good enough
to write to me, let me know all that you know about them....

I do not know why you should have associated the ill-fated
_Pennsylvania_ with any thought of me. I never crossed the Atlantic in a
ship so named, but the _St. Andrew_, one of the wrecked vessels, was the
one in which we returned to America two years ago, and probably you may
have written the one name for the other by mistake.

Of the appearance of your book, and the attention it has excited, I hear
from Catharine Sedgwick. As for me, the only new book I have seen since
my sojourn in these outhouses of civilization, is that exquisite volume
whose evergreen leaves, of every tint and texture, are rustling in the
bright sunshine and fresh sea-breeze of this delicious winter climate.

Art never devised more perfect combinations of form and color than these
wild woods present, with their gigantic growth of evergreen oak, their
thickets of myrtle and magnolia, their fantastic undergrowth of spiked
palmetto, and their hanging draperies of jessamine, whose gold-colored
bells fill the air with fragrance long before one approaches the place
where it grows.

You would laugh if I were to recount some of my manifold avocations
here; my qualifications for my situation should be more various than
those of a modern governess, for it appears to me there is nothing
strange and unusual by way of female experience that I have not been
called upon to perform since I have lived here, from marking out the
proper joints on the carcass of a dead sheep, into which it should be
divided for the table, to officiating as clergyman to a congregation of
our own poor people, whose desire for religious instruction appears to
be in exact proportion to the difficulty they have in obtaining it....

I am on horseback every day, clearing paths through the woods; and
though the life I lead has but a very remote resemblance to that of a
civilized creature, a quondam dweller in the two great cities of the
world and frequenter of polished societies therein, it has some
recommendations of its own. To be sure, so it should have; for I inhabit
a house where the staircase is open to the roof, and the roof,
unmitigated by ceiling, plaster, skylight, or any intermediate shelter,
presents to my admiring gaze, as I ascend and descend, the seamy side of
the tiles, or rather wooden shingles, with which the house is covered;
with all the rude raftering, through which do shine the sun, moon, and
stars, the winds do blow, and the rain of heaven does fall. Every door
in the house is fastened with wooden latches and pack-thread; the
identical device of Red Riding-hood antiquity, and the solitary bell of
the establishment rings by means of a rope, suspended from the lintel,
_outside_ the room where I sit, and I expect to find myself hanging in
it every time I go in and out, and which always inclines me to inquire
what has been done with the body that was last cut down from it....

                                                                F. A. B.

                                   ST. SIMON'S ISLAND, March 17th, 1839.

That letter of yours which I lamented as lost, my dear Harriet, has
reached me all stained and defaced (yet not so but that it can be read),
having evidently been steeped in the merciless waves of the Mersey. Your
letter has suffered shipwreck, having of course been cast back towards
you, in one of those unfortunate New York packets which were lost in
those late tremendous gales; and if the poor pickled sheet of paper
could speak anything beside what you have told it, how many sad horrors,
unrecorded in the summary newspaper reports of the late disasters, it
might reveal.

I have a dreadful dread, and a fearful fear, of drowning, and the sight
of your letter, all sea-stained, conjures up as many terrible thoughts
as poor Clarence had in the last dream that preceded his last sleep.

Almost the saddest to me of all the items of ruin and destruction
enumerated in the newspaper records of the late storm, was the carrying
away of the Menai Bridge, and that on your account. I thought of it as
almost a personal loss and grief to you. You had so often described it
to me, its beauty and its grandeur; and though I had never seen it, I
had a distinct imagination of it, gathered far more from your
descriptions, than from engravings or accounts of tourists: and it was
so associated with you in my mind, that, reading of it being all blown
to tatters, I felt dismayed to think of _your_ beautiful bridge thus
ruined, and of your distress at its destruction. You used to speak of
that with the same species of delight that beautiful natural objects
excite in me: and enjoyment so vivid, and at the same time so abiding,
that I sometimes, under the influence of such impressions, feel as if I
loved some places better than any people. Certainly the magical effect
of certain beautiful scenes upon my mind is the most intense and lasting
pleasure I have ever known....

I returned here yesterday to my children, whom I left with Margery,
while I went up to Butler's Island to do duty, I am sorry to say, as

The observations of children, which are quoted as indications of
peculiar intelligence, very often only appear so, because the objects
which call them forth, having become familiar to us, have ceased to
impress us rightly, or perhaps at all. Every child who is not a fool
will frequently make remarks about many things which are only striking
because conventional uses and educated habits of thought have, on many
points, blunted their effect upon us, and obscured our perceptions of
their qualities, and left us with duller senses, and a duller general
sense in some respects, than those of a child or savage....

I have been performing an office this morning, which, like sundry others
I have been called upon to discharge here (marking on the carcass of a
sheep, for instance, the proper joints into which it should be cut for
the table), is new to me. I read prayers to between twenty and thirty of
the slaves, who are here without church, pastor, or any means whatever
of religious instruction. There was something so affecting to me in my
involuntary relation to these poor people,--in the contrast, too,
between the infirm old age of many of them, and the comparative youth of
me, their instructress,--in my impotence to serve them and my
passionate desire to do so,--that I could hardly command my voice. The
composition of our service was about as liberal as was ever compounded
by any preacher or teacher of any Christian sect, I verily believe: it
was selected from the English book of Common Prayer, a Presbyterian
collection of Prayers, the "Imitation of Jesus Christ," which excellent
Roman Catholic book of devotion I borrowed from Margery, and the Blessed
Bible--the fountain from which have flowed all these streams for the
refreshment of human souls. From these I compiled a short service,
dismissing my congregation without a sermon, having none with me fit for
their comprehension, and lacking courage to extemporize one, though
vehemently moved by the spirit to do so. I think on Sunday next I will
write one especially for their edification.

After this I went with S---- and Margery, and baby in her little wicker
carriage, accompanied by a long procession of negro children, to explore
the woods near the house: not without manifest misgivings on the part of
my dusky escort, whose terror of rattlesnakes is greater even than my
terrified imagination about them. My greatest anxiety was to keep S----
from marching in the van and preceding us all in these reptiline
discoveries.... _Way_, in the proper sense of the term, there was none;
for the expedition was chiefly for the purpose of observing where paths
could be cleared with best advantage through this charming wilderness.
To crown the doings of the day, I have written you this long letter, the
fifth I date to you from Georgia.

                              Ever most affectionately yours,
                                                                F. A. B.

                                             NEW YORK, April 30th, 1839.

How much I wish I could but look into your face, but hold your hand, or
embrace you! How much I wish I were near you, that I might silently as
alone benefits such occasions, express to you my sympathy for your

The news of your loss was the greater shock to me that I had just
written a letter, introducing to you a dear friend of mine, Miss
Sedgwick, now about visiting England, and bespeaking your kindness and
good-will for her. This lady will still be the bearer of this (a most
different epistle from the one I had prepared) and a little fan made of
the feathers of one of our Southern birds, which you will not look upon
with indifference, because it is sent to you by one who loves you truly
and gratefully, and who would gladly do anything to afford you one
moment's relief from those sad thoughts which I fear must possess you

I had ventured with especial confidence to recommend my friend to your
notice, because she possesses, in no small degree, some of those
qualities which distinguished your excellent and accomplished daughter;
the same talent, applied with profound conscientiousness to the
improvement of the young and poor and ignorant; the same devotion to the
good of all who come within her sphere; the same pervading sense of
religious responsibility.

Dear Lady Dacre, for the sake of those who love you,--for the sake of
him whom you love above all others, your admirable husband,--for the
sake of the darlings your child has left, a precious legacy and trust to
you, do not let this affliction bow down the noble courage of your
nature, but raise yourself even under this heavy burden, that the world
may not by her death lose the good influence of _two_ bright spirits at
once. Do not think me bold and impertinent that _I_ venture thus to
exhort _you_. It is my affection that speaks, and the fear I feel of the
terrible effect this loss may have upon you. Once more, God bless and
support you, and give you that reliance upon Him which is our only
strength in the hours of our earthly sorrows. She whom you mourn is
blest, if ever goodness might secure blessing; and the recollection of
her many virtues must take from her death those contemplations which
alone can make death awful. Farewell, dear friend. My heart yearns
towards you in your grief very tenderly, and I am always

  Most affectionately yours,
                                                                F. A. B.

                            BUTLER PLACE, PHILADELPHIA, June 24th, 1839.

I am afraid you will think my Northern residence less propitious to
correspondence than the Georgia plantation, as I am again in your
debt.... But what have I to tell you of myself, or anything belonging to
me? Ever since I returned from New York, whither I went to see Catharine
Sedgwick sail for England, I have been vegetating here, as much as in me
lies to vegetate; but though my life has quite as few incidents as the
existence of the lilies and the roses in the flower-beds, the inward
nature makes another life of it, and the restless soul can never be made
to _vegetate_, even though the body does little else.... My days roll on
in a sort of dreamy, monotonous succession, with an imperceptible
motion, like the ceaseless creeping of the glaciers. I teach S---- to
read. I order my household, I read Mrs. Jameson's book about Canada, I
write to you, I copy out for Elizabeth Sedgwick the journal I kept on
the plantation, I ride every day, and play on the piano just enough not
to forget my notes, _et voila!_ Once a week I go to town, to execute
commissions, or return visits, and on Sundays I go to church; and so my
life slides away from me. My head and heart, however, are neither as
torpid nor as empty as my hours; and I often find, as others have done,
that external stagnation does not necessarily produce internal repose.
Occasionally, but seldom, people come from town to see us; and
sometimes, but not often, small offices of courtesy and kindness are
exchanged between me and my more immediate neighbors. And now my story
is done.... I really live almost entirely alone....

I am beginning to fear that I shall not be taken to the Virginia springs
this summer. If I go, I am told I must leave the children behind, the
roads and accommodations being such as to render it perfectly impossible
to take them with us. Indeed, the inconveniences of the journey and the
discomforts of the residence there are represented to us as so great,
that I am afraid I shall not be thought able to endure them. If it is
settled that I cannot go thither, I shall go up to Massachusetts, where,
though the material civilities of life are yet in their swaddling
clothes, I have dear friends, and the country is lovely all around where
I should be.

I have just seen some plans for a large hotel, which it is proposed to
build on some property we own in the city, in a position extremely well
adapted for such a purpose. I was very much pleased with them: they are
upon the wholesale scale of lodging and entertainment, which travelers
in this country require and desire; and combine as much comfort and
elegance as are compatible with such a style of establishment. We, you
know, in England, always like our public houses to be as like private
ones as possible. The reverse is the case here, and the lodging-house or
hotel recommends itself chiefly by being able to accommodate as many
people as can well congregate at a _table d'hôte_ or in a public
drawing-room, that being a good deal the idea of society which appears
to exist in many people's minds here....

                                                                F. A. B.

                                 BUTLER PLACE, Thursday, July 4th, 1839.

It is the 4th of July, the day on which the Declaration of American
Independence was read to the assembled citizens of Philadelphia from the
window of the City State House. The anniversary is celebrated from north
to south and east to west of this vast country: by the many, with firing
of guns, and spouting of speeches, drinking of drams, and eating of
dinners; by the few, with understanding prayer, praise and thankfulness
for the past, and hope, not unalloyed with some misgiving, for the

In the gravel walk, at the back of our house, under a double row of tall
trees that meet overhead, all our servants and the people employed on
the place and their children, are congregated at dinner, to the tune of
thirty-seven apparently well-satisfied souls, and as I went to see them
just now, a farmer who is our tenant across the road, and has tenanted
the place where he lives for the space of twenty years, assured me that
I was a "real American!" He is an Irishman, and I might have returned
his compliment by telling him he was half an Englishman, for a man who
remains twenty years in one place in this country, and upon ground that
he does not own, is a very uncommon personage.

You would scarcely believe how difficult it is to establish a pleasant
footing with persons of this class here. Dependents they do not and
ought not to consider themselves (for they are not such in any sense
whatever); equals, their own perceptions show them they are not in any
sense, but a political one; and they seem to me, in consequence, to be
far less at their ease really in their intercourse with their employers
or landlords than our own people, with their much more positive and
definite sense of difference of condition and habits of life. Indeed, to
establish a real feeling--a _true_ one--of universal equality, warranted
by the fact of its existence, would require a population, not of
American Republicans, such as they are, but of Christian philosophers,
such as do not exist at all anywhere yet, or, if at all, only by twos or
threes scattered among millions....

You ask me how far Butler's Island was from St. Simon's [the rice and
cotton plantations in Georgia]. Fifteen miles of water--great huge river
mouth or mouths, and open sounds of the sea, with half-submerged salt
marsh islands wallowing in the midst of them.... Over these
waters--pretty rough surfaces, too, sometimes--we traveled to and fro
between the plantations in open boats, generally in a long canoe that
flew under its eight oars like an arrow. The men often sang, while they
rowed, the whole way when I was in the boat, and some of their melodies
are very wild and striking, and their natural gift of music remarkable.
As the boat approached the landing, the steersman brayed forth our
advent through a monstrous conch, when the whole shore would presently
be crowded with our dusky dependents, the whole thing reminding one of
former semi-barbaric times, and modes of life in the islands of the
northwest of Scotland. Some of the airs the negroes sing have a strong
affinity to Scotch melodies in their general character....

It is near ten o'clock in the evening, and with you it is five hours
earlier, so you are probably thinking of dressing for dinner; though,
by-the-bye, you are not at home at Ardgillan, but wandering somewhere
about in Germany--I know not where; neither may I by any means imagine
how you are employed; and your image rises before me without one
accompanying detail of familiar place, circumstance, or occupation, to
give it a this-world's likeness. I see you as I might if you were
dead--your simple apparition unframed by any setting that I can surround
it with; and it is thus that I now see all my friends and kindred, all
those I love in my own country; for the lapse of time and the space of
distance between us render all thoughts of them, even of their very
existence, vague and uncertain. Klopstock, who wrote letters to the
dead, hardly corresponded more absolutely with the inhabitants of
another world than I do....

I drove into town this morning by half-past ten o'clock to church, a
six-miles' journey I take most Sundays. The weekday generally passes in
reading "Nicholas Nickleby," walking about the garden, and devising
alterations which I hope may turn out improvements, playing and singing
half a dozen pieces of music half a century old, and writing to the
"likes of you" (though, indeed, to me you are still a nonesuch).
Farewell, dearest Harriet, _und schlafen sie recht wohl_. Is that the
way you say it, whereabouts you are?

                              Ever your affectionate,
                                                                F. A. B.

                                          BUTLER PLACE, July 14th, 1839.

I wrote to you a short time ago, dearest Harriet; but I am still in your
debt, and though I have nothing to tell you (when should I write if I
waited for that?), I have abundant leisure to tell it in, and the mind
to talk with you. The last is never wanting, but now what a pity it is
that I must make this miserable sheet of paper my voice, instead of
having you here on this piazza, as we call our verandahs here, with the
pomegranate and cape jessamine bushes in bloom in their large green
boxes just before me, and a row of great fat hydrangeas (how is that
spelled?) nodding their round, fat, foolish-looking pink and blue heads
at me....

We are most strongly urged to try the effect of the natural hot sulphur
baths of Virginia; their efficacy being very great in cases of rheumatic
affections.... I am very much afraid, however, that I shall not be
allowed to go thither; and in that case shall probably take my way up to
my friends in Berkshire, Massachusetts, the Sedgwicks, who, though they
have sent a detachment of six to perambulate Europe just now, still form
with the remaining members of the family the chief part of the
population of that district of New England.

Catharine, who is one of them that I love best, is one among the gone;
but her brother and his wife, next door to whom I generally take up my
abode during some part of the summer, are as excellent, and nearly as
dear to me, as she is....

My occupations are nothing; my amusements less than nothing. Of what
avail is it that I should tell you of lonely rides taken in places you
never heard of, or books I have read, the titles of which (being
American) you never saw; or that I am revolutionizing the gravel walks
in my garden, opening up new and closing up old ones? There is no use in
telling you any of this. As long as I live, that is to all eternity, you
know that I shall love you; but it is decreed that in this portion of
that eternity you can know little else about me, however it may be
hereafter. I wonder if it will ever be for us again to interchange
communion daily and hourly, as we once did; I do not see how it should
come to pass in this our present life; but it may be one of the
blessings of a better and happier existence to resume our free and full
former intercourse with each other, without any of the alloy of human
infirmity or untoward circumstance. Amen! so be it! God bless you, dear.
I long to see you once more, and am ever affectionately yours,

                                                                F. A. B.

                                          BUTLER PLACE, July 21st, 1839.

I was looking over a letter of yours, dear Harriet, just now, which
answered one of mine from Georgia, and find therein a perfect burst of
eloquence upon the subject of _fishing_. Now, though I know
destructiveness to be not only a _bump_, but a passion of yours, I
still should not have imagined that you could take delight in that
dreamy, lazy, lounging pursuit, if pursuit that may be called in which
one stands stock-still by the hour. As for me, the catching of fish was
always a subject of perfect ecstasy to me--so much so, indeed, that our
little company of piscators at Weybridge used to entreat me to "go
further off," or "get out of the boat," whenever I had a bite, because
my cries of joy were enough to scare all the fish in the river down to
Sheerness. It was the lingering, fidgeting, gasping, plunging agonies of
the poor creatures, after they were caught, which I objected to so
excessively, and which made me renounce the amusement in spite of my
passion for it. When I resumed it in Georgia, it was with the full
determination to find out some speedy mode of putting my finny captives
to death--as you are to understand that I have not the slightest
compunction about killing, though infinite about torturing,--so my
"slave," Jack, had orders to knock them on the head the instant he took
the hook from their gills; but he banged them horribly, till I longed to
bang him against the boat's side, and even cut their throats from ear to
ear, so that they looked like so many Banquos without the "gory locks";
and yet the indomitable life in the perverse creatures would make them
leap up with a galvanic spring and gasp, that invariably communicated an
electric shock to my nerves, and produced the fellow-spring and gasp
from me. This was the one drawback to my fishing felicity; oh! yes--I
forgot the worms or live bait, though! Harriet, it _is_ a hideous
diversion, and that is all that can be said for it; and I wonder at you
for indulging in it.

I tried paste, most exquisitely compounded of rice, flour, peach brandy,
and fine sugar; but the Altamaha fish were altogether too
unsophisticated for any such allurement; it would probably be safe to
put a _paté de foie gras_ or a pineapple before an Irish hedger and

The white mullet, shad, and perch of the Altamaha are the most excellent
animals that ever went in water. At St. Simon's the water is entirely
salt, and often very rough, as it is but a mile and a half from the open
sea, and the river there is in fact a mere arm of salt water. It is
hardly possible ever to fish like a lady, with a float, in it; but the
negroes bait a long rope with clams, shrimps, and oysters, and sinking
their line with a heavy lead, catch very large mullet, fine whitings,
and a species of marine monster, first cousin once removed to the great
leviathan, called the drum, which, being stewed _long enough_ (that is,
nobody can tell how long) with a precious French sauce, might turn out a
little softer than the nether millstone, and so perhaps edible: _mais
avec cette sauce là on mangerait son père_, and perhaps without the
family indigestion that lasted the Atridæ so long.

One of these creatures was sent to me by one of our neighbors as a
curiosity; it was upwards of four feet long, weighed over twenty pounds,
and had an enormous head. I wouldn't have eaten a bit of it for the

The waters all round St. Simon's abound in capital fish; beds of
oysters, that must be inexhaustible I should think, run all along the
coast; shrimps and extraordinarily large prawns are taken in the
greatest abundance, and good green turtle, it is said, is easily
procured at a short distance from these shores.

You ask what sort of house we had down there. Why, truly, wretched
enough. There were on the two plantations no fewer than _eight_ dwelling
houses, all in different states and stages of uninhabitableness, half of
them not being quite built up, and the other half not quite fallen down.

The grandfather of the present proprietor built a good house on the
island of St. Simon's, in a beautiful situation on a point of land where
two rivers meet--rather, two large streams of salt water, fine,
sparkling, billowy sea rivers. Before the house was a grove of large
orange-trees, and behind it an extensive tract of down, covered with
that peculiar close, short turf which creates South Down and Pré Salé
mutton: and overshadowed by some magnificent live-oaks and white
mulberry-trees. By degrees, however, the tide, which rises to a great
height here, running very strongly up both these channels, has worn away
the bank, till tree by tree the orange grove has been entirely washed
away, and the water at high tide is now within six feet of the house
itself; or rather, there are only six feet of distance between the
building and the brink of the bank on which it stands, which is
considerably above the river.

The house has been uninhabited for a great many years, and is, of
course, ruinously out of repair. It contains one very good room, and
might be made a decently comfortable dwelling; but it has been ordered
to be pulled down, because, if it is not, the materials will soon be
swept away in the rapid demolition of the bank by the water. The house
we resided in was the overseer's dwelling, situated on the point also,
but further from the water, and having the extent of grass-land and
trees in front of it, together with a beautiful water prospect; in fact,
in a better situation than the other. As for the house itself, it would
have done very well for our short residence if it had been either
finished or furnished. The rooms were fairly well-sized, and there were
five of them in all, besides two or three little closets. But although
the primitive simplicity of whitewashed walls in our drawing and
dining-room did not affect my happiness, the wainscoting and even the
crevices of the floor admitted perfect gusts of air that rather did. The
windows and doors, even when professing to be shut, could never be
called closed; and on one or two gusty evenings, the carpet in the room
where I was sitting heaved and undulated by means of a stream of air
from under the door, like a theatrical representation of the ocean in
extreme agitation. The staircase was of the roughest description, such
as you would not find in the poorest English farm-house, covered only by
the inside of the roof, rough shingles--that is, wooden tiles--and all
the beams, rafters, etc., etc., of the roofing, admitting little starry
twinklings of sun or moonlight, perfectly apparent to the naked eye of
whoever ascended or descended. Such was my residence on the estate of
Hampton on great St. Simon's Island; and it was infinitely superior in
size, comfort, and everything else to my abode on Butler's Island, which
was indeed a very miserable hole.

The St. Simon's house being sufficiently roomy, I presently set about
making it as far as possible convenient and comfortable. I had a fine
large table, such as might have become some august board of business
men, made of plain white pine and covered in with sober-looking dark
green merino. I next had a settee constructed--cushions, covers, etc.,
cut out and mainly stitched by my own fair fingers; we stuffed it with
the native moss; and I had a pretty white _peignoir_ made for it, with
stuff which I got from that emporium of fashionable luxury, Darien; and
this was quite an item of elegance, as well as comfort. Another table in
my sitting-room was an old, rickety, rheumatic piece of furniture of the
"old Major's," the infirmities of which I gayly concealed under a
Macgregor plaid shawl, never burdening its elderly limbs with any
greater weight than a vase of flowers; and by the help of plenty of this
exquisite, ornamental furniture of nature's own providing, and a
tolerable collection of books, which we had taken down to the South with
us, my sitting-room did not look uncomfortable or uncheerful.

If, however, I am to winter there again this year, I shall endeavor to
make it a little more like the dwelling of civilized human beings by the
introduction of locks to the doors, instead of wooden latches pulled by
pack-thread; and bells, of which at present there is but one in the
whole house, and that is a noose, hanging just outside the sitting-room
door, by which I expected to be caught and throttled every time I went
in and out....

                              I am ever yours,
                                                                F. A. B.

                                                LENOX, August 9th, 1839.

I turn from interchange of thought and feeling with my friends here,
dearest Harriet, to read again an unanswered letter of yours; and as I
dwell upon your affectionate words, while my eyes wander over the
beautiful landscape which my window commands, my mind is filled with the
consideration of the great treasure of love that has been bestowed upon
me out of so many hearts, and I wonder as I ponder. God knows how
devoutly I thank Him for this blessing above all others, granted to me
in a measure so far above my deserts, that my gratitude is mingled with
surprise and a sense of my own unworthiness, which enhances my
appreciation of my great good fortune in this respect.... In seasons of
self-reproach and self-condemnation it is an encouragement and a
consolation, and helps to lift one from the dust, to reflect that good
and noble spirits have loved one--spirits too good and too noble, one
would fain persuade one's self, to love what is utterly base and

You ask me if I have kept any journal, or written anything lately.
During my winter in the South I kept a daily journal of whatever
occurred to interest me, and I am now busily engaged in copying it....
Since the perpetration of that "English Tragedy," now in your safe
keeping, I have written nothing else; and probably, until I find myself
again under the influence of some such stimulus as my mind received on
returning to England, my intellectual faculties will remain stagnant, so
far as any "worthy achievement," as Milton would say, is concerned. You
see, I persist in considering that play in that light....

I am ashamed to say that I am exceedingly sleepy. I have been riding
sixteen miles over these charming hills. The day is bright and breezy,
and full of shifting lights and shadows, playing over a landscape that
combines every variety of beauty,--valleys, in the hollows of which lie
small lakes glittering like sapphires; uplands, clothed with
grain-fields and orchards, and studded with farm-houses, each the centre
of its own free domain; hills clothed from base to brow with every
variety of forest tree; and woods, some wild, tangled, and all but
impenetrable, others clear of underbrush, shady, moss-carpeted and
sun-checkered; noble masses of granite rock, great slabs of marble (of
which there are fine quarries in the neighborhood), clear mountain
brooks and a full, free-flowing, sparkling river;--all this, under a
cloud-varied sky, such as generally canopies mountain districts, the
sunset glories of which are often magnificent. I have good friends, and
my precious children, an easy, cheerful, cultivated society, my capital
horse, and, in short, most good things that I call mine--on this side of
the water--with one heavy exception....

My dearest Harriet, my drowsiness grows upon me, so that my eyelids are
gradually drawing together as I look out at the sweet prospect, and the
blue shimmer of the little lake and sunny waving of the trees are fading
all away into a dream before me. Good-bye.

                              Your sleepy and affectionate
                                                                F. A. B.

    [When I was in London, some time after the date of this letter, I
    received an earnest request from one of the most devoted of the New
    England abolitionists, to allow the journal I kept while at the
    South to be published, and so give the authority of my experience to
    the aid of the cause of freedom. This application occasioned me
    great trouble and distress, as it was most painful to me to refuse
    my testimony on the subject on which I felt so deeply; but it was
    impossible for me then to feel at liberty to publish my journal.

    When the address, drawn up at Stafford House, under the impulse of
    Mrs. Beecher Stowe's powerful novel, and the auspices of Lord
    Shaftesbury and the Duchess of Sutherland (by Thackeray denominated
    the "Womanifesto against Slavery"), was brought to me for my
    signature, I was obliged to decline putting my name to it, though I
    felt very sure no other signer of that document knew more of the
    facts of American slavery, or abhorred it more, than I did; but
    also, no other of its signers knew, as I did, the indignant sense of
    offense which it would be sure to excite in those to whom it was
    addressed; its absolute futility as to the accomplishment of any
    good purpose, and the bitter feeling it could not fail to arouse,
    even in the women of the Northern States, by the assumed moral
    superiority which it would be thought to imply.

    I would then gladly have published my journal, had I been at liberty
    to do so, and thus shown my sympathy with the spirit, though not the
    letter, of the Stafford House appeal to the women of America.

    It was not, however, until after the War of Secession broke out,
    while residing in England, and hearing daily and hourly the
    condition of the slaves discussed, in a spirit of entire sympathy
    with their owners, that nothing but the most absolute ignorance
    could excuse, that I determined to publish my record of my own
    observations on a Southern plantation.

    At the time of my doing so, party feeling on the subject of the
    American war was extremely violent in England, and the people among
    whom I lived were all Southern sympathizers. I believe I was
    suspected of being _employed_ to "advocate" the Northern cause (an
    honor of which I was as little worthy as their cause was in need of
    such an advocate); and my friend, Lady ----, told me she had
    repeatedly heard it asserted that my journal was not a genuine
    record of my own experiences and observation, but "cooked up" (to
    use the expression applied to it) to serve the purpose of party
    special pleading. This, as she said, she was able to contradict upon
    her own authority, having heard me read the manuscripts many years
    before at her grandmother's, Lady Dacre's, at the Hoo.

    This accusation of having "cooked up" my journal for a particular
    end may perhaps have originated from the fact that I refused to
    place the whole of it in the hands of the printers, giving out to be
    printed merely such portions as I chose to submit to their
    inspection, which, as the book was my personal diary, and contained
    matter of the most strictly private nature, was not perhaps
    unreasonable. The republication of this book in America had not been
    contemplated by me; my purpose and my desire being to make the facts
    it contained known in England. In the United States, by the year
    1862, abundant miserable testimony of the same nature needed no
    confirmation of mine. My friend, Mr. John Forbes, of Boston,
    however, requested me to let him have it republished in America, and
    I very gladly consented to do so.[4]

        [4] I have omitted from the letters written on the plantation,
        at the same time as this diary, all details of the condition of
        the slaves among whom I was living; the painful effect of which
        upon myself however, together with my general strong feeling
        upon the subject of slavery, I have not entirely
        suppressed--because I do not think it well that all record
        should be obliterated of the nature of the terrible curse from
        which God in His mercy has delivered English America.

        In countless thousands of lamentable graves the bitter wrong
        lies buried--atoned for by a four-years' fratricidal war: the
        beautiful Southern land is lifting its head from the disgrace of
        slavery and the agony of its defense. May its free future days
        surpass in prosperity (as they surely will a thousand-fold)
        those of its former perilous pride of privilege--of race
        supremacy and subjugation.

    An extremely interesting and clever book, called "A Fool's Errand,"
    embodies under the form of a novel, an accurate picture of the
    social condition of the Southern States after the war--a condition
    so replete with elements of danger and difficulty, that the highest
    virtue and the deepest wisdom could hardly have coped successfully
    with them; and from a heart-breaking and perhaps unsuccessful
    struggle with which, Abraham Lincoln's murder delivered him, I
    believe, as a reward for his upright and noble career.]

                                            LENOX, September 11th, 1839.

Thank you, my dear Lady Dacre, for your kindness in writing to me again.
I would fain know if doing so may not have become a painful effort to
you, or if my letters may not have become irksome to you. Pray have the
real goodness to let me know, if not by your own hand, through our
friends William Harness or Emily Fitzhugh, if you would rather not be
disturbed by my writing to you, and trust that I shall be grateful for
your sincerity.

You know I do not value very highly the artificial civilities which half
strangle half the world with a sort of floss-silk insincerity; and the
longer I live the more convinced I am that real tenderness to others is
quite compatible with the truth that is due to them and one's self.

My regard for you does not maintain itself upon our scanty and
infrequent correspondence, but on the recollection of your kindness to
me, and the impression our former intercourse has left upon my memory;
and though ceasing to receive your letters would be foregoing an
enjoyment, it could not affect the grateful regard I entertain for you.
Pray, therefore, my dear Lady Dacre, do not scruple to bid me hold my
peace, if by taking up your time and attention in your present sad
circumstances [the recent loss of her daughter] I disturb or distress

Your kind wishes for my health and happiness are as completely fulfilled
as such benedictions may be in this world of imperfect bodies and minds.
I ride every day before breakfast, some ten or twelve miles (yesterday
it was five and twenty), and as this obliges me to be in my saddle at
seven in the morning, I am apt to consider the performance meritorious
as well as pleasurable. (Who says that early risers always have a
Pharisaical sense of their own superiority?) I am staying in the
beautiful hill-region of Massachusetts, where I generally spend part of
my summer, in the neighborhood of my friends the Sedgwicks, who are a
very numerous clan, and compose the chief part of the population of this
portion of Berkshire, if not in quantity, certainly in quality.

There was some talk, at one time, of my going to the hot sulphur springs
of Virginia; but the difficulties of the journey thither, and miseries
of a sojourn there, prevented my doing so, as I could not have taken my
children with me. We shall soon begin to think of flying southward, for
we are to winter in Georgia again....

My youngest child does not utter so much as a syllable, which
circumstance has occasioned me once or twice seriously to consider
whether by any possibility a child of mine could be _dumb_. "I cannot
tell, but I think not," as Benedict says. It would have been clever of
me to have had a dumb child.

Have you read Charles Murray's book about America? and how do you like
it? Do you ever see Lady Francis Egerton nowadays? How is she? What is
she doing? Is she accomplishing a great deal with her life? She always
seemed to me born to do so. My dear Lady Dacre, do not talk of not
seeing me again. We hope to be in England next autumn, and one of the
greatest pleasures I look forward to in that expectation is once more
seeing you and Lord Dacre. You say my sister will marry a foreigner. She
has my leave to marry a German, but the more southern blood does not
mingle well with our Teutonic race....

I am sorry the only book of Catharine Sedgwick's which you have read is,
"Live and Let Live," because it is essentially an American book, and
some Americans think it a little exaggerated in its views, even for this
country. A little story, called "Home," and another called "The Poor
Rich Man and the Rich Poor Man," are, I think, better specimens of what
she can do....

                                                                F. A. B.

                                            LENOX, September 30th, 1839.

And so, dearest Harriet, Cecilia writes you that my head is enlarged, my
_benevolence_ and _causality_ increased, and that Mr. Combe thinks me
much improved. Truly, it were a pity if I were the reverse, for it was
more than two years since he had seen me; but though I heartily wish
this might be the case, I honestly confess to you that I do not feel as
if my mental and moral progress, during the last two years, has been
sufficient to push out any visible augmentation of the "bumps" of my
skull in any direction.

Your saucy suggestion as to my having conciliated his good opinion by
exhibiting a greater degree of faith in phrenology is, unluckily, not
borne out by the facts; for, instead of more, I have a little less faith
in it; and that, perversely enough, from the very circumstance of the
more favorable opinion thus expressed with regard to my own

In the first instance, both Mr. Combe and Cecilia expressed a good deal
of surprise to some of my friends here, at their high estimate of my
brain.... Having very evidently never themselves perceived any
sufficient grounds for such an exalted esteem. Moreover, Mr. Combe wrote
a letter to Lucretia Mott (the celebrated Quakeress, who is a good
friend of mine), when he heard that she had made my acquaintance,
cautioning her against falling into the mistake which _all my American
friends_ committed, of "exaggerating my reasoning powers." This was all
well and good, and only amused me as rather funny; some of _my American
friends_ being tolerably shrewd folk, and upon the whole, no bad judges
of brains. But then the next thing that happens is, that I see the
Combes myself for a short, hurried, and most confused five minutes,
during which, even if Mr. Combe's judgment were _entirely_ in his eyes,
he had no leisure for exercising it on me; and yet he now states (for
Cecy is only his echo in this matter) that my disposition is much
improved, and my reasoning powers much increased; and it is but two
years since I was in his house, and this moral and mental progress,
visible to the naked eye, on my thickly hair-roofed cranium, has taken
place since then;--if so, so much the better for me, and I have made
better use of my time than I imagined!

To tell you the truth, dear Harriet, I have not thought about
phrenology, one way or the other, but I have thought this phrenological
verdict about myself nonsense.

Mr. Combe has certainly not been influenced by any signs of conversion
on my part; but I suppose he may have been influenced by the opinion
held of me by my friends here, some of whom are sensible enough on all
other subjects not to be suspected of idiocy, even though they do think
me a rational, and, what is more, a reasoning creature.

It has been a real distress to me not to see more of Mr. Combe and
Cecilia. I have always had the highest regard for him, for his kind,
humane heart, and benevolent, liberal, enlightened mind. Cecy, too,
during my short visit to her in Scotland, appeared to me a far more
lovable person than during my previous intercourse with her: and as
kinsfolk and countryfolk, without any consideration for personal liking,
I feel annoyed at not being able to offer them any kindness or
hospitality. But we literally seem to be running round each other; they
are now at Hartford, in Connecticut, not fifty miles away from here,
where they intend staying some weeks, and will probably not be in
Philadelphia until we have departed for the South. When I saw them in
New York, they were both looking extremely well; Cecilia fat, and
cheerful, and apparently very happy, in spite of her "incidents of
American travel." ...

The heat of the summer while we remained at Butler Place was something
quite indescribable, and hardly varied at all for several weeks, either
night or day, from between 90 and 100 degrees.

People sat up all night at their windows in town; and as for me, more
than once, in sheer desperation, after trying to sleep on a cane sofa
under the piazza, I wandered about more than half the night, on the
gravel walks of the garden, bare-footed,--_et dans le simple appareil
d'une beauté qu'on vient d'arracher au sommeil_.

We tried to sleep upon _everything_ in vain,--Indian matting was as hot
as woolen blankets. At last I laid a piece of oilcloth on my bed,
without even as much as a sheet over it, and though I could not sleep,
obtained as much relief from the heat as to be able to lie still. It was

I have been for two months up here, not having been allowed to go to the
Virginia springs, on account of the difficulty of carrying my children
there; but I am promised that we shall all go there next summer, when
there is to be something like a passable road, by which the
health-giving region may be approached....

I have an earnest desire to return to Europe in the autumn--not to stay
in England, unless my father should be there, but to go to him, wherever
he may be, and to spend a little time with my sister.... All this,
however, lies far ahead, and God knows what at present invisible
prospects may reveal and develop themselves on the surface of the
future, as a nearer light falls on it....

My youngest child's accomplishments are hitherto unaccompanied by a
syllable of speech or utterance, and the idea sometimes occurs to me
whether a child of mine could have enough genius to be dumb.

Good-bye, my dearest Harriet.

                              Ever affectionately yours,
                                                                F. A. B.

                                       BUTLER PLACE, October 10th, 1839.

Your interesting letter of 26th July reached me about ten days ago, at
Lenox, where, according to my wont, I was passing the hot months. I had
heard from dear Mr. Harness, a short time before, that you had suffered
much annoyance from the withdrawal of your father's pension. Your own
account of the disasters of your family excited my sincere sympathy; and
yet, after reflecting a little, it appeared to me as if the exertions
you felt yourself called upon to make in their behalf were happier in
themselves than the general absence of any immediate object in life,
which I know you sometimes feel very bitterly. At any rate, to be able
to serve, effectually to save from distress, those so dear to you, must
be in itself a real happiness; and to be blessed by your parents and
sisters as their stay and support in such a crisis, is to have had such
an opportunity of concentrating your talents as I think one might be
thankful for. I cannot, consistently with my belief, say I am sorry you
have thus suffered, but I pray God that your troubles may every way
prove blessings to you.

Your account of your "schoolmaster's party" interested me very much. [A
gathering of teachers, promoted by Lady Byron, for purposes of
enlightened benevolence.] Lady Byron must be a woman of a noble nature.
I hope she is happy in her daughter's marriage. I heard a report a short
time ago that Lady Lovelace was coming over to this country with her
husband. I could not well understand for what purpose: that he should
come from general interest and curiosity about the United States, I can
well imagine; but that she should come from any motive, but to avoid
being separated from her husband, is to me inconceivable....

I should like to have seen that play of Mr. Chorley's which you mention
to me. He once talked about it to me. It is absurd to say, but for all
its absurdity, I'll say it,--he does not _look_ to me like a man who
could write a good play: he speaks too softly, and his eyelashes are too
white; in spite of all which, I take your word for it that it is good.
You ask after mine: Harriet has got the only copy, on the other side of
the water; if you think it worth while to ask her for it, you are very
welcome to read it. I was not aware that I had read you any portion of
it; and cannot help thinking that you have confounded in your
recollection something which I did read you--and which, as I thought,
appeared to distress you, or rather not to please you--with some portion
of my play, of which I did not think that I had ever shown you any part.
I have some thoughts of publishing it here, or rather in Boston. I have
run out my yearly allowance of pin-money, and want a few dollars very
badly, and if any bookseller will give me five pounds for it, he shall
be welcome to it....

I beg you will not call this a scrap of a letter, because it is all
written upon one sheet: if you do, I shall certainly call yours a letter
of scraps, being written on several; and am ever,

                              Very truly yours,
                                                                F. A. B.

                                       BUTLER PLACE, October 19th, 1839.

I have just been reading over a letter of yours written from Schwalbach,
in August; and in answer to some speculation of mine, which I have
forgotten, you say, "Our birth truly is no less strange than our death.
The beginning--and whence come we? The end--and whither go we?" Now, I
presume that you did not intend that I should apply myself to answer
these questions categorically. You must have thought you were speaking
to me, dearest Harriet, and have only written down the vague cogitations
that rose in the shape of queries to your lips, as you read my letter,
which suggested them; opening at the same time, doubtless, a pair of
most _intensely sightless_ eyes, upon the gaming-table of the Cursaal,
if it happened to be within range of vision.

For myself, the older I grow the less I feel strength or inclination to
speculate. The daily and hourly duties of life are so indifferently
fulfilled by me, that I feel almost rebuked if my mind wanders either to
the far past or future while the present, wherein lies my salvation, is
comparatively unthought of. To tell you the truth, I find in the daily
obligations to do and to suffer which come to my hands, a refuge from
the mystery and uncertainty which veil all before and after life.

For indeed, when the mind sinks bewildered under speculations as to our
former fate or future destinies, the sense of things _to be done_, of
duties to be fulfilled, even the most apparently trivial in the world,
is an unspeakable relief; and though the whole of this existence of
ours, material and spiritual, affords but this _one_ foothold (and it
sometimes seems so to me), it is enough that every hour brings work; and
more than enough--_all_--if that work be but well done.

Thus the beginning and the end trouble me seldom; but the difficulty of
dealing rightly with what is immediately before and around me does
trouble me infinitely; but that trouble is neither uncertainty nor

Our possible separation hereafter from those we have loved here, is
almost the only idea connected with these subjects which obtrudes itself
sometimes upon my mind. Yet, though I cannot conceive how Heaven would
not be Hell without those I love, I am willing to believe that my spirit
will be fitted to its future sphere by Him with whom all things are

It seems rationally consistent with all we believe, and the little we
know, to entertain a strong hope that the affections we have cherished
here will not be left behind us, or forgotten elsewhere; but I would
give much to _believe_ this as well as to _hope_ it, and those are quite
distinct things.

Two conclusions spring from this wide waste of uncertainty; that the
more we can serve and render happy those with whom our lives are bound
up here, the better; for we may not elsewhere be allowed to minister to
them: and the less we cling to these earthly affections, the less we
grasp them as sources of personal happiness the better; as they may be
withdrawn from us, and God, whose place they too often usurp in our
souls, be the one Friend who shall supply the place of them all.

Conjecture as we may, however, upon these subjects, the general
experience of humanity is that of struggle with the _present_, the
_actual_; and could I but be satisfied with the mode in which I fulfill
my daily duties, and govern my heart and mind in their discharge, I
should feel at peace as regards all such speculations--"I'd jump the
life to come."

You speak of the unhealthy life led by the members of the bar in
Ireland, and their disregard of all the "natural laws," which yet, you
say, does not appear to affect their constitutions materially. I
presume, as far as the usual exercise of their profession goes, lawyers
must lead pretty much the same sort of life everywhere; but in this
country, everybody's habits are essentially unhealthy, and superadded to
the special bad influences of a laborious and sedentary profession, make
fearful havoc with life. The diet and the atmosphere to which most
Americans accustom themselves, are alike destructive of anything like
health. Even the men, compared with ours, are generally inactive, and
have no idea of taking regular exercise as a salutary precaution. The
absence of social enjoyment among the wealthier classes, and of cheerful
recreation among the artisan and laboring part of the population, leaves
them absorbed in a perpetual existence of care and exertion, varied only
by occasional outbursts of political excitement; indeed, they appear to
prefer a life of incessant toil to any other, and they seem to consider
any species of amusement or recreation as a simple waste of time, taking
no account of the renovation of health, strength, and spirits to be
gained by diversion and leisure. All that travelers have said about
their neglect of physical health is true; and you will have additional
evidence furnished upon this subject, I believe, by Mr. Combe, who
intends publishing his American experiences, and who will probably do
full justice to the perpetual infraction of his ever-present and sacred
rules of life, by the people of the United States....

Expostulations with people with regard to their health are never
wise--they who most need such admonition are least likely to accept it;
and, indeed, how many of us learn anything but from personal suffering?
which too often, alas, comes too late to teach. I suppose, it is only
the _exceeding_ wise who are taught anything even by their own
experience; to expect the foolish to learn by that of others, is to be
one of their number....

Experience is God's teaching; and I think the seldomer one interferes
between children and that best of teachers, the better. I think it would
be well if we oftener let them follow their wills to their consequences;
for these are always _just_, but they are sometimes, according to our
judgments, too severe; and so we not seldom, out of cowardice, interpose
between our children and the teaching of experience; and substitute,
because we will not see them suffer, our own authority for the
inestimable instruction of consequences.

I do not think I agree with you about the very early cultivation of the
reasoning powers, but have left myself no room for further _educational_

Farewell, dear.

                              Believe me, ever yours affectionately,
                                                                F. A. B.

                                           PHILADELPHIA, December, 1839.
  MY DEAR T----,

The expression of one's sympathy can never, whatever its sincerity, be
of the value it would have possessed if uttered when first excited. In
this, above all things, "they give twice who give quickly." I feel this
very much in writing to you now upon the events which have lately so
deeply troubled the current of your life--your good father's death, and
the birth of your second baby, together with the threatened calamity
from which its mother's recovery has spared you. Tardy as are these
words, my sympathy has been sincerely yours during this your season of
trial; and though I have done myself injustice in not sooner writing to
you, believe me I have felt more for you and yours than any letter could
express, though I had written it the moment the news reached me....

That your father died as full of honor as of years, that his life was a
task well fulfilled, and his death not unbecoming so worthy a life, is
matter of consolation to you, and all who knew and loved him less than
you. I scarce know how you could have wished any other close to his
career; the pang of losing such a friend you could not expect to escape,
but there was hardly a circumstance (as regarded your father himself)
which it seems to me you can regret. Poor M---- will be the bitterest
sufferer [the lady was traveling in Europe at the time of her father's
death], and for her, indeed, my compassion is great, strengthened as it
is by my late experience, and constant apprehension of a similar
affliction,--I mean my mother's death, and the dread of hearing, from
across this terrible barrier, that I have lost my father. I pity her
more than I can express; but trust that she will find strength adequate
to her need.

Give my kindest love to your wife. I rejoice in her safety for your sake
and that of her children, more even than for her own; for it always
seems well to me with those who have gone to rest, but her loss would
have been terrible for you, and her girl has yet to furnish her some
work, and some compensation....

If Anne is with you, remember me very kindly to her, and

                              Believe me ever most truly yours,
                                                                F. A. B.

    [The little daughter referred to in the above letter became Mrs.
    Charles Norton, one of the loveliest and most charming of young
    American women, snatched by an untimely death from the midst of an
    adoring family and friends.]

                              PHILADELPHIA, Friday, December 14th, 1839.

... It is perhaps well for you that this letter has suffered an
interruption here, as had this not been the case you might have been
edified with a yet further "complaint." ...

We have shut up our house in the country, and are at present staying in
Philadelphia, at my brother-in-law's; but we are expecting every day to
start for the plantation in Georgia, where I hope we are to find what is
yet lacking to us in health and strength.

I look forward with some dismay now to this expedition, in the middle of
winter, with two young children, traveling by not very safe railroads
and perhaps less safe steamboats, through that half-savage country, and
along that coast only some months ago the scene of fearful shipwreck....
I have already written you word of our last residence there, of the
small island in the Altamaha and below its level--the waters being only
kept out by dykes, which protect the rice-marshes, of which the
plantation is composed, from being submerged. The sole inhabitants, you
know, are the negroes, who cultivate the place, and the overseer who
manages them.... As early as March the heat becomes intense, and by the
beginning of April it is no longer safe for white people to remain
there, owing to the miasma which exhales from the rice-fields....

We shall find, no doubt, our former animal friends, from the fleas up
to the alligators: the first, swarming in the filthy negroes' huts; the
last, expatiating in the muddy waters of the Altamaha. I trust they will
none of them have forgotten us. Did I tell you before of those charming
creatures, the moccasin snakes, which, I have just been informed, abound
in every part of the southern plantations? Rattlesnakes I know by sight:
but the moccasin creature, though I may have seen him, I do not feel
acquainted, or at any rate familiar, with. Our nearest civilized town,
you know, is Savannah, and that is sixty miles off. I cannot say that
the expedition is in any way charming to me, but the alternative is
remaining alone here; and, as it is possible to live on the plantation
with the children, I am going. Margery, of course, comes with me....

Did I tell you, my dear Irishwoman, that we had no _potatoes_ on the
plantation, and that Indian meal holds the place of wheaten flour, bread
baked of the latter being utterly unknown?... Do not be surprised if I
dwell upon these small items of privation, even now that I am about to
go among those people the amelioration of whose condition I have
considered as one of my special duties. With regard to this, however, I
have, alas! no longer the faintest shadow of hope....

                              Yours most truly,
                                                                F. A. B.

                                       PHILADELPHIA, January 15th, 1840.

My last to you was dated the fourteenth of December, and it is now the
tenth of January, a whole month; and you and Dorothy are, I presume,
sundered, instead of together, and surrounded with ice and snow, and all
wintry influences, instead of those gentle southern ones in which you
had imagined you would pass the dismal season.

I can fancy Ardgillan comfortably poetical (if that is not a
contradiction in terms) at this time of year, with its warm, bright,
cheerful drawing-room looking out on the gloomy sea. But perhaps you are
none of you there?--perhaps you are in Dublin?--on Mr. Taylor's new
estate?--or where--where, dear Harriet--where are you? How sad it seems
to wander thus in thought after those we love, and conjecture of their
whereabouts almost as vaguely as of the dwelling of the dead!...

I am annoyed by the interruption which all this ice and snow causes in
my daily rides. My horse is rough-shod, and I persist in going out on
him two or three times a week, but not without some peril, and severe
inconvenience from the cold, which not only cuts my face to pieces, but
chaps my skin from head to foot, through my riding-dress and all my warm
under-clothing. I do not much regret our prolonged sojourn in the North,
on my children's account, who, being both hearty and active creatures,
thrive better in this bracing climate than in the relaxing temperature
of the South....

Dear Harriet, I have nothing to tell you; my life externally is
_nothing_; and who can tell the inward history of their bosom--that
internal life, which is often so strangely unlike the other? Suppose I
inform you that I have just come home from a ride of an hour and a half;
that I went out of the city by Broad Street, and returned by Islington
Lane and the Ridge Road--how much the wiser will you be? that the roads
were frozen as hard as iron, and here and there so sheeted with ice that
I had great difficulty in preventing my horse from slipping and falling
down with me, and, being quite alone, without even a servant, I wondered
what _I_ should do if _he_ did. I have a capital horse, whom I have
christened Forester, after the hero of my play, and who grins with
delight, like a dog, when I talk to him and pat him. He is a bright bay,
with black legs and mane, tall and large, and built like a hunter, with
high courage and good temper. I have had him four years, and do not like
to think what would become of me if anything were to happen to him. It
would be necessary that I should commit suicide, for his fellow is not
to be found in "these United States." Dearest Harriet, we hope to come
over to England next September; and if your sister will invite me, I
will come and see you some time before I re-cross the Atlantic. I am
very anxious about my father, and still more anxious about my sister,
and feel heart-weary for the sight of some of my own people, places, and
things; and so. Fate prospering, to speak heathen, I shall go _home_
once more in the autumn of this present 1840: till when, dearest
Harriet, God bless you! and after then, and always,

                              I am ever your affectionate,
                                                                F. A. B.

    [My dear horse, having been sold to a livery-stable keeper, I
    repurchased him by the publication of a small volume of poems, which
    thus proved themselves to _me_ excellent verses. The gallant animal
    broke his hip-joint by slipping in a striding gallop over some wet
    planks, and I had to have him shot. His face--I mean the anguish in
    it after the accident--is among the tragical visions in my memory.]

                                       PHILADELPHIA, February 9th, 1840.

... You ask me if I have read your book on Canada. With infinite
interest and pleasure, and great sympathy and admiration, and much
gratitude for the vindication of women's capabilities, both physical and
mental, which all your books (but this perhaps more than all the others)

It has been, like all your previous works, extremely popular here; and
if you have received no remuneration for it, you are not justly dealt
by, as I am sure its sale has been very considerable, and very
profitable. [Mrs. Jameson was, undoubtedly, one of the greatest
sufferers by the want of an author's copyright in America: her works
were all republished there; and her laborious literary career, her
careful research and painstaking industry, together with her restricted
means and the many claims upon them, made it a peculiar hardship, in her
case, to be deprived of the just reward of the toil by which she gave
pleasure and instruction to so many readers in America, as well as in
her own country.] Your latest publication, "Social Life in Germany," I
have not seen, but have read numerous extracts from it, in the American
literary periodicals.

You ask me if you can "do anything" about my play? I thought I must have
told you of my offering it to Macready, who civilly declined having
anything to do with it. Circumstances induced me to destroy my own copy
of it: the one Macready had is in Harriet's custody, another copy I have
given to Elizabeth Sedgwick, and I now neither know nor care anything
more about it. Once upon a time I wrote it, and that is quite enough to
have had to do with it. Prescott, the historian of Ferdinand and
Isabella, is urgent with me to let him have it published in Boston;
perhaps hereafter, if I should want a penny, and be able to turn an
honest one by so doing, I may.

It is odd that I have not the remotest recollection of reading any of
that play to you. You have mentioned it several times to me, and I have
never been able to recall to my mind, either when I read it to you, or
what portion of it I inflicted upon you. You were lucky, and I wonder
that I let you off with a _portion_ of it; for, for nearly a year after
I finished it, I was in such ecstasies with my own performance, that I
martyrized every soul that had a grain of regard for me, with its

J---- B---- and his brother have just started for Georgia, leaving his
wife and myself in forlorn widowhood, which, (the providence of
railroads and steamboats allowing) is not to last more than three
months. I have been staying nearly three months in their house in town,
expecting every day to depart for the plantation; but we have
procrastinated to such good effect that the Chesapeake Bay is now
unnavigable, being choked up with ice, and the other route involving
seventy miles of night traveling _on the worst road in the United
States_ (think what that means!), it has been judged expedient that the
children and myself should remain behind. I am about, therefore, to
return with them to the Farm, where I shall pass the remainder of the
winter,--how, think you? Why, reading Gibbon's "Decline and Fall," which
I have never read yet, and which I now intend to study with classical
atlas, Bayle's dictionary, the Encyclopædia, and all sorts of "aids to
beginners." How quiet I shall be! I think perhaps I may die some day,
without so much as being aware of it; and if so, beg to record myself in
good season, before that imperceptible event,

                              Yours very truly,
                                                                F. A. B.

                                      BUTLER PLACE, February 16th, 1840.

I have just been looking over a letter of yours, dearest Harriet, as old
as the 19th of last September, describing your passage over the Splügen.
About four days ago I was looking over some engravings of the passes of
the Alps, in a work called "Switzerland Illustrated," by Bartlett, and
lingered over those attempts of human art with the longing I have for
those lands, which I always had, which has never died away entirely, but
seems now reviving again in some of its earliest strength: I can compare
it to nothing but the desire of thirst for water, and I must master it
as I may, for of those mountain-streams I fear I never shall drink, or
look upon their beauty, but in the study of my imagination.

In the hill-country of Berkshire, Massachusetts, where I generally spend
some part of the summer among my friends the Sedgwicks, there is a line
of scenery, forming part of the Green Mountain range, which runs up into
the State of Vermont, and there becomes a noble brotherhood of
mountains, though in the vicinity of Stockbridge and Lenox, where I
summer, but few of them deserve a more exalted title than hill. They are
clothed with a various forest of oak, beech, chestnut, maple, and fir;
and down their sides run wild streams, and in the valleys between them
lie exquisite lakes. Upon the whole, it is the most picturesque scenery
I have ever seen; particularly in the neighborhood of a small town
called Salisbury, thirty miles from Lenox. This is situated in a plain
surrounded by mountains, and upon the same level in its near
neighborhood lie four beautiful small lakes; close above this valley
rises Mount Washington, or, as some Swiss charcoal-burners, who have
emigrated thither, have christened it, Mount Rhigi.

In a recess of this mountain lies a deep ravine and waterfall; and a
precipice, where an arch of rock overhangs a basin, where, many hundred
feet below, the water boils in a mad cauldron, and then plunges away, by
leaps of forty, twenty, and twelve feet, with the intermediate runs
necessary for such jumps, through a deep chasm in the rocks, to a narrow
valley, the whole character of which, I suppose, may represent Swiss
scenery in _very small_.

A week ago J---- B---- and ---- left Philadelphia for the South; and
yesterday I received a letter giving a most deplorable account of their
progress, if progress it could be called, which consisted in going _nine
miles in four hours_, and then returning to Washington, whence they had
started, the road being found utterly impassable. Streams swollen with
the winter snows and spring rains, with their bridges all broken up by
the ice or swept away by the water, intersect these delightful ways; and
one of these, which could not admit of fording, turned them back, to try
their fate in a steamboat, through the ice with which the Chesapeake is
blocked up. This dismal account has in some measure reconciled me to
having been left behind with the children; they have neither of them
been as well as usual this winter, and the season is now so far
advanced, our intended departure being delayed from day to day for three
months, that, besides encountering a severe and perilous journey, we
should have arrived in Georgia to find the weather almost oppressively
hot, and, if we did wisely, to return again, at the end of a fortnight,
to the North.

I have come back to Butler Place with the bairns, and have resumed the
monotonous tenor of my life, which this temporary residence in town had
interrupted, not altogether agreeably; and here I shall pass the rest of
the winter, teaching S---- to read, and sliding through my days in a
state of external quietude, which is not always as nearly allied to
content as it might seem to (_ought_ to) be....

When the children's bed-time comes, and their little feet and voices are
still, the spirit of the house seems to have fallen asleep. I send my
servants to bed, for nobody here keeps late hours (ten o'clock being
considered late), and, in spite of assiduous practicing, reading, and
answering of letters, my evenings are sad in their absolute solitude,
and I am glad when ten o'clock comes, the hour for my retiring, which I
could often find in my heart to anticipate....

I have taken vehemently to worsted-work this winter, and, _instead of a
novel or two_, am going to read Gibbon's "Decline and Fall of the Roman
Empire," which I have never read, and by means of Bayle, classical
atlas, and the Encyclopædia, I mean to make a regular school-room
business of it.

Good-bye, dear. Events are so lacking in my present existence, that I am
longing for the spring as I never did before--for the sight of leaves
and flowers, and the song of birds, and the daily development of the
great natural pageant of the year. I am grateful to God for nothing more
than the abundant beauty with which He has adorned His creation. The
pleasure I derive from its contemplation has survived many others, and
should I live long, will, I think, outlive all that I am now capable

                              Ever affectionately yours,
                                                                F. A. B.

                                      BUTLER PLACE, February 17th, 1840.

... I believe too implicitly in your interest in me and mine, ever to
have _nothing_ to say to you; but my sayings will be rather egotistical,
for the monotony of my life affords me few interests but those which
centre in my family, the head of which left me ten days ago, with his
brother, for their southern estate. I have since had a letter, which, as
it affords an accurate picture of winter traveling in this country,
would, I flatter myself, make your sympathetic hair stand on end.
Listen. On Sunday morning, before day, they set out, two post-coaches,
with four horses, each carrying eight passengers. They got to
Alexandria, which is close to Washington, whence they started without
difficulty, stopped a short time to gird up their loins and take breath,
and at seven o'clock set off. It rained hard; the road was deep with
mud, and very bad; several times the passengers were obliged to get out
of the coach and walk through the rain and mud, the horses being unable
to drag the load through such depths of mire. They floundered on, wading
through mud and fording streams, until eleven o'clock, when they stopped
to breakfast, having come but _eight miles_ in _four hours_. They
consulted whether to go on or turn back: the majority ruled to go on; so
after breakfast they again took the road, but had proceeded but one mile
when it became utterly impassable--the thaw and rain had so swelled a
stream that barred the way that it was too deep to ford; and when it
was quite apparent that they must either turn back or be drowned, they
reluctantly adopted the former course, and got back to Washington late
in the evening, having passed nearly all day in going _nine miles_. I
think you will agree with me, my dear Lady Dacre, that my children and
myself were well out of that party of pleasure; though the very day
before the party set off it was still uncertain whether we should not
accompany them.

The contrary having been determined, I am now very quietly spending the
winter with my chickens at the Farm.... An imaginative nature makes, it
is true, happiness as well as unhappiness for itself, but finds
inevitable ready made disappointment in the mere realities of life.... I
make no excuse for talking "nursery" to you, my dear Lady Dacre. These
are my dearest occupations; indeed, I might say, my only ones.

Have you looked into Marryatt's books on this country? They are full of
funny stories, some of them true stories enough, and some, little
imitation Yankee stories of the captain's own.

Do explain to me what Sydney Smith means by disclaiming Peter Plymley's
letters as he does? Surely he _did_ write them.

This very youthful nation of the United States is "carrying on," to use
their own favorite phrase, in a most unprecedented manner. Their
mercantile and financial experiments have been the dearest of their kind
certainly; and the confusion, embarrassment, and difficulty, in
consequence of these experiments, are universal. Money is scarce, credit
is scarcer, but, nevertheless, they will not lay the lesson to heart.
The natural resources of the country are so prodigious, its wealth so
enormous, so inexhaustible, that it will be presently up and on its feet
again running faster than ever to the next stumbling-post. _Moral_
bankruptcy is what they have to fear, much more than failure of material
riches. It is a strange country, and a strange people; and though I have
dear and good friends among them, I still feel a stranger here, and fear
I shall continue to do so until I die, which God grant I may do at home!
_i.e._, in England.

Give my kindest remembrance to Lord Dacre. We hope to be in England in
September, and I shall come and see you as soon as ever I can.

                    Believe me ever, my dear Lady Dacre,
                              Yours affectionately,
                                                                F. A. B.

                                          BUTLER PLACE, March 1st, 1840.

Thank you, my dearest Harriet, for your extract from my sister's letter
to you.... The strongest of us are insufficient to ourselves in this
life, and if we will not stretch out our hands for help to our fellows,
who, for the most part, are indeed broken reeds and quite as often
pierce as support us, we needs must at last stretch them out to God; and
doubtless these occasions, bitter as they may seem, should be accounted
blest, which make the poor proud human soul discover its own weakness
and God's all-sufficiency....

My winter--or rather, what remains of it--is like to pass in
uninterrupted quiet and solitude; and you will probably have the
satisfaction of receiving many _short_ letters from me, for I know not
where I shall find the material for long ones. To be sure, S----'s
sayings and F----'s looks might furnish me with something to say, but I
have a dread of beginning to talk about my children, for fear I should
never leave off, for that is apt to be a "story without an end."

I hear they are going to bestow upon my father, on his return to
England, a silver vase, valued at several hundred pounds. I am
base-minded, dear Harriet, grovelling, and sordid; and were I he, would
rather have a shilling's worth of honor, and the rest of the vase in
hard cash: but he has lived his life upon this sort of thing, and I
think with great pleasure of the great pleasure it will give him. I am
very well, and always most affectionately yours,

                                                                F. A. B.

                                         BUTLER PLACE, March 12th, 1840.

It is only a few days since I received your letter with the news of Mr.
F----'s attack, from which it is but natural to apprehend that he may
not recover.... The combination of the loss of one's father, and of the
home of one's whole life, is indeed a severe trial; though in this case,
the one depending on the other, and Mr. F----'s age being so advanced,
Emily with her steadfast mind has probably contemplated the possibility
of this event, and prepared herself for it, as much as preparation may
be made against affliction, which, however long looked for, when it
comes always seems to bring with it some unforeseen element of harsh
surprise. We never can imagine what will happen to us, precisely as it
_does_ happen to us; and overlook in anticipation, not only minute
mitigations, but small stings of aggravation, quite incalculable till
they are experienced.... I could cry to think that I shall never again
see the flowerbeds and walks and shrubberies of Bannisters. I think
there is something predominantly material in my nature, for the sights
and sounds of outward things have always been my chiefest source of
pleasure; and as I grow older this in nowise alters; so little so, that
gathering the first violets of the spring the other morning, it seemed
to me that they were things to _love_ almost more than creatures of my
own human kind. I do not believe I am a normal human being; and at my
death, only _half a soul_ will pass into a spiritual existence, the
other half will go and mingle with the winds that blow, and the trees
that grow, and the waters that flow, in this world of material

Do I remember Widmore, you ask me. Yes, truly.... I remember the gay
colors of the flowerbeds, and the fine picturesque trees in the garden,
and the shady quietness of the ground-floor rooms....

You ask me how I have replaced Margery. Why, in many respects, if indeed
not in all, very indifferently; but I could not help myself. Her leaving
me was a matter of positive necessity, and some things tend to reconcile
me to her loss. I believe she would have made S---- a Catholic. The
child's imagination had certainly received a very strong impression from
her; and soon after her departure, as I was hearing S---- her prayers,
she begged me to let her repeat that prayer to "the blessed Virgin,"
which her nurse had taught her. I consider this a direct breach of faith
on the part of Margery, who had once before undertaken similar
instructions in spite of distinct directions to interfere in no way with
the child's religious training.

The proselytizing spirit of her religion was, I suppose, stronger than
her conscience, or rather, was the predominant element in it, as it is
in all very devout Catholics; and the opportunity of impressing my
little girl with what she considered vital truth, not to be neglected;
and upon this ground alone I am satisfied that it is better she should
have left me, for though it would not mortally grieve me if hereafter my
child were conscientiously to embrace Romanism, I have no desire that
she should be educated in what I consider erroneous views upon the most
momentous of all subjects.

I have been more than once assured, on good authority, that it is by no
means an infrequent practice of the Roman Catholic Irish women employed
as nurses in American families, to carry their employers' babies to
their own churches and have them baptized, of course without consent or
even knowledge of their parents. The secret baptism is duly registered,
and the child thus smuggled into the pope's fold, never, if possible,
entirely lost sight of by the priest who administered the regenerating
sacrament to it. The saving of souls is an irresistible motive,
especially when the saving of one's own is much facilitated by the

The woman I have in Margery's place is an Irish Protestant, a very good
and conscientious girl, but most wofully ignorant, and one who murders
our luckless mother-tongue after a fashion that almost maddens me.
However, as with some cultivation, education, reading, reflection, and
that desire to do what is best that a mother alone can feel for her own
child, I cannot but be conscious of my own inability in all points to
discharge this great duty, the inability of my nursery-maid does not
astonish or dismay me. The remedy for the nurse's deficiencies must be
in _me_, and the remedy for mine in God, to whose guidance I commit
myself and my darlings.... Margery was very anxious to remain with me as
my maid; but we have reduced our establishment, and I have no longer any
maid of my own, therefore I could not keep her....

With regard to attempting to make "reason the guide of your child's
actions," that, of course, must be a very gradual process, and may, in
my opinion, be tried too early. Obedience is the first virtue of which a
young child is capable, the first duty it can perform; and the authority
of a parent is, I think, the first impression it should receive,--a
strictly reasonable and just claim, inasmuch as, furnishing my child
with all its means of existence, as well as all its amusements and
enjoyments, regard for my requests is the proper and only return it can
make in the absence of sufficient judgment, to decide upon their
propriety, and the motives by which they are dictated.

Good-bye, dearest Harriet.

                              I am ever affectionately yours,
                                                                F. A. B.

                                         BUTLER PLACE, March 16th, 1840.

It was with infinite pain that I received your last letter [a very
unfavorable report, almost a sentence of death, had been pronounced by
the physicians upon my friend's dearest friend, Miss Dorothy Wilson],
and yet I know not, except your sorrow, what there is so deplorable in
the fact that Dorothy, who is one of the living best prepared for death,
should have received a summons, which on first reading of it shocked me
so terribly.

We calculate most blindly, for the most part, in what form the call to
"change our life" may be least unwelcome; but to one whose eyes have
long been steadily fixed upon that event, I do not believe the manner of
their death signifies much.

Pain, our poor human bodies shrink from; and yet it has been endured,
almost as if unfelt, not only in the triumphant death of the mob-hunted
martyr, but in the still, lonely, and, by all but God, unseen agony of
the poor and humble Christian, in those numerous cases where persecution
indeed was not, but the sorrowful trial of the neglect and careless
indifference of their fellow-beings, the total absence of all
sympathy--a heavy desolation whether in life or death.

I have just lost a friend, Dr. Follen, a man to whose character no words
of mine could do justice. He has been publicly mourned from more than
one Christian pulpit; and Dr. Channing, in a discourse after his death,
has spoken of him as one whom "many thought the most perfect man they
ever knew." Among those many I was one. I have never seen any one whom I
revered, loved, and admired more than I did Dr. Follen. He perished,
with above a hundred others, in a burning steam-boat, on the Long Island
Sound; at night, and in mid-winter, the freezing waters affording no
chance of escape to the boldest swimmer or the most tenacious clinger to
existence. He perished in the very flower of vigorous manhood, cut off
in the midst of excellent usefulness, separated, _for the first time_,
from a most dearly loved wife and child, who were prevented from
accompanying him by sickness. In a scene of indescribable terror,
confusion, and dismay, that noble and good man closed his life; and all
who have spoken of him have said, "Could one have seen his countenance,
doubtless it was to the last the mirror of his serene and steadfast
spirit;" and for myself, after the first shock of hearing of that awful
calamity, I could only think it mattered not how or where that man met
his death. He was always near to God, and who can doubt that, in that
scene of apparent horror and despair, God was very near to him?

Even so, my dearest Harriet, do I now think of the impending fate of
Dorothy; but oh, the difference between the sudden catastrophe in the
one case, and the foreknowledge granted in the other! Time, whose awful
uses our blind security so habitually forgets, is granted to her, with
its inestimable value marked on it by the finger of death, undimmed by
the busy hands of earthly pursuits and interests; she has, and will
have, her dearest friends and lovers about her to the very end; and I
know of no prayer that I should frame for her, but exemption from acute
pain. For you, my dearest Harriet, if pain and woe and suffering are
appointed you, it is to some good purpose, and you may make it answer
its best ends.

These seem almost cold-hearted words, and yet God knows from how warm a
heart, full of love and aching with sympathy, I write them! But sorrow
is His angel, His minister, His messenger who does His will, waiting
upon our souls with blessed influences. My only consolation, in thinking
upon your affliction, is to remember that all events are ordered by our
Father, and to reflect, as I often do----

I had written thus far, dearest Harriet, when a miserable letter from
Georgia came to interrupt me. How earnestly, in the midst of the tears
through which I read it, I had to recall those very thoughts, in my own
behalf, which I was just urging upon you, you can imagine....

We may not choose our own discipline; but happy are they who are called
to suffer themselves, rather than to see those they love do so!...

My head aches, and my eyes ache, and my heart aches, and I cannot muster
courage to write any more. God bless you, my dearest Harriet. Remember
me most affectionately to dear Dorothy, and

                              Believe me ever yours,
                                                                F. A. B.

    [Dr. Charles Follen, known in his own country as Carl Follenius,
    became an exile from it for the sake of his political convictions,
    which in his youth he had advocated with a passionate fervor that
    made him, even in his college days, obnoxious to its governing
    authorities. He wrote some fine spirited Volkslieder that the
    students approved of more than the masters; and was so conspicuous
    in the vanguard of liberal opinion, that the Vaterland became an
    unwholesome residence for him, and he emigrated to America, where
    all his aspirations towards enlightened freedom found "elbow-room."

    He became an ordained Unitarian preacher; and it was a striking
    tribute to his spirit of humane tolerance as well as to his eloquent
    advocacy of his own high spiritual faith, that he was once earnestly
    and respectfully solicited to give a series of discourses upon
    Christianity, to a society of intelligent men who professed
    themselves dis-believers in it (atheists, materialists, for aught I
    know), inasmuch as from him they felt sure of a powerful, clear, and
    earnest exposition of his own opinions, unalloyed by uttered or
    implied condemnation of them for differing from him. I do not know
    whether Dr. Follen complied with this petition, but I remember his
    saying how much he had been touched by it, and how glad he should be
    to address such a body of mis- or dis-believers. He was a man of
    remarkable physical vigor, and excelled in all feats of strength and
    activity, having, when first he came to Boston, opened a gymnasium
    for the training of the young Harvard scholars in such exercises. He
    had the sensibility and gentleness of a woman, the imagination of a
    poet, and the courage of a hero; a genial kindly sense of humor, and
    buoyant elastic spirit of joyousness, that made him, with his fine
    intellectual and moral qualities, an incomparable friend and teacher
    to the young, for whose rejoicing vitality he had the sympathy of
    fellowship as well as the indulgence of mature age, and whose
    enthusiasm he naturally excited to the highest degree.

    His countenance was the reflection of his noble nature. My
    intercourse with him influenced my life while it lasted, and long
    after his death the thought of what would have been approved or
    condemned by him affected my actions.

    Many years after his death, I was speaking of him to Wæleker, the
    Nestor of German professors, the most learned of German
    philologists, historians, archæologists, and antiquarians, and he
    broke out into enthusiastic praise of Follen, who had been his
    pupil at Jena, and to whose mental and moral worth he bore, with
    deep emotion, a glowing testimony.]

                                         BUTLER PLACE, March 23rd, 1840.

I have just learned, dearest Harriet, that the Censorship [office of
licenser of plays] has been transferred from my father to my brother
John, which I am very glad to hear, as I imagine, though I do not know
it, that the death of Mr. Beaumont must have put an end to the existence
of the _British and Foreign Review_, for which he employed my brother as

If the salary of licenser is an addition to the income attached to his
editorship of the _Review_, my brother will be placed in comfortable
circumstances; and I hope this may prove to be the case--though ladies
are not apt to be so in love with abstract political principles as to
risk certain thousands every year merely to promote their quarterly
illustration in a _Review_, and I shall not be at all surprised to learn
that Mrs. Beaumont declines doing so any longer.

    [Mrs. Wentworth Beaumont, mother of my brother John's friend, must
    have been a woman of very decided political opinions, and very
    liberal views of the value of her convictions--in hard cash. Left
    the widowed mistress of a princely estate in Yorkshire, on the
    occasion when the most passionate contest recorded in modern
    electioneering made it doubtful whether the Government candidate or
    the one whose politics were more in accordance with her own would be
    returned to Parliament, she, then a very old lady, drove in her
    travelling-carriage with four horses to Downing Street, and
    demanding to see the Prime Minister, with whom she was well
    acquainted, accosted him thus: "Well, my lord, are you quite
    determined to make your man stand for _our_ seat?" "Yes, Mrs.
    Beaumont, I think quite determined." "Very well," replied the lady;
    "I am on my way down to Yorkshire, with eighty thousand pounds in
    the carriage for my man. Try and do better than that."

    I am afraid the _pros_ and _cons_ for Woman's Suffrage would alike
    have thought that very expensive female partisan politician hardly
    to be trusted with the franchise. Lord Dacre, who told me that
    anecdote, told me also that on one occasion forty thousand pounds,
    to his knowledge, had been spent by Government on a contested
    election--I think he said at Norwich.] ...

The longer I live, the less I think of the importance of any or all
outward circumstances, and the more important I think the original
powers and dispositions of people submitted to their influence. God has
permitted no situation to be exempt from trial and temptation, and few,
if any, to be entirely exempt from good influences and opportunities for
using them. The tumult of the inward creature may exist in the midst of
the calmest outward daily life, and the peace which passeth
understanding subsist in the turmoil of the most adverse
circumstances.... Our desires tending towards particular objects, we
naturally seek the position most favorable for obtaining them; and,
stand where we will, we are still, if we so choose, on the heavenward
road. If we know how barely responsible for what they are many human
beings necessarily must be, how much better does God know it! With many
persons, whose position we regret and think unfortunate for their
character, we might have to go far back, and retrace in the awful
influence of inheritance the source of the evils we deplore in them. We
need have much faith in the future to look hopefully at the present, and
perfect faith in the mercy of our Father in heaven, who alone knows how
much or how little of His blessed light has reached every soul of us
through precept and example....

You ask me of Margery's successor: she is an honest, conscientious, and
most ignorant Irish Protestant. You cannot conceive of what materials
our households are composed here. The Americans, whose superior
intelligence and education make them by far the most desirable servants
we could have, detest the condition of domestic service so utterly, that
it is next to impossible to procure them, and absolutely impossible to
retain them above a year. The lowest order of Irish are the only persons
that can be obtained. They offer themselves, and are accepted of hard
necessity, indiscriminately, for any situation in a house, from that of
lady's-maid to that of cook; and, indeed, they are equally unfit for
all, having probably never seen so much as the inside of a decent house
till they came to this country. To illustrate--my housemaid is the
sister of my present nursery-maid, and on the occasion of the latter
taking her holiday in town, the other had the temporary charge of the
children, and, when first she undertook it, had to be duly enlightened
as to the toilet purposes of a wash-hand basin, a sponge, and a
toothbrush, not one of which had she apparently been familiar with
before; and this would have been the case with a large proportion of the
Irish girls who present themselves here to be engaged as our servants.

Our household has been reduced for some time past, and I have no maid of
my own; and when the nurse is in town I am obliged to forego the usual
decency of changing my dress for dinner, from the utter incapacity of my
housemaid to fasten it upon my back. Of course, except tolerably
faithful washing, dressing, and bodily care, I can expect nothing for my
children from my present nurse. She is a very good and pious girl, and
though her language is nothing short of heathen Greek, her sentiments
are very much those of a good Christian. This same service is a source
of considerable daily tribulations, and I wish I only improved all my
opportunities of practising patience and forbearance....

                                                                F. A. B.

                                         BUTLER PLACE, March 25th, 1840.
  MY DEAR T----,

I have been reading with infinite interest the case of the _Amistad_;
but understand, from Mrs. Charles Sedgwick, that there is to be an
appeal upon the matter. As, however, the result will, I presume, be the
same, the more publicity the affair obtains, the more it and all kindred
subjects are discussed, spoken of, thought on, and written about, the
better for us unfortunate slaveholders.

I am very much obliged to you for sending me that article on Mr. Jay's
book. You know how earnestly I look to every sign of the approaching
termination of this national disgrace and individual misfortune; and
when men of ability and character conscientiously raise their voices
against it, who can be so faint-hearted as not to have faith in its
ultimate downfall?

Your very name pledges you in some sort to this cause, and, among your
other important duties, let me (who am now involuntarily implicated in
this terrible abuse) beg you to remember that this one is an
inheritance; and for the sake of those, justly honored, who have
bequeathed it to you, discharge it with the ability nature has so
bountifully endowed you with, and you cannot fail to accomplish great

In reading your article, I was much reminded of Legget, whose place, it
seems to me, there is none but you to fill.

I have just been interrupted by a letter from Elizabeth, confirming the
news of your sister's return from Europe. I congratulate you heartily
upon the termination of your anxieties about her. Remember me most
kindly to her, and to your mother, if my message can be made acceptable
to her in her present affliction, and believe me

                              Ever yours most truly,
                                                                F. A. B.

    [The _Amistad_ was a low raking schooner, conveying between fifty
    and sixty negroes, fresh from Africa, from Havannah to Guamapah,
    Port Principe, to the plantation of one of the passengers. The
    captain and three of the crew were murdered by the negroes. Two
    planters were spared to navigate the vessel back to Africa. Forced
    to steer east all day, these white men steered west and north all
    night; and after two months, coming near New London, the schooner
    was captured by the United States schooner _Washington_, and carried
    into port, where a trial was held by the Circuit Court at Hertford,
    transferred to the District Court, and sent by appeal to the United
    States Supreme Court. The District Court decreed that one man, not
    of the recent importation, should, by the treaty of 1795 with Spain,
    be restored to his master; the rest, delivered to the President of
    the United States, to be by him transported to their homes in

    Before the case could come before the United States Supreme Court,
    the President (Mr. Van Buren), upon the requisition of the Spanish
    minister, had the negroes conveyed, by the United States schooner
    _Grampus_, back to Havannah and to slavery, under the treaty of

    The case created an immense excitement among the friends and foes of
    slavery. The point made by the counsel for the negroes being that
    they were not slaves, but free Africans, freshly brought to Cuba,
    contrary to the latest enacted laws of Spain. The schooner _Amistad_
    started on her voyage to Africa in June, 1839, reached New London in
    August, and was sent back in January, 1840.]

                                          BUTLER PLACE, April 5th, 1840.

I have received both your letters concerning Dorothy's health. The one
which you sent by the _British Queen_ came before one you previously
wrote me from Liverpool, and destroyed all the pleasure I should have
received from the cheerful spirit in which the latter was written.

I was reading the other evening a sermon of Dr. Channing's, suggested by
the miserable destruction of a steamboat with the loss of upwards of a
hundred lives; among them, one precious to all who knew him perished, a
man who, I think, had few equals, and to whose uncommon character all
who ever knew him bear witness.

The fate of so excellent a human being, cut off in the flower of his
age, in the midst of a career of uncommon worth and usefulness, inspired
Dr. Channing, who was his dear friend, with one of the finest discourses
in which Christian faith ever "justified the ways of God to Man."

In reading that eloquent sermon, so full of hope, of trust, of
resignation, and rational acknowledgment of the great purposes of
sorrow, my thoughts turned to you, dearest Harriet, and dwelt upon your
present trial, and on the impending loss of your dear friend. I have not
the sermon by me, or I could scarce resist transcribing passages from
it; but if you can procure it, do. It was written on the occasion of the
burning of the steamboat _Lexington_, and in memory of Dr. Charles

One of the views that impressed me most, of those urged by Channing, was
that sorrow--however considered by us, individually, as a shocking
accident,--in God's providence, was a large part of the appointed
experience of existence: no blot, no jar, no sudden violent visitation
of wrath; but part of the light, and harmony, and order, of our
spiritual education; an essential and invaluable portion of our
experience, of infinite importance in our moral training. To all it is
decreed to suffer; through our bodies, through our minds, through our
affections, through the noblest as well as the lowest of our attributes
of being. This then, he argues, which enters so largely into the
existence of every living soul, should never be regarded with an eye of
terror, as an appalling liability or a fearful unaccountable disturbance
in the course of our lives.

I suppose it is the rarefied air our spirits breathe on great heights
of achievement; as vital to our moral nature as the pure mountain
element, which stimulates our lungs, is to our physical being. In
sorrow, faithfully borne, the glory and the blessing of holiness become
hourly more apparent to us; and it must be good for us to suffer, since
our dear Father lays suffering upon us. If we believe one word of what
we daily repeat, and profess to believe, of His mercy and goodness, we
must needs believe that the pain and grief which enter so largely into
His government of and provision for us are all part of His goodness and
mercy.... I pray that you, and I, and all, may learn more and more to
accept His will, even as His Son, our perfect pattern, accepted it....

J---- B---- has already returned home from the South, weary of the heat,
and the oppressive _smell of the orange flowers_ on Butler's Island....

The tranquillity of my outward circumstances has its counterweight m the
excitability of my nature. I think upon the whole, the task and load of
life is very equal, its labors and its burdens very equal: they only
have real sorrow who make it for themselves, in their own hearts, by
their own faults; and they only have real joy who make and keep it there
by their own effort....

Katharine Sedgwick writes in great disappointment at your not being in
Italy this winter, and so does her niece, my dear little Kate. Those are
loving hearts, and most good Christians; they have been like sisters to
me in this strange land; I am gratefully attached to them, and long for
their return. God bless you, dear. Give my affectionate remembrance to
Dorothy, and

                              Believe me ever yours,
                                                                F. A. B.

                                         BUTLER PLACE, April 30th, 1840.

Of course I have begun to die already: which I believe people do as soon
as they reach maturity; at any rate, the process begins, I am sure, much
earlier, and is much more gradual and uninterrupted, than we suppose or
are aware of. Most persons, I think, begin to die at about thirty; some
take a longer, and some a shorter time in becoming quite entirely dead,
but after that age I do not believe anybody is quite entirely alive....
Still, though somewhat dead (as I have most reason to know), to the
eyes of most people I am even now an uncommonly lively woman; and while
my soul is at peace, and my spirits cheerful, I am not myself painfully
conscious that I am dying.... The treasure of health was mine in
perfection, almost for five and twenty years, and I do not see that I
should have any right to complain that I no longer possess it as fully
as I once did....

You and I have changed places curiously enough, since first we began to
hold arguments together; and it seems as strange that you should
disparage reason to me, as the chief instrument of education, as that I
should be upholding it against your disparagement. The longer I live,
the more convinced my _reason_ is of the goodness and wisdom of God; and
from what my _reason_ can perceive of these attributes of our Father my
_faith_ derives the surest foundation on which to build perfect trust
and confidence, where my _reason_ can no longer discern the meaning of
my existence, the exact purpose of its several events, and significance
of its circumstances. Entire faith in God seems to me entirely
reasonable; but, indeed, I have yet had no experience of any
dispensations of Divine Providence which at all tried or shook my
reason, or disturbed my trust in their unfailing righteousness.

Our reason, above all our other faculties, shows us how little we can
know; and it is the very function of reason to perceive how finite,
vague, and feeble all our conceptions of the Almighty must be; how
utterly futile all our attempts to fathom His purposes, whose ways are
assuredly not our ways, nor His thoughts our thoughts.

The spring has come; the mysterious resurrection which with its annually
recurring miracle adorns the earth, and makes the heavens above it
bright; and even on this uninteresting place, the flush of rosy bloom
down in the apple-orchard, the tender green halo above, the golden green
atmosphere beneath the trees of the avenue, the smell of the blossoms,
the songs of the birds, awaken impressions of delight; and while the
senses rejoice, the soul worships. Tulips, and hyacinths, and lilacs,
and monthly roses shake about in the soft wind, and scatter their
colored petals like jewels among the young vivid verdure. Delicate
shadows of delicate leaves lie drawn in quivering tracery on the smooth
emerald grass. My garden is a source of pleasure and perpetual
occupation to me. Here, where ornamental cultivation is so little
attended to, my small improvements of our small pleasure-ground are
repaid, not only by my own enjoyment, but by the admiring commendation
of all who knew the place before we came to it; and as within the last
two years I have planted upwards of two hundred trees, I begin to feel
as if I had really done something in my generation. Good-bye, dear.

  I remain ever yours,
                                                                F. A. B.

                                           BUTLER PLACE, June 7th, 1840.

Thank you, my dear Mrs. Jameson, for your letter of April 4th. It was
interesting and amusing enough to have been written by one whose
thoughts and feelings were far otherwise free and cheerful than yours
could have been when you indited it. I lament the protraction of your
father's illness very much, for your mother's sake, and all your sakes.
A serious illness at his period of life is not a circumstance to cause
surprise; but its long continuance is to be deprecated, no less for the
sufferer than those whose health and strength, expended in anxious
watching, can leave them but little fortitude to meet the result should
it prove fatal. I hope to hear in your next that your mother is relieved
from her present painful position, and that your own spirits are more

I have not seen even as much as an extract from Leigh Hunt's play [I
think called a "Legend of Florence," and founded upon the incident that
gave its name to the Via della Morte in the fair city]; but I am very
glad he has written one, and hope he will write others: certain elements
of his genius are essentially those of an effective dramatist, and
surely, if the public can swallow a play of ----'s, it might be brought
to taste one of Leigh Hunt's. I dislike everything that ---- ever wrote,
and think he ought to have been a Frenchman. Can one say worse of a man
who is not?...

You ask me if writing plays is not pleasanter and more profitable than
reading Gibbon. Certainly, if one only has the mind to do the one
instead of the other, which at present I have not.

I have sometimes fancied it was my duty to work out such talent of that
kind as was in me; but I have hitherto not felt at all sure that I had
any such gift which, you know, would be necessary before I could
determine what was my duty with regard to it. I never write anything
but upon impulse--all my compositions are impromptus; and the species of
atmosphere I live in is not favorable to that order of inspiration. The
outward sameness of my life; its uniformity of color, level surface, and
monotonous tone; its unvaried tenor, alike devoid of pleasurable and
painful excitement; its wholesome abundance of daily recurring trivial
occupations, and absence of any great or varied interests; its entire
isolation from all literary and intellectual society, which might strike
the fire from the sleepy stone--all these influences prevail against my

I once thought the material lay within me, but it will probably moulder
away for want of use; and as long as I am neither the worse woman, wife,
nor mother for its neglect, I take it it matters very little, and there
is no harm done. My serious interest in life is the care of my children,
and my principal recreation is my garden; and though I formerly
sometimes imagined I had faculties whose exercise might demand a wider
sphere, the consciousness that I discharge very imperfectly the
obligations of that which I occupy, ought to satisfy me that its homely
duties and modest tasks are more than sufficient for my abilities; and
though I am not satisfied with myself, I should be with my existence,
since, such as it is, it furnishes me with more work than I do as it
should be done.

From the interest you express in Fanny Ellsler, you will be glad to hear
that her success here has been triumphant. I believe the great mass of
people always recognize and acknowledge excellence when they see it,
though their stupid or ignorant toleration of what is mediocre, or even
bad, would seem to indicate the contrary.... The general mind of man is
capable of perceiving the most excellent in all things, and prompt to
seize it, too, when it meets with it. Even in morals it does so
theoretically, however the difficulty of adhering to high standards may
make the actions of most people conform but little to their best
conceptions of right. The idea of perfection is recognized by the spirit
of creatures capable of and destined for perfection in all things,
whether great or small; and so (since this is _à propos_ of opera
dancing) Fanny Ellsler's performances have been appreciated here to a
degree that would astonish those who forget that education, though it
develops, does not create our finer perceptions, and, moreover, that the
finest are commoner than is commonly believed. The possession is almost
universal: the cultivation in _any_ degree worth anything comparatively
rare, and in a _high_ degree very rare indeed everywhere; and
here--well! it does not exist.

I hope we shall see you in England in the autumn; I am using every
endeavor not to be sent over alone.... I cannot bear to go to England
again a "widow bewitched."

                              I am ever yours most truly,
                                                                F. A. B.

                                           BUTLER PLACE, June 8th, 1840.

It is not to you that I apologize for talking over-much about my
children, but to myself.... For what said the witty Frenchman of a man's
love for wife and child? "_Ah! bien c'est de l'égoïsme à trois._" ... I
hope you will see my children, both them and me, in a very few months;
for I think we are coming to England in September, and I shall surely
not leave it without borrowing some of your company from you, let you be
where you may....

I must go and dress for dinner, hence the brevity of this letter, which
pray accept for "the soul of wit."

Did you ever see a humming-bird? Have they them in Italy? We have a
honeysuckle hedge here, where the little jewels of creatures stuff
themselves incessantly, early and late, sabbaths and week-days,
flickering over the sweet bushes of fragrance, like the diamonds of
modern fashion set on elastic wires, to make them quiver and increase
their sparkle and brilliancy. I should like to have written some more to

                              I am ever your affectionate
                                                                F. A. B.

                                          BUTLER PLACE, June 28th, 1840.
  MY DEAR T----,

Your discoveries in the private character of Sir Samuel Romilly are none
to me. I have known those who knew him intimately. My brother was school
and college mate of his sons, one of whom I know very well; and their
father's character, in all its most endearing aspects, was familiar to
me. I think I was once told (not by them, however, of course) that the
melancholy induced by the loss of his wife had been the chief cause of
his destroying himself, for he was devotedly and passionately attached
to her.

We go every night to see Fanny Ellsler; only think what an extraordinary
effort of dissipation for me, who hardly ever stir abroad of an evening,
and who had almost as much forgotten the inside of a theatre as Falstaff
had the inside of a church! My admiration for her grows rather than
diminishes, though she is a better actress even than dancer, which I
think speaks in favor of her intellect. Did you ever see Taglioni? Who
invented and who suggested the expression the "poetry of motion"? It
should have been _made_ for her. Her dancing is like nothing but poetic
inspiration, and seems as if she was composing while she executed it. I
wonder if it is the ballet-master who devises all the steps of these
great dancers,--of course, not the national dances, but the
inconceivably lovely things that Taglioni does, or whether she orders
her own steps, and (given a certain dramatic situation and a certain
strain of music) floats or flies, or glides, or gyrates at her own will
and pleasure. Did you ever see her in the "Sylphide"? What an exquisite
pathetic dream of supernatural sentiment that was! Other dances are as
graceful as possible; that woman was grace itself.

I was saying once to my friend, Frederick Rackeman, that Chopin's music
made me think of Taglioni's dancing, to which he replied, to my great
surprise, that Chopin had said that he had more than once received his
inspiration from Taglioni's dancing; a curious instance of influence so
strong as to be recognized by one who was perfectly unaware of it. If I
remember rightly, Gibson, the sculptor, said that he owed many
suggestions to the vigorous and graceful dancing of Cerito; but those,
of course, were a suggestion of form to a creator of form, and not an
inspiration of exquisite sound gathered from exquisite motion, as in the
instance of Taglioni and Chopin.

Certain music suggests the waving of trees, as in the Notturno in
Mendelssohn's "Midsummer Night's Dream" and Schubert's exquisite
_beckoning_ song of the linden tree.

Certainly dancers deserve to be well paid when one thinks of the
mechanical labor, the daily hours of _battements_ and _changements de
pieds_, and turning, and twisting, and torturing of the limbs before
this apparently spontaneous result of mere movement can be obtained.

Ellsler has great dramatic power. Her Tarentelle and Wylie are really
finely tragical in parts; but then she had a first-rate _head_ as well
as foot training.

She is a wonderful artist; but there is something unutterably sad to me
in the contemplation of such a career. The blending in most unnatural
union of the elements of degradation and moral misery with such
exquisite perceptions of beauty, grace, and refinement, produces the
impression of a sort of monstrosity, a deformity of the whole higher
nature, which fills one with poignant compassion and regret. Poor, fair,
admired, despised, flattered, forlorn souls!...

Pray come and see us when you can, and

                              Believe me very truly yours,
                                                                F. A. B.

                                          BUTLER PLACE, June 26th, 1840.

Mr. Combe and Cecilia spent the day with us on their way to New York,
and I did rejoice to think her pilgrimage was over. She has gone through
what her former habits of life must have made a severe experience in
travelling in this country. Her affection for her husband, and her
devotion to his views, are unbounded, and have helped her to submit to
her trial with a cheerfulness and good humor worthy of all praise; for
the luxurious comfort of her life in her mother's house was certainly a
bad preparation for roughing it, as she has been doing for some months
past, for the sake of the phrenologist and his phrenology.... I never
knew any one more improved by the blessed discipline of happiness than
she appears to be. I am afraid my incapacity to accept the whole of
their system would always prevent our being as good friends as we might
otherwise with opportunity become. Perhaps, however, as the opportunity
is not likely to offer often, it does not much matter....

Saunders, the miniature-painter, of London celebrity, has come out here
to look at the pretty faces on this side of the water.... He told me
that he had once executed to order a miniature of me, partly from seeing
me on the stage, and partly from memory. I knew nothing whatever of
this, and think it is one among the many nuisances of being a "public
character," or what the American Minister's wife said her position had
made her, "_Une femme publique_," that one's likeness may thus be
stolen, and sold or bought by anybody who chooses to traffic in such

I remember my mother telling me of a painful circumstance which had
occurred to her from the same cause. A young officer of some
distinction, who died in India, left among his effects a miniature of
her; and she was disagreeably surprised by receiving from his mother a
heartbroken appeal to her, saying that the fact of her son's being in
possession of this portrait led her to hope that perhaps my mother might
possess one of him, and entreating her, if such were the case, to permit
her (his mother) to have a copy of it, as she had no likeness of her
son. My mother was obliged to reply that she had no such portrait, and
had never known or even heard the name of the gentleman who was in
possession of hers....

How many things make one feel as if one's whole life was only a confused
dream! Wouldn't it be odd to wake at the end, and find one had not lived
at all? Many perhaps will wake at the end, and find it so indeed in one
sense,--which brings us back to the more serious aspect of things....

I had some time ago a joint-stock letter from my brother John and his
wife, informing me of the birth of their son. I do not think they
mentioned who was to be its godmother; but I quite agree with Mrs.
Kemble (my Uncle John's widow), as to the inexpediency of undertaking
such a sponsorship for any one's child. If it means anything, it means
something so serious that I should shrink from such a responsibility;
and if it means (as it generally does) nothing, I think it would be
better omitted altogether. When I was at home I dissuaded my sister from
standing godmother to their little girl; but I do not think any of them
understood my motive for doing so....

You ask me whether the specimens of Irish order, neatness, and
intelligence which came over here to fill our domestic ranks are beyond
training. Truly, training is, for the most part, so far beyond _them_,
that it is no easy matter to simplify even the first rudiments of the
science of civilization sufficiently to render them intelligible to
these fair countrywomen of yours. Patience is a fine thing, and might
accomplish something, perhaps; but there are insuperable bars to any
hope of their progress in the high wages which they can all command at
once, whether they ever saw the inside of a decent house before they
came to this country or not; the abundance of situations; and the
absence of everything like superior competition. The extraordinary
comparative prosperity to which these poor ignorant girls are suddenly
introduced on their arrival here, the high pay, the profusely plentiful
living, the _equality_ treatment, which must seem almost _quality_
treatment to them, presently make them impertinent and unsteady; and as
they can all command a new situation the instant that, for any cause,
they leave the one they are in (unfit for the commonest situation in a
decent household as they are), it is hardly worth their while, out of a
mere abstract love of perfection, to labor at any very great improvement
of their powers. A residence of some years in this country generally
develops their intelligence into a sort of sharp-sighted calculating
shrewdness, which they do not bring with them, but no way improves their
own quick native wit and natural national humor. Of course there are
exceptions; but the majority of them, after a short stay in America,
contrive to combine their own least desirable race qualities with the
independent tone of pert familiarity, the careless extravagance, and the
passion for dress of American girls of the lower class....

                                                                F. A. B.

                                            BUTLER PLACE, July 8th 1840.

Perhaps, dearest Harriet, it might be better for me not to come to
England, inasmuch as my roots are beginning to spread in my present
soil, and to transplant them, even for a short time, might check the
process materially.... But while my father still lives, I shall hope to
revisit England once in every few years: when he is gone, I will give up
all the rest that I own on the other side of the water, and remain here
until it might be thought desirable for us to visit, not England only,
but Europe; and should that never appear desirable, why, then, remain
here till I die.

My father's health received a beneficial stimulus from the excitement of
his temporary return to the stage; but before that, his condition was
by all accounts very unsatisfactory; and I am afraid that when the
effect of the impulse his physical powers received from the pleasurable
exertion of acting subsides, he may again relapse into feebleness,
dejection, and general disorder of the system, from which he appeared to
be suffering before he made this last professional effort. I _must_ see
him once more, and he has written to me to say that as soon as he knows
when we are coming to England, he will meet us there. He will, I am
pretty sure, bring my sister with him, and this is an additional reason
why I am very anxious to be in England this autumn.... I have no doubt
that they will both come to England in September, to meet me, and I
presume we should remain together until I am obliged to return to

I have not expressed to you, my dearest Harriet, my delight at your
relief from immediate anxiety about Dorothy. Sorrow seems to me so
peculiarly severe in its administration--or discipline, should I call
it?--to your spirit, that I thank God that its heavy pressure is lifted
from your heart for the present. Dorothy is one of those with whom I
always feel sure that all is well, let their circumstances or situation
be what they will; but I rejoice that she is spared physical suffering,
and preserved to you, to whom she is so infinitely precious....

                                                                F. A. B.

                                               LENOX, August 15th, 1840.

... You bid me tell you when I shall leave America to pay my promised
visit to my father. I have been thrown into a state of complete
uncertainty by receiving a letter from my brother John, which informs me
of my sister's engagement at Naples and Palermo, and possible further
engagements at Malta and _Constantinople_! Think of her going to sing to
the Turks!... I am at present alone here, and of course cannot myself
determine the question of my going alone all over the Continent to join
my father and Adelaide.... It is possible that I may have to renounce my
visit to Europe altogether for the present, and, but for my father, I
could do so without a moment's hesitation, but I dread postponing seeing
him again, and, while I do so, shall live in a perpetual apprehension
that I shall _hear_ of his death as I did of that of my poor mother. I
consider the visit I contemplated making him our probable last season of
reunion, and cannot banish the thought that if it is indefinitely
postponed I may perhaps never see him again....

An intense interest is felt by all good Democrats in the coming
election, which determines whether Mr. Van Buren is to retain the
Presidency or not; and no zealous member of his party would leave the
country while that was undetermined. John writes me, too, that he
expects my father and sister both in London after Easter next year, and
I have no doubt it will be thought best that I should wait till then to
join them in England. However, all my plans must remain for the present
in utter uncertainty, and I shall surely not meet you and Emily at
Bannisters, which I could well have liked to do....

What lots of umbrellas you must wear out at Grasmere! [Miss S---- and
Miss W---- were passing the summer at the English lakes.] I am writing
pretty late at night, but if the Sedgwicks, whom you know, and those
who, through them, know you, were round me, I should have _showers_ of
love to send you from them: your rainy lake country suggested that
image, but that would be a _warm_ shower, which you don't get in
Westmoreland. I am growing very fat, but at the present there is no
fatty degeneracy of the heart, so that I still remain

                              Affectionately yours,
                                                                F. A. B.

                                LENOX, MASSACHUSETTS, August 28th, 1840.

I have always considered your writing to me a very unmerited kindness
towards one who had so little claim on your time and attention; and I
need not tell you how much this feeling is increased by your present
state of mind, and the effort I am sure it must be to you to remember
one so far off, in the midst of your great sorrow [for the death of her
daughter, Mrs. Sullivan].... I shall come alone to England; and this is
the more dismal, that I have it in prospect to go down to Naples to join
my father and sister, and stay with them till her engagements there and
at Palermo are ended. This journey (once my vision by day and dream by
night) will lose much of its delight by being a solitary pilgrimage to
the long-desired Italy. I think of pressing one of my brothers into my
service as escort; or if they are not able to go with me, shall write
to my father to come to England, as he lately sent me word he would do,
at any time that I would meet him there--of course, to return
immediately with him to my sister. They will both, I believe, be in
England after Easter next year; and then I shall hope to be allowed to
see you, my dear Lady Dacre, and express to you how much I have
sympathized with you in all you have suffered.

I am not aware of having spoken unjustly or disparagingly of the
dramatic profession. You say I am ungrateful to it: is it because I owe
many of my friends (yourself among the number) to it that you say so? or
do you think that I forget that circumstance? But to value it as an art,
simply for the personal advantages or pleasures that it was the means of
affording me, would be surely quite as absurd as to forget that it did
procure such for me. Then, upon reflection, few things have ever puzzled
me more than the fact of people liking _me_ because I pretended to be a
pack of Juliets and Belvideras, and creatures who were _not_ me. Perhaps
_I was jealous of my parts_; certainly, the good will my assumption of
them obtained for me, always seemed to me quite as curious as
flattering, or indeed rather more so. I did not think it an unbecoming
comment on my father's acting again at the Queen's request, when I said
that the excitement to which he had been habituated for so many years
had still charms for him; it would be very strange indeed if it had not.
It is chiefly from this point of view, and one or two others bearing on
the moral health, that I deprecate for those I love the exercise of that
profession; the claims of which to be considered as an art I cannot at
all determine satisfactorily in my own mind. That we have Shakespeare's
plays, written expressly for the interpretation of acting, is a strong
argument for the existence of a positive art of acting:
nevertheless----. But, if you please, we will settle that point when I
have the pleasure of seeing you. I suppose I shall steam for England in
October, when I shall endeavor to see you before I go abroad. Give my
kindest regards to Lord Dacre, and believe me always

                              Very affectionately yours,
                                                                F. A. B.

                                           _Lenox_, September 4th, 1840.
  _My dearest Harriet_,

... First of all, let me congratulate you, and dear Dorothy, upon her
improved health. Good as she is, I am sure she must value life; for
those who use it best, best know its infinite worth; and for you, my
dearest Harriet, this extension of the precious loan of her existence to
you, I am persuaded, must be full of the greatest blessings. Give my
affectionate love to her when you write to her or see her again; for,
indeed, I suppose you are now at Bannisters, where I should like well to
be with you, but I much fear that I shall not see you this winter,
though I expect to sail for England next month....

You ask me of the distance between the Virginia Springs and Lenox, and I
am ashamed to say I cannot answer; however, almost half the length of
the United States, I think. This, my northern place of summer sojourn,
is in the heart of the hill country of Massachusetts, in a district
inhabited chiefly by Sedgwicks, and their belongings....

Our friends the Sedgwicks reached their homes about a fortnight ago, and
the hills and valleys hereabouts rejoiced thereat.... Katharine's health
and spirits are much revived by the atmosphere of love by which she is
surrounded in her home. She bids me give her love to you. I wonder, with
your miserable self-distrust, whether you have any idea of the
affectionate regard all these people bear you. Katharine, a short time
before leaving Europe, saw in a shop a dark gray stuff which resembled a
dress you used to wear; she immediately bought it for herself, and
carrying it home asked her brother who it reminded him of. He instantly
kissed the stuff, exclaiming, "H---- S----!" Young Kate's journal
contains a most affectionate record of their short intimacy with you at
Wiesbaden; and you have left a deep impression on these hearts, where as
little that is bad or base abides as in any frail human hearts I ever

I have regained so much of my former appearance that I trust when I do
see you I shall not horrify you, as you seemed some time ago to
anticipate, by an apparition altogether unlike your, ever _essentially_
the same,

                                                                F. A. B.

                                        BUTLER PLACE, October 7th, 1840.

... Dearest Harriet, whatever may be the evils which may spring from the
amazing facilities of intercourse daily developing between distant
countries (and with so great good, how should there not be some evil?),
think of those whose lots are cast far from their early homes and
friends; think of the deathlike separation that going to America has
been to thousands who left England, and friends there, but a few years
ago; the uncertainty of intercourse by letter, the interminable
intervals of suspense, the impossibility of making known or understood
by hearts that yearned for such information the new and strange
circumstances of the exile's existence; the gradual dying out of
friendships, and cooling of warm regard, from the impossibility of
sufficient intercourse to keep interest alive; and sympathy, after
endeavoring in vain to picture the distant home and surroundings and
daily occupations of the absent friend, dwindling and withering away for
want of necessary aliment, in spite of all the efforts which imagination
could make to satisfy the affectionate desire and longing loving
inquiries of the heart. Think of all that those two _existences_ as you
call them (existences no more--but mere ideas), Time and Space, have
caused of misery and suspense and heart-wearing anxiety, and rejoice
that so much has been done to make parting less bitter, and absence
endurable, through hope that now amounts almost to certainty.

My own plans, which I thought so thoroughly settled a short time ago,
have again become extremely indefinite. It is now considered inexpedient
that I should travel on the Continent, though there is no objection to
my remaining in England until my father's return, which I understand is
expected soon after Easter. As, however, my motive in leaving America is
to be with my father and sister, I have no idea of going to London to
remain there three months, without any expectation of seeing them. This
consideration would incline me to put off my visit to England till the
spring, but it is not yet determined who, or whether any of us, will go
to Georgia for the winter. My being taken thither is entirely uncertain;
but should the contrary be decided upon, I might perhaps come to England
immediately, as I would rather pass the winter in London, among my
friends, if I am to spend it alone, than here, where the severe weather
suspends all out-of-door exercise, interests, and occupations, and
where the absolute solitude is a terrible trial to my nerves and

At present, however, I have not a notion what will be determined about
it, but as soon as I have any positive idea upon the subject I will let
you know.

We returned from Massachusetts a few days ago, and I find a profusion of
flowers and almost summer heat here, though the golden showers that
every now and then flicker from the trees, and the rustling sound of
fallen leaves, and the autumnal smell of mignonette, and other "fall"
flowers, whisper of the coming winter; still all here at present is
bright and sweet, with that peculiar combination of softness and
brilliancy which belongs to the autumn in this part of America. It is
the pleasantest season of the year here, and indescribably beautiful....

Good-bye, dearest Harriet; I had hoped to have joined you and Emily at
Bannisters, but that pretty plan is all rubbed out now, and I do not
know when I shall see you; but, thanks to those blessed beings--the
steam-ships, those Atlantic angels of speed and certainty, it now seems
as if I could do so "at any moment." God bless you.

                              Yours ever,
                                                                F. A. B.

                                             BUTLER PLACE, October 26th.

I beg you will not stop short, as in your last letter, received the day
before yesterday, dearest Harriet, with "but I will not overwhelm you
with questions:" it is particularly agreeable to me to have specific
questions to answer in the letters I receive from you, and I hope you
perceive that I do religiously reply to anything in the shape of a
query. It is pleasant to me to know upon what particular points of my
doing, being, and suffering you desire to be enlightened; because
although I know everything I write to you interests you, I like to be
able to satisfy even a few of those "I wonders" that are perpetually
rising up in our imaginations with respect to those we love and who are
absent from us.

You ask me if I ever write any journal, or anything else now. The time
that I passed in the South was so crowded with daily and hourly
occupations that, though I kept a regular journal, it was hastily
written, and received constant additional notes of things that
occurred, and that I wished to remember, inserted in a very irregular
fashion in it.... I think I should like to carry this journal down to
Georgia with me this winter; to revise, correct, and add whatever my
second experience might furnish to the chronicle. It has been suggested
to me that such an account of a Southern plantation might be worth
publishing; but I think such a publication would be a breach of
confidence, an advantage taken on my part of the situation of trust,
which I held on the estate. As my condemnation of the whole system is
unequivocal, and all my illustrations of its evils must be drawn from
our own plantation, I do not think I have a right to exhibit the
interior management and economy of that property to the world at large,
as a sample of Southern slavery, especially as I did not go thither with
any such purpose. This winter I think I shall mention my desire upon the
subject before going to the South, and of course any such publication
must then depend on the acquiescence of the owners of the estate. I am
sure that no book of mine on the subject could be of as much use to the
poor people on Butler's Island as my residence among them; and I should,
therefore, be very unwilling to do anything that was likely to interfere
with that: although I have sometimes been haunted with the idea that it
was an imperative duty, knowing what I know, and having seen what I have
seen, to do all that lies in my power to show the dangers and evils of
this frightful institution. And the testimony of a planter's wife, whose
experience has all been gathered from estates where the slaves are
universally admitted to be well treated, should carry with it some
authority. So I am occupying myself, from time to time, as my leisure
allows, in making a fair copy of my Georgia Journal.

I occasionally make very copious extracts from what I read, and also
write critical analyses of the books that please or displease me, in the
language--French or Italian--in which they are written; but these are
fragmentary, and do not, I think, entitle me to say that I am writing
anything. No one here is interested in anything that I write, and I have
too little serious habit of study, too little application, and too much
vanity and desire for the encouragement of praise, to achieve much in my
condition of absolute intellectual solitude....

Here are two of your questions answered; the third is--whether I let
the slave question rest more than I did? Oh yes; for I have come to the
conclusion that no words of mine could be powerful enough to dispel the
clouds of prejudice which early habits of thought, and the general
opinion of society upon this subject have gathered round the minds of
the people I live among. I do not know whether they ever think or read
about it, and my arguments, though founded in this case on pretty sound
reason, are apt to degenerate into passionate appeals, the violence of
which is not calculated to do much good in the way of producing
convictions in the minds of others....

Even if the property were mine, I could exercise no power over it; nor
could our children, after our death, do anything for those wretched
slaves, under the present laws of Georgia. All that any one could do,
would be to refrain from using the income derived from the estates, and
return it to the rightful owners--that is, the earners of it. Had I such
a property, I think I would put my slaves at once quietly upon the
footing of free laborers, paying them wages, and making them pay me rent
and take care of themselves. Of course I should be shot by my next
neighbor (against whom no verdict would be found except "Serve her
right!") in the first week of my experiment; but _if I wasn't_, I think,
reckoning only the meanest profit to be derived from the measure, I
should double the income of the estate in less than three years.... I am
more than ever satisfied that God and Mammon would be equally
propitiated by emancipation.

You ask me whether I take any interest in the Presidential election.
Yes, though I have not room left for my reasons--and I have some,
besides that best woman's reason, sympathy with the politics of the man
I belong to. The party coming into power are, I believe, at heart less
democratic than the other; and while the natural advantages of this
wonderful country remain unexhausted (and they are apparently
inexhaustible), I am sure the Republican Government is by far the best
for the people themselves, besides thinking it the best in the abstract,
as you know I do.

God bless you, my dearest Harriet.

                              I am ever yours most affectionately,
                                                                F. A. B.

    [The question of my spending the winter in Georgia was finally
    determined by Mr. J---- B---- 's decided opposition to my doing so.
    He was part proprietor of the plantation, and positively stipulated
    that I should not again be taken thither, considering my presence
    there as a mere source of distress to myself, annoyance to others,
    and danger to the property.

    I question the validity of the latter objection, but not at all that
    of the two first; and am sure that, upon the whole, his opposition
    to my residence among his slaves was not only justifiable but
    perfectly reasonable.

    My Georgia journal was not published until thirty years after it was
    written, during the civil war in the United States. I was then
    passing some time in England, and the people among whom I lived
    were, like most well-educated members of the upper classes of
    English society, Southern sympathizers. The ignorant and mischievous
    nonsense I was continually compelled to hear upon the subject of
    slavery in the seceding States determined me to publish my own
    observation of it--not, certainly, that I had in those latter years
    of my life any fallacious expectation of making converts on the
    subject, but that I felt constrained at that juncture to bear my
    testimony to the miserable nature and results of the system, of
    which so many of my countrymen and women were becoming the
    sentimental apologists.

    It being now settled that I was not to return to the plantation, my
    thoughts had hardly reverted to the prospect of a winter in England
    when I received the news of my father's return from the Continent,
    and dangerous illness in London; so that, I was told, unless I could
    go to him immediately, there was but little probability of my ever
    seeing him again. The misfortune I had so often anticipated now
    seemed to have overtaken me, and instant preparation for my leaving
    America being made, and an elderly lady, with whom I had become
    connected by my marriage, having exerted her influence in my behalf,
    I was not allowed, under such painful circumstances, again to cross
    the Atlantic alone, but returned with a very heavy heart to my own
    country, but with the comfort of being accompanied by my whole

    The news that met me on my arrival was that my father was at the
    point of death, that he would not probably survive twenty-four
    hours, and that it was altogether inexpedient that he should see
    me, as, if he recognized me, which was doubtful, my unexpected
    appearance, it having been impossible to prepare him for it, might
    only be the means of causing him a violent and perhaps painful shock
    of nervous agitation. This terrible verdict, pronounced by three of
    the most eminent medical men of the day, Bright, Liston, and Wilson,
    was a dreadful close to all the anxious days and hours of the sea
    voyage, during which I had hoped and prayed to be again permitted to
    embrace my father. But in my deep distress, I could not help
    remembering that, after all, his physicians, able as they were, had
    not the keys of life and death. And so it proved: my father made an
    almost miraculous rally, recovered, and survived the sentence
    pronounced against him for many years.

    Not many days after our arrival, his improved condition admitted of
    his being told of my return, and allowed to see me. Cadaverous is
    the only word that describes the appearance to which acute suffering
    and subsequent prostration had reduced him; he looked, indeed, like
    one returned from the dead, and, in his joy at seeing me again,
    declared that I had restored him to life, and that my arrival,
    though he had not known of it, had called him back to existence--a
    sympathetic theory of convalescence, to which I do not think his
    doctors gave in their adhesion.

    We now took up our abode in London; first at the Clarendon Hotel,
    and afterwards in Clarges Street, Piccadilly, where my father, as
    soon as he could be moved, came to reside with us, and where my
    sister joined us on her return from Italy. My friend Miss S----,
    coming from Ireland to stay with me soon after my arrival in
    England, added to my happiness in finding myself once more with my
    own family, and in my own country.]

                                             CLARGES STREET, March 21st.

You will, ere this, dearest H----, have received my answer to your first
letter. You ask me, in your second, what we think about the chances of a
war with America. Our wishes prompt us to the belief that a war between
the two countries is _impossible_, though the tone of the newspapers,
within the last few days, has been horribly pugnacious. A letter was
received the day before yesterday, from our Liverpool factor, asking us
what is to be done about some cotton which had just come to them from
the plantation, in the event of war breaking out: a supposition which he
had treated as an utter impossibility when he was last in London, but
which he confessed in this letter did not seem to him quite so
impossible now. I do not, for my own part, see very well how either
party is to get out of its present attitude towards the other peaceably
and, at the same time, without some compromise of dignity. But I pray
God that the hearts of the two nations may be inclined to peace, and
then, doubtless, some cunning device will be found to save their
_honor_. The virtuous "_if_" of Touchstone is, I am afraid, not as valid
in national as individual quarrels.

Tell Mr. H---- W----, with my love, that it is all a hoax about Niagara
Falls having _fallen_ down; and that they are still _falling_ down,
according to their custom; but if you should find this intelligence
affect him with too painful a disappointment, you may comfort him by
assuring him that they inevitably must and will fall down one of these
days, and, what is more, stay fallen, and precisely in the manner they
are now said to have begun their career--by the gradual wearing away of
the rock between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.

We were at the opera the Saturday after you left us; but it was a
mediocre performance, both music and dancing, and gave me but little
pleasure. I went last night again with my father, and was enchanted with
the opera, which was an old favorite, "Tancredi," in which I heard
Persiani, an admirable artist, with a mere golden wire of voice, of
which she made most capital use, and Pauline Garcia, who possesses all
the genius of her family; and between them it was a perfect performance.
The latter is a sister of Malibran's, and will certainly be one of the
finest dramatic singers of these times. But the proximity of people to
me in the stalls is so intolerable that I think I shall give mine up;
for I am in a state of nervous _crawling_ the whole time, with being
pushed and pressed and squeezed and leaned on and breathed on by my
fellow-creatures. You remember my old theory, that we are all of us
surrounded by an atmosphere proper to ourselves, emanating from each of
us,--a separate, sensitive envelope, extending some little distance from
our visible persons. I am persuaded that this is the case, and that when
my _individual atmosphere_ is invaded by any one, it affects my whole
nervous system. The proximity of any _bodies_ but those I love best is
unendurable to my body.

My father is much in the same condition as when you went away, suffering
a great deal, and complaining frequently; but by his desire we have a
dinner-party here on Tuesday, and he has accepted two invitations to
dine out himself. My chicks are pretty well....

May God bless you, dear.

                              I am ever your own
                                                                F. A. B.

                                                         CLARGES STREET.

This letter was begun three days ago, and it is now Thursday, March the
25th. Do not, I beseech you, ever make any appeals to my imagination, or
my feelings. I have lost all I ever had of the first, and I never had
any at all of the second....

You ask me if I have been riding. Only once or twice, for I may not do
what I so fain would, give all the visiting to utter neglect, and ride
every day. Yesterday I was on horseback for two hours with Henry, who,
having sold his pretty mare, for £65, to the author of the new comedy at
Covent Garden, was obliged to bestride one of Mr. Allen's screws, as he
calls them. The day was dusty and windy, and very disagreeable, but I
was all the better for my shaking, as I always am. I am never in health,
looks, or spirits without daily hard exercise on horseback.

My first meeting with Mrs. Grote (I am answering your questions, dearest
H----, though you have probably forgotten them) took place after all at
Sydney Smith's, at a dinner the very next day after you left us. We did
not say a great deal to each other, but upon my saying incidentally (I
forget about what) "I, who have always preserved my liberty, at least
the small crumb of it that a woman can own anywhere," she faced about,
in a most emphatical manner, and said, "Then you've struggled for it."
"No, I have not been obliged to do so." "Ah, then you must, or you'll
lose it, you'll lose it, depend upon it." I smiled, but did not reply,
because I saw that she was not taking into consideration the fact of my
living in America; and this was the only truly _Grotesque_ (as Sydney
Smith says) passage between us. Since then we have again ineffectually
exchanged cards, and yesterday I received an invitation to her house, so
that I suppose we shall finally become acquainted with each other.

    [Mrs. Grote, wife of George Grote, the banker, member of
    Parliament, and historian of Greece, was one of the cleverest and
    most eccentric women in the London society of my time. No worse a
    judge than De Tocqueville pronounced her the cleverest woman of his
    acquaintance; and she was certainly a very remarkable member of the
    circle of remarkable men among whom she was living when I first knew
    her. At that time she was the female centre of the Radical party in
    politics--a sort of not-young-or-handsome feminine oracle among a
    set of very clever half-heathenish men, in whose drawing-room,
    Sydney Smith used to say, he always expected to find an altar to
    Zeus. At this time Mr. Grote was in the House of Commons, and as it
    was before the publication of his admirable history, his speeches,
    which were as remarkable for their sound sense and enlightened
    liberality as for their clear and forcible style, were not
    unfrequently attributed to his wife, whose considerable
    conversational powers, joined to a rather dictatorial style of
    exercising them, sometimes threw her refined and modest husband a
    little into the shade in general society. When first I made Mrs.
    Grote's acquaintance, the persons one most frequently met at her
    house in Eccleston Street were Roebuck, Leader, Byron's quondam
    associate Trelawney, and Sir William Molesworth; both the first and
    last mentioned gentlemen were then of an infinitely deeper shade of
    radicalism in their politics than they subsequently became. The
    other principal element of Mrs. Grote's society, at this time,
    consisted of musical composers and performers, who found in her a
    cordial and hospitable friend and hostess, and an amateur of unusual
    knowledge and discrimination, as well as much taste and feeling for
    their beautiful art. Her love of music, and courteous reception of
    all foreign artists, caused her to be generally sought by eminent
    professors coming to England; and Liszt, Madame Viardot, Dessauer,
    Thalberg, Mademoiselle Lind, and Mendelssohn were among the
    celebrated musicians one frequently met at her house. With the two
    latter she was very intimate, and it was in her drawing-room that my
    sister gave her first public concert in London. Mendelssohn used
    often to visit her at a small country-place she had in the
    neighborhood of Burnham Beeches.

    It was a very small and modest residence, situated on the verge of
    the magnificent tract of woodland scenery known by that name; a
    dependence, I believe, of the Dropmore estate, which it adjoined. It
    was an unenclosed space of considerable extent, of wild, heathy
    moorland; short turfy strips of common; dingles full of foxglove,
    harebell, and gnarled old stunted hawthorn bushes; and knolls,
    covered with waving crests of powerful feathery fern. It was
    intersected with gravelly paths and roads, whose warm color
    contrasted and harmonized with the woodland hues of everything about
    them; and roofed in by dark green vaults of the most magnificent
    beech foliage I have ever seen anywhere. The trees were of great age
    and enormous size; and from some accidental influence affecting
    their growth, the huge trunks were many of them contorted so as to
    resemble absolutely the twisted Saxon pillars of some old cathedral.
    In many of them the powerful branches (as large themselves as trunks
    of common trees) spread out from the main tree, at a height of about
    six feet from the ground, into a sort of capacious leafy chamber,
    where eight or ten people could have sat embowered. A more perfectly
    English woodland scene it would be impossible to imagine, and here,
    as Mrs. Grote told me, Mendelssohn found the inspiration of much of
    the music of his "Midsummer Night's Dream." (The overture he had
    composed, and played to us one evening at my father's house, when
    first he came to England, before he was one-and-twenty.) At one time
    Mrs. Grote contemplated erecting some monument in the beautiful wood
    to his memory, and showed me a copy of verses, not devoid of merit,
    which she thought of inscribing on it to his honor; but she never
    carried out the suggestion of her affectionate admiration; and to
    those who knew and loved Mendelssohn (alas! the expressions are
    synonymous), the glorious wood itself, where he walked and mused and
    held converse with the spirit of Shakespeare, forms a solemn sylvan
    temple, forever consecrated to tender memories of his bright genius
    and lovely character.

    When first I knew Mrs. Grote, however, her artistic sympathies were
    keenly excited in a very different direction; for she had
    undertaken, under some singular impulse of mistaken enthusiasm, to
    make what she called "an honest woman" of the celebrated dancer,
    Fanny Ellsler, and to introduce her into London society,--neither of
    them very attainable results, even for as valiant and enterprising
    a person as Mrs. Grote. When first I heard of this strange
    undertaking I was, in common with most of her friends, much
    surprised at it; nor was it until some years after the entire
    failure of this quixotic experiment, that I became aware that she
    had been actuated by any motive but the kindliest and most mistaken

    Mademoiselle Ellsler was at this time at the height of her great and
    deserved popularity as a dancer, and whatever I may have thought of
    the expediency or possibility of making what Mrs. Grote called "an
    honest woman" of her, I was among the most enthusiastic admirers of
    her great excellence in her elegant art. She was the only
    intellectual dancer I have ever seen. Inferior to Taglioni (that
    embodied genius of rhythmical motion) in lightness, grace, and
    sentiment; to Carlotta Grisi in the two latter qualities; and with
    less mere vigor and elasticity than Cerito, she excelled them all in
    dramatic expression; and parts of her performance in the ballets of
    the "Tarantella" and the wild legend of "Gisele, the Willye,"
    exhibited tragic power of a very high order, while the same strongly
    dramatic element was the cause of her pre-eminence in all national
    and characteristic dances, such as El Jaleo de Xeres, the
    Cracovienne, et cetera. This predominance of the intellectual
    element in her dancing may have been the result of original
    organization, or it may have been owing to the mental training which
    Ellsler received from Frederic von Genz, Gensius, the German writer
    and diplomatist, who educated her, and whose mistress she became
    while still quite a young girl. However that may be, Mrs. Grote
    always maintained that her genius lay full as much in her head as in
    her heels. I am not sure that the finest performance of hers that I
    ever witnessed was not a minuet in which she danced the man's part,
    in full court-suit of the time of Louis XVI., with most admirable
    grace and nobility of demeanor.

    Mrs. Grote labored hard to procure her acceptance in society; her
    personal kindness to her was of the most generous description: but
    her great object of making "an honest woman" of her, I believe
    failed signally in every way.

    On one occasion I paid Mrs. Grote a visit at Burnham Beeches. Our
    party consisted only of my sister and myself; the Viennese composer,
    Dessauer; and Chorley, the musical critic of the _Athenæum_, who
    was very intimately acquainted with us all. The eccentricities of
    our hostess, with which some of us were already tolerably familiar,
    were a source of unfeigned amazement and awe to Dessauer, who,
    himself the most curious, quaint, and withal nervously excitable and
    irritable humorist, was thrown into alternate convulsions of
    laughter and spasms of terror at the portentous female figure, who,
    with a stick in her hand, a man's hat on her head, and a coachman's
    box-coat of drab cloth with manifold capes over her petticoats
    (English women had not yet then adopted a costume undistinguishable
    from that of the other sex), stalked about the house and grounds,
    alternately superintending various matters of the domestic economy,
    and discussing, with equal knowledge and discrimination, questions
    of musical criticism and taste.

    One most ludicrous scene which took place on this occasion I shall
    never forget. She had left us to our own devices, and we were all in
    the garden. I was sitting in a swing, and my sister, Dessauer, and
    Chorley were lying on the lawn at my feet, when presently, striding
    towards us, appeared the extravagant figure of Mrs. Grote, who, as
    soon as she was within speaking-trumpet distance, hailed us with a
    stentorian challenge about some detail of dinner--I think it was
    whether the majority voted for bacon and peas or bacon and beans.
    Having duly settled this momentous question, as Mrs. Grote turned
    and marched away, Dessauer--who had been sitting straight up,
    listening with his head first on one side and then on the other,
    like an eagerly intelligent terrier, taking no part in the culinary
    controversy (indeed, his entire ignorance of English necessarily
    disqualified him for even comprehending it), but staring intently,
    with open eyes and mouth, at Mrs. Grote--suddenly began, with his
    hands and lips, to imitate the rolling of a drum, and then broke out
    aloud with, "_Malbrook s'en vat' en guerre_," etc.; whereupon the
    terrible lady faced right about, like a soldier, and, planting her
    stick in the ground, surveyed Dessauer with an awful countenance.
    The wretched little man grew red and then purple, and then black in
    the face with fear and shame; and exclaiming in his agony, "_Ah,
    bonté divine! elle m'a compris!_" rolled over and over on the lawn
    as if he had a fit. Mrs. Grote majestically waved her hand, and with
    magnanimous disdain of her small adversary turned and departed, and
    we remained horror-stricken at the effect of this involuntary
    tribute of Dessauer's to her martial air and deportment.

    When she returned, however, it was to enter into a most interesting
    and animated discussion upon the subject of Glück's music; and
    suddenly, some piece from the "Iphigenia" being mentioned, she
    shouted for her man-servant, to whom on his appearance she gave
    orders to bring her a chair and footstool, and "the big fiddle" (the
    violoncello) out of the hall; and taking it forthwith between her
    knees, proceeded to play, with excellent taste and expression, some
    of Glück's noble music upon the sonorous instrument, with which St.
    Cecilia is the only female I ever saw on terms of such familiar

    The second time Mrs. Grote invited me to the Beeches, it was to meet
    Mdlle. Ellsler. A conversation I had with my admirable and excellent
    friend Sydney Smith determined me to decline joining the party. He
    wound up his kind and friendly advice to me upon the subject by
    saying, "No, no, my child; that's all very well for Grota" (the name
    he always gave Mrs. Grote, whose good qualities and abilities he
    esteemed very highly, whatever he may have thought of her
    eccentricities); "but don't mix yourself up with that sort of
    thing." And I had reason to rejoice that I followed his good advice.
    Mrs. Grote told me, in the course of a conversation we once had on
    the subject of Mdlle. Ellsler, that when the latter went to America,
    she, Mrs. Grote, had undertaken most generously the entire care and
    charge of her child, a lovely little girl of about six years old.
    "All I said to her," said this strange, kind-hearted woman, "was
    'Well, Fanny, send the brat to me; I don't ask you whose child it
    is, and I don't care, so long as it isn't that fool d'Orsay's'"
    (Mrs. Grote had small esteem for _the_ dandy of his day), "'and I'll
    take the best care of it I can.'" And she did take the kindest care
    of it during the whole period of Mdlle. Ellsler's absence from

    The next time I visited the Beeches was after an interval of some
    years, when I went thither with my kind and constant friend Mr.
    Rogers. My circumstances had altered very painfully, and I was again
    laboring for my own support.

    I went down to Burnham with the old poet, and was sorry to find
    that, though he had consented to pay Mrs. Grote this visit, he was
    not in particularly harmonious tune for her society, which was
    always rather a trial to his fastidious nerves and refined taste.
    The drive of between three and four miles in a fly (very different
    from his own luxurious carriage), through intricate lanes and rural
    winding avenues, did not tend to soften his acerbities, and I
    perceived at once, on alighting from the carriage, that the aspect
    of the place did not find favor in his eyes.

    Mrs. Grote had just put up an addition to her house, a sort of
    single wing, which added a good-sized drawing-room to the modest
    mansion I had before visited. Whatever accession of comfort the
    house received within from this addition to its size, its beauty,
    externally, was not improved by it, and Mr. Rogers stood before the
    offending edifice, surveying it with a sardonic sneer that I should
    think even brick and mortar must have found it hard to bear. He had
    hardly uttered his three first disparaging bitter sentences, of
    utter scorn and abhorrence of the architectural abortion, which,
    indeed it was, when Mrs. Grote herself made her appearance in her
    usual country costume, box-coat, hat on her head, and stick in her
    hand. Mr. Rogers turned to her with a verjuice smile, and said, "I
    was just remarking that in whatever part of the world I had seen
    this building I should have guessed to whose taste I might attribute
    its erection." To which, without an instant's hesitation, she
    replied, "Ah, _'tis_ a beastly thing, to be sure. The confounded
    workmen played the devil with the place while I was away." Then,
    without any more words, she led the way to the interior of her
    habitation, and I could not but wonder whether her blunt
    straightforwardness did not disconcert and rebuke Mr. Rogers for his
    treacherous sneer.

    During this visit, much interesting conversation passed with
    reference to the letters of Sydney Smith, who was just dead; and the
    propriety of publishing all his correspondence, which, of course,
    contained strictures and remarks upon people with whom he had been
    living in habits of friendly social intimacy. I remember one morning
    a particularly lively discussion on the subject, between Mrs. Grote
    and Mr. Rogers. The former had a great many letters from Sydney
    Smith, and urged the impossibility of publishing them, with all
    their comments on members of the London world. Rogers, on the
    contrary, apparently delighted at the idea of the mischief such
    revelations would make, urged Mrs. Grote to give them ungarbled to
    the press. "Oh, but now," said the latter, "here, for instance, Mr.
    Rogers, such a letter as this, about ----; do see how he cuts up the
    poor fellow. It really never would do to publish it." Rogers took
    the letter from her, and read it with a stony grin of diabolical
    delight on his countenance and occasional chuckling exclamations of
    "Publish it! publish it! Put an R, dash, or an R and four stars for
    the name. He'll never know it, though everybody else will." While
    Mr. Rogers was thus delecting himself, in anticipation, with R----'s
    execution, Mrs. Grote, by whose side I was sitting on a low stool,
    quietly unfolded another letter of Sydney Smith's, and silently held
    it before my eyes, and the very first words in it were a most
    ludicrous allusion to Rogers's cadaverous appearance. As I raised my
    eyes from this most absurd description of him, and saw him still
    absorbed in his evil delight, the whole struck me as so like a scene
    in a farce that I could not refrain from bursting out laughing.

    In talking of Sydney Smith Mr. Rogers gave us many amusing details
    of various visits he paid him at his place in Somersetshire, Combe
    Flory, where, on one occasion, Jeffrey was also one of the party. It
    was to do honor to these illustrious guests that Sydney Smith had a
    pair of horns fastened on his donkey, who was turned into the
    paddock so adorned, in order, as he said, to give the place a more
    noble and park-like appearance; and it was on this same donkey that
    Jeffrey mounted when Sydney Smith exclaimed with such glee--

        "As short, but not as stout, as Bacchus,
        As witty as Horatius Flacchus,
        As great a radical as Gracchus,
        There he goes riding on my _jackuss_."

    Rogers told us too, with great satisfaction, an anecdote of Sydney
    Smith's son, known in London society by the amiable nickname of the
    Assassin.... This gentleman, being rather addicted to horse-racing
    and the undesirable society of riders, trainers, jockeys, and
    semi-turf black-legs, meeting a friend of his father's on his
    arrival at Combe Flory, the visitor said, "So you have got Rogers
    here, I find." "Oh, yes," replied Sydney Smith's dissimilar son,
    with a rueful countenance, "but it isn't _the_ Rogers, you know."
    _The_ Rogers, according to him, being a famous horse-trainer and
    rider of that name.

    I have called him his father's dissimilar son, but feel inclined to
    withdraw that epithet, when I recollect his endeavor to find an
    appropriate subject of conversation for the Archbishop of York, by
    whom, on one occasion, he found himself seated at dinner: "Pray, my
    lord, how long do you think it took Nebuchadnezzar to get into
    condition again after his turn out at grass?"

    The third time I went to Burnham Beeches, it was to meet a very
    clever Piedmontese gentleman, with whom Mr. Grote had become
    intimate, Mr. Senior, known and valued for his ability as a
    political economist, his clear and acute intelligence, his general
    information and agreeable powers of conversation. His universal
    acquaintance with all political and statistical details, and the
    whole contemporaneous history of European events, and the readiness
    and fulness of his information on all matters of interest connected
    with public affairs used to make Mrs. Grote call him her "man of
    facts." The other member of our small party was Charles Greville,
    whose acquaintance Mrs. Grote had made through his intimacy with my
    sister and myself. This gentleman was one of the most agreeable
    members of our intimate society. His mother was the sister of the
    late Duke of Portland, and during the short administration of his
    uncle, Charles Greville, then quite a young man, had a sinecure
    office in the island of Jamaica bestowed upon him, and was made
    Clerk of the Privy Council; which appointment, by giving him an
    assured position and handsome income for life, effectually put a
    stop to his real advancement at the very outset, by rendering all
    effort of ambition on his part unnecessary, and inducing him,
    instead of distinguishing himself by an honorable public career, to
    adopt the life and pursuits of a mere man of pleasure, ... and to
    waste his talents in the petty intrigues of society, and the
    excitements of the turf. He was an influential member of the London
    great world of his day; his clear good sense, excellent judgment,
    knowledge of the world, and science of expediency, combined with his
    good temper and ready friendliness, made him a sort of universal
    referee in the society to which he belonged. Men consulted him about
    their difficulties with men; and women, about their squabbles with
    women; and men and women, about their troubles with the opposite
    sex. He was called into the confidence of all manner of people, and
    trusted with the adjustment of all sorts of affairs. He knew the
    secrets of everybody, which everybody seemed willing that he should
    know; and he was one of the principal lawgivers of the turf. The
    publication of Charles Greville's Memoirs, which shocked the whole
    of London society, surprised, as much as it grieved, his friends,
    the character they revealed being painfully at variance with their
    impression of him, and not a little, in some respects, at variance
    with that of a gentleman.... Our small party at the Beeches was
    broken up on the occasion of this, my third visit, by our hostess's
    indisposition. She was seized with a violent attack of neuralgia in
    the head, to which she was subject, and by which she was compelled
    to take to her bed, and remain there in darkness and almost
    intolerable suffering for hours, and sometimes days together. I have
    known her prostrated by a paroxysm of this sort when she had invited
    a large party to dinner, and obliged to leave her husband to do the
    honors to their guests, while she betook herself to solitary
    confinement in a darkened room.

    On the present occasion the gentlemen guests took their departure
    for London, and I should have done the same, but that Mrs. Grote
    entreated me to remain, for the chance of her being soon rid of her
    torment. Towards the middle of the day she begged me to come to her
    room, when, feeling, I presume, some temporary relief, she presently
    began talking vehemently to me about a French opera of "The
    Tempest," by Halévy, I believe, which had just been produced in
    Paris, with Madame Rossi Sontag as Miranda, and Lablache as Caliban.
    Mrs. Grote was violent in her abuse of the composition, deploring,
    as I joined her in doing, that Mendelssohn should not have taken
    "The Tempest" for the subject of an opera, and so prevented less
    worthy composers from laying hands upon it.

    Towards this time Mrs. Grote became absorbed by a passionate
    enthusiasm for Mademoiselle Jenny Lind, of whom she was an
    idolatrous worshipper, and who frequently spent her days of leisure
    at the Beeches. Mrs. Grote engrossed Mademoiselle Jenny Lind in so
    curious a manner that, socially, the accomplished singer could
    hardly be approached but through her. She was kind enough to ask me
    twice to meet her, when Mendelssohn and herself were together at
    Burnham--an offer of a rare pleasure, of which I was unable to avail
    myself. I remember, about this time, a comical conversation I had
    with her, in which, after surveying and defining her social position
    and its various advantages, she exclaimed, "But I want some lords,
    Fanny. Can't you help me to some lords?" I told her, laughingly,
    that I thought the lady who held watch and ward over Mademoiselle
    Jenny Lind might have as many lords at her feet as she pleased....

    Besides her literary and artistic tastes, she took a keen interest
    in politics, and among other causes for the slight esteem in which
    she not unnaturally held my intellectual capacity was my ignorance
    of, and indifference to, anything connected with party politics,
    especially as discussed in coteries and by coterie queens.

    Great questions of European policy, and the important movements of
    foreign governments, or our own, in matters tending to affect the
    general welfare and progress of humanity, had a profound interest
    for me; but I talked so little on such subjects, as became the
    profundity of my ignorance, that Mrs. Grote supposed them altogether
    above my sympathy, and probably above my comprehension.

    I remember very well, one evening at her own house, I was working at
    some embroidery (I never saw her with that feminine implement, a
    needle, in her fingers, and have a notion she despised those who
    employed it, and the results they achieved), and I was listening
    with perfect satisfaction to an able and animated discussion between
    Mr. Grote, Charles Greville, Mr. Senior, and a very intelligent
    Piedmontese then staying at the Beeches, on the aspect of European
    politics, and more especially of Italian affairs, when Mrs. Grote,
    evidently thinking the subject too much for me, drew her chair up to
    mine, and began a condescending conversation about matters which she
    probably judged more on a level with my comprehension; for she
    seemed both relieved and surprised when I stopped her kind effort to
    entertain me at once, thanking her, and assuring her that I was
    enjoying extremely what I was listening to.

    Some time after this, however, I must say I took a mischievous
    opportunity of purposely confirming her poor opinion of my brains;
    for on her return from Paris, where she had been during Louis
    Napoleon's _coup d'état_, she offered to show me Mr. Senior's
    journal, kept there at the same time, and recording all the
    remarkable and striking incidents of that exciting period of French
    affairs. This was a temptation, but it was a greater one to
    me--being, as Madame de Sévigné says of herself, _méchante ma
    fille_--to make fun of Mrs. Grote; and so, comforting myself with
    thinking that this probably highly interesting and instructive
    record, kept by Mr. Senior, would be sure to be published, and was
    then in manuscript (a thing which I abhor), I quietly declined the
    offer, looking as like Audrey when she asks "What is poetical?" as I
    could: to which Mrs. Grote, with an indescribable look, accent, and
    gesture of good-humored contempt, replied, "Ah, well, it might not
    interest you; I dare say it wouldn't. It _is_ political, to be sure;
    it is political."

    This is the second very clever woman, to whom I know my intelligence
    had been vaunted, to whom I turned out completely "Paradise Lost,"
    as my mother's comical old acquaintance, Lady Dashwood King, used to
    say to Adelaide of me: "Ah, yes, I know your sister is vastly
    clever, exceedingly intelligent, and all that kind of thing, but she
    is 'Paradise Lost' to me, my dear." I sometimes regretted having
    hidden my small light under a bushel as entirely as I did, in the
    little intercourse I had with the first Lady Ashburton, Lady Harriet
    Montague, with whom some of my friends desired that I should become
    acquainted, and who asked me to her house in London, and to the
    Grange, having been assured that there was something in me, and
    trying to find it out, without ever succeeding.

    Mrs. Grote had generally a very contemptuous regard for the capacity
    of her female friends. She was extremely fond of my sister, but
    certainly had not the remotest appreciation of her great cleverness;
    and on one occasion betrayed the most whimsical surprise when
    Adelaide mentioned having received a letter from the great German
    scholar Waelcker. "Who? what? you? Waelcker, write to you!"
    exclaimed Grota, in amazement more apparent than courteous, it
    evidently being beyond the wildest stretch of her imagination that
    one of the most learned men in Europe, and profoundest scholars of
    Germany, could be a correspondent of my sister's, and a devoted
    admirer of her brilliant intelligence.

    Mrs. Grote's appearance was extremely singular; "striking" is, I
    think, the most appropriate word for it. She was very tall,
    square-built, and high-shouldered; her hands and arms, feet and legs
    (the latter she was by no means averse to displaying) were
    uncommonly handsome and well made. Her face was rather that of a
    clever man than a woman, and I used to think there was some
    resemblance between herself and our piratical friend Trelawney.

    Her familiar style of language among her intimates was something
    that could only be believed by those who heard it; it was technical
    to a degree that was amazing. I remember, at a dinner-party at her
    own table, her speaking of Audubon's work on ornithology, and saying
    that some of the incidents of his personal adventures, in the
    pursuit of his favorite science, had pleased her particularly;
    instancing, among other anecdotes, an occasion on which, as she
    said, "he was almost starving in the woods, you know, and found some
    kind of wild creature, which he immediately disembowelled and
    devoured." This, at dinner, at her own table, before a large party,
    was rather forcible. But little usual as her modes of expression
    were, she never seemed to be in the slightest degree aware of the
    startling effect they produced; she uttered them with the most
    straightforward unconsciousness and unconcern. Her taste in dress
    was, as might have been expected, slightly eccentric, but, for a
    person with so great a perception of harmony of sound, her passion
    for discordant colors was singular. The first time I ever saw her
    she was dressed in a bright brimstone-colored silk gown, made so
    short as to show her feet and ankles, having on her head a white
    satin hat, with a forest of white feathers; and I remember her
    standing, with her feet wide apart and her arms akimbo, in this
    costume before me, and challenging me upon some political question,
    by which, and her appearance, I was much astonished and a little
    frightened. One evening she came to my sister's house dressed
    entirely in black, but with scarlet shoes on, with which I suppose
    she was particularly pleased, for she lay on a sofa with her feet
    higher than her head, American fashion, the better to display or
    contemplate them. I remember, at a party, being seated by Sydney
    Smith, when Mrs. Grote entered with a rose-colored turban on her
    head, at which he suddenly exclaimed, "Now I know the meaning of the
    word grotesque!" The mischievous wit professed his cordial liking
    for both her and her husband, saying, "I like them, I like them; I
    like him, he is so ladylike; and I like her, she's such a perfect
    gentleman;" in which, however, he had been forestalled by a person
    who certainly _n'y entendait pas malice_, Mrs. Chorley, the meekest
    and gentlest of human beings, who one evening, at a party at her
    son's house, said to him, pointing out Mrs. Grote, who was dressed
    in white, "Henry, my dear, who is the gentleman in the white muslin

You ask me, dear H----, about Lady Francis's visit. She did not come, as
she had proposed doing, on the Friday, for she caught the influenza, and
was extremely unwell for a few days; she was here on Monday, coughing
incessantly and looking ill. In the course of our conversation, she
exclaimed, "Education! bless me, I think of nothing else but the
education of the poor. Don't you find people have got to think and talk
about nothing else? I protest, I don't." This made me laugh, and you
will understand why; but she didn't, and pressed me very much to tell
her what there was absurd in the matter to me: but I declined answering
her, at least then and there, as I could not enter into a full
discussion of the subject, down to the roots of it, just at that moment.
But, as you will well comprehend, the circumstances that render this
feverish zeal for education comical, in some of its fine-lady advocates,
are peculiarly strong in her case, though she is in earnest enough, and
thoroughly well-intentioned in whatever she does. Unwittingly, they are
serving the poor, as they certainly do not contemplate doing; for by
educating them, even as they are likely to do so, they will gradually
prepare them, intelligently and therefore irresistibly, to demand such
changes in their political and social conditions as they may now
impotently desire, and will assuredly hereafter obtain; but not, I
think, with the entirely cordial acquiescence of their Tory educators.

We went to the opera the Saturday after you left us, but both the opera
and the ballet were indifferent performances.... Do you not know that to
misunderstand and be misunderstood is one of the inevitable conditions,
and, I think, one of the especial purposes, of our existence? The
principal use of the affection of human beings for each other is to
supply the want of perfect comprehension, which is impossible. All the
faith and love which we possess are barely sufficient to bridge over
the abyss of individualism which separates one human being from another;
and they would not or could not exist, if we really understood each
other. God bless you, dear.

                              Yours ever,

                                       CLARGES STREET, March 28th, 1841.
  DEAREST H----,

My Sunday's avocations being over, or rather----

Here a loud, double knock, and Emily's entrance cut short my sentence;
and now that she is gone, it is close upon time to dress for dinner. She
bids me tell you that I am going to-morrow to sit to the sun for my
picture for you. I cannot easily conceive how you should desire a
daguerreotype of me; you certainly have never seen one, or you would not
do so; as it is, I think you will receive a severe shock from the real
representation of the face you love so well and know so little....

Emily and I went with the children to the Zoological Gardens the other
day, where a fine, intelligent-looking lioness appeared exceedingly
struck with them, crouched, and made a spring at little Fan, which made
Anne scream, and Emily, and Amelia Twiss, who was with us, catch hold of
the child. The keeper assured us it was only play; but I was well
pleased, nevertheless, that there was a grating between that very large
cat and the little white mouse of a plaything she contemplated.

I have no news to give you, dear H----. A list of our dinner and evening
engagements would be interminable, and not very profitable stuff for

I breakfasted with Mr. Rogers the other morning, and met Lord Normanby,
to whom I preferred a request that he would procure for Henry an
unattached company, by which he would obtain a captain's rank and
half-pay, and escape being sent to Canada, or, indeed, out of England at
all--which, in my father's present condition of health, is very

We hear of my sister's great success in Italy, in "Norma," from sources
which can leave us no doubt of it....

Good-bye, dearest H----. Here is a list of my immediately impending
_occupations_--Monday, Emily spends the evening with me, till I go to a
party at Miss Rogers's; Tuesday, we go to the opera; Wednesday, we dine
with the M----s, and go in the evening to Mrs. Grote's; Thursday,
dinner at Mrs. Norton's; Friday, dine with Mrs. C----, who has a ball in
the evening; Saturday, the opera again: and so, pray don't say I am
wasting my time, or neglecting my opportunities.

                              Yours ever,

                                    CLARGES STREET, Thursday, April 2nd.
  DEAREST H----,

I wrote to you yesterday, but have half an hour of leisure, and will
begin another letter to you now. If it suffers interruption, I shall at
any rate have made a start, and the end will come in time, doubtless, if
Heaven pleases....

My father is much in the same condition as when last I wrote to you....
You ask if he does not begin to count the days till Adelaide's return
[my sister was daily expected from Italy, where she had just finished
engagements at the Fenice, the San Carlo, and the Scala]: he speaks of
that event occasionally, with fervent hope and expectation; but he is
seldom roused by anything from the state of suffering self-absorption in
which he lives for the most part....

I forget whether we have heard from Adelaide herself since you left us;
but my father had a letter the other day from C----, who sent him a
detailed account of her success in "Norma," which by all accounts has
indeed been very great.

One of C----'s proofs of it amused me not a little. He said that one
night, when she was singing it, although some of the royal family were
in their box and appeared about to applaud, the people could not
restrain their acclamations, but broke out into vociferous bravos,
contrary to etiquette on such occasions, when it is usual for royalty to
give the signal to public enthusiasm.

Doubtless this was a very great proof of her power over her
fellow-creatures, and of the irresistible human sympathies which are
occasionally, even in such an atmosphere as that of a Neapolitan
theatre, with Bourbon royalty present, stronger than social

You ask if the new comedy ("London Assurance") is sufficiently
successful to warrant the author's purchase of Henry's horse. I heard,
but of course cannot vouch for the truth of the report, that his fixed
remuneration was to be three hundred pounds for the piece; and when, as
I also hear (but again will not vouch for the truth of my story),
besides Henry's, that he has bought another horse, and, besides that
other horse, a miraculous "Cab," and, besides that miraculous "Cab,"
ordered no fewer than seven new coats, I think you will agree with me
that the author of "London Assurance," successful as his piece may be,
ought to have found a deeper mine than that is likely to prove to serve
so many ends. When I expressed my disapprobation of Henry's assisting by
any means or in any way such boyish extravagance, he said that the lad
had guardians; and therefore I suppose he has property besides what may
come of play-writing--for men's persons, however pretty, are seldom put
under guardianship of trustees; and Henry argued, in the proper manly
fashion, that the youth, having property, had also a right to be as
foolish in the abuse of it as he pleased, or as his guardians would let

We none of us went to see "Patter _versus_ Clatter," after all, having
all some previous engagement, so that, though it was literally given for
our special amusement, we were none of us there.

I have received no less than four American letters by the last steamer,
and this, though a welcome pleasure, is also a considerable addition to
the things to be done. God bless you, dearest H----. This letter was
begun about three days ago, and now it is the second of April.

                              Yours ever,

    [The young author of the clever play called "London Assurance" had a
    special interest for me from having been my brother Henry's
    schoolfellow at Westminster.... His career as a dramatic author and
    actor has won him a high and well-deserved reputation in both
    capacities, both in England and America.]

                                      CLARGES STREET, Friday, April 9th.

My father is just now much better; he has regained his appetite, and
talks again of going out....

I can tell you nothing about my daguerreotype; for having gone,
according to appointment, last Monday, and waited, which I could ill
afford to do, nearly three quarters of an hour, and finally come away,
there being apparently no chance of my turn arriving at all that day, I
saw nothing of it; and I think it was very well that it saw nothing of
me, for such another sulky thunder-cloud as my countenance presented
under these circumstances seldom sat for its picture to Phoebus
Apollo, or any of his artist sons. I am to go again on Wednesday, and
shall be able to tell you something about it, I hope.

I have not seen Mr. T----'s sketch of the children. He is in high
delight with it himself, I believe; and, moreover, has undertaken, in
the plenitude of his artistical enthusiasm, to steal a likeness of me,
putting me in a great arm-chair, with S---- standing on one side for
tragedy, and F---- perched on the opposite arm of the chair for comedy.

Lane was to have come here to draw the children this very evening; but
it is half-past ten and he has not been, and of course is not coming....

Good-bye, dear.

                              Ever affectionately yours,

                                  CLARGES STREET, Monday, May 3rd, 1841.

Thank you, dearest H----, for your prompt compliance with my request
about your travelling information.... About the daguerreotype, you know,
I should have precisely the same objection to taking another person's
appointed time that I have to mine being appropriated by somebody else;
but Emily has made another appointment for me: she had made one for the
day on which my sister arrived, which rather provoked me; but I was
resigned, nevertheless, because I had told her I would go at any time
she chose to name. She let me off, however; not, I believe, from any
compassion for me, but because my father had set his heart upon my going
with him to the private view of the new exhibition, just a quarter of an
hour after the time I was to have been at the daguerreotypist's. So to
the gallery I went, an hour after Adelaide had returned from Italy; as
you know, I had not seen her for several years (indeed, not since my
marriage). And so to the gallery I went, with buzzing in my ears and
dizziness in my eyes, and an hysterical choking, which made me afraid to
open my lips. Why my father was so anxious to go to this exhibition I
hardly know; but I went to please him, and came back to please myself,
without having an idea of a single picture in the whole collection.
Emily has now made another appointment for me, or rather for you, early
on Wednesday morning, and I hope we shall accomplish something at last.

Now you want to know something about Adelaide. There she sits in the
next room at the piano, singing sample-singing, and giving a taste of
her quality to Charles Greville, who, you know, is an influential person
in all sorts of matters, and to whom Henry has written about her merits,
and probable acceptability with the fashionable musical world. She is
singing most beautifully, and the passionate words of love, longing,
grief, and joy burst through that utterance of musical sound, and light
up her whole countenance with a perfect blaze of emotion. As for me, the
tears stream over my face all the time, and I can hardly prevent myself
from sobbing aloud.... She has grown very large, I think almost as large
as I remember my mother; she looks very well and very handsome, and has
acquired something completely foreign in her tone and manner, and even
accent.... She complains of the darkness of our skies and the dulness of
our mode of life here as intolerable and oppressive to the last

I cannot believe happiness to be the purpose of life, for when was
anything ordained with an unattainable purpose?... But life, which, but
for duty, seems always sad enough to me, appears sadder than usual when
I try to look at it from the point of view of the happiness it contains.

The children are well; Lane has taken a charming likeness of them, of
which I promise you a copy. God bless you, dearest H----. I do not lean
on human love; I do not depend or reckon on it; nor have I ever MISTAKEN
any human being for my _best friend_.

                              Affectionately yours,

                                               CLARGES STREET, May 21st.
  DEAREST H----,

From the midst of this musical Maelstrom I send you a voice, which, if
heard instead of read, would be lamentable enough. We are lifted off our
feet by the perfect torrent of engagements, of visits, of going out and
receiving; our house is full, from morning till night, of people coming
to sing with or listen to my sister. How her strength is to resist the
demands made upon it by the violent emotions she is perpetually
expressing, or how any human throat is to continue pouring out such
volumes of sound without rest or respite, passes my comprehension. Now,
let me tell you how I am surrounded at this minute while I write to you.
At my very table sit Trelawney and Charles Young, talking to me and to
each other; farther on, towards my father, Mr. G---- C----; and an
Italian singer on one side of my sister; and on the other, an Italian
painter, who has brought letters of introduction to us; then Mary Anne
Thackeray; ... furthermore, the door has just closed upon an English
youth of the name of B----, who sings almost as well as an Italian, and
with whom my sister has been singing her soul out for the last two
hours.... We dined yesterday with the Francis Egertons; to-morrow
evening we have a gathering here, with, I beg you to believe, nothing
under the rank of a viscount, Beauforts, Normanbys, Wiltons,
_illustrissimi tutti quanti_. Friday, my sister sings at the Palace, and
we are all enveloped in a golden cloud of fashionable hard work, which
rather delights my father; which my sister lends herself to, complaining
a little of the trouble, fatigue, and late hours; but thinking it for
the interest of her future public career, and always becoming rapt and
excited beyond all other considerations in her own capital musical
performances.... As for me, I am rather bewildered by the whirl in which
we live, which I find rather a trying contrast to my late solitary
existence in America.... The incessant music wears upon my nerves a
great deal; but chiefly, I think, because half the time I am not able to
listen to it quietly, and it distracts me while I am obliged to attend
to other things. But indeed, often, when I can give my undivided
attention to it, my sister's singing excites me to such a degree that I
am obliged, after crying my bosom full of tears, to run out of the room.

My father continues in wonderful good looks and spirits.... Here, dear
H----, a long interruption.... We are off to St. John's Wood, to dine
with the Procters: ---- is not ready; my sister is lying on the sofa,
reading aloud an Italian letter to me; the children are rioting about
the room like a couple of little maniacs, and I feel inclined to endorse
Macbeth's opinion of life, that it is all sound and fury and signifying
nothing.... Thus far, and another interruption; and now it is to-morrow,
and Lady Grey and Lady G---- have just gone out of the room, and Chauncy
Hare Townsend has just come in, followed by his mesmeric German patient,
who is going to perform his magnetic magic for us. I think I will let
him try what sort of a subject I should be.

I enclose a little note and silk chain, brought for you from America by
Miss Fanny Appleton [afterwards Mrs. Longfellow], who has just arrived
in London, to the great joy of her sister. I suppose these tokens come
to you from the Sedgwicks. I have a little box which poor C---- S----
brought from Catherine for you--a delicate carved wooden casket, that I
have not sent to you because I was afraid it would be broken, by any
post or coach conveyance. Tell me about this, how I shall send it to
you. I have obtained too for you that German book which I delight in so
very much, Richter's "Fruit, Flower, and Thorn Pieces," and which, in
the midst of much that is probably too German, in thought, feeling, and
expression, to meet with your entire sympathy, will, I think, furnish
you with sweet and pleasant thoughts for a while; I scarce know anything
that I like much better.

I was going to see Rachel this evening, but my brother and his wife
having come up to town for the day, I do not think we ought all to go
out and leave them; so that ---- is gone with Adelaide and Lady M----,
and I shall seize this quiet chance for writing to Emily, to whom I have
not yet contrived to send a word since she left town. God bless you.

                              Ever yours,

    [The young lad Alexis, to whom I have referred in this letter was, I
    think, one of the first of the long train of mesmerists,
    magnetizers, spiritualists, charlatans, cheats, and humbugs who
    subsequently appealed to the notice and practised on the credulity
    of London society. Mr. Chauncy Hare Townsend was an enthusiastic
    convert to the theory of animal magnetism, and took about with him,
    to various houses, this German boy, whose exhibition of mesmeric
    phenomena was the first I ever witnessed. Mr. Townsend had almost
    insisted upon our receiving this visit, and we accordingly assembled
    in the drawing-room, to witness the powers of Alexis. We were all of
    us sceptical, one of our party so incurably so that after each
    exhibition of clairvoyance given by Alexis, and each exclamation of
    Mr. Townsend's, "There now, you see that?" he merely replied, with
    the most imperturbable phlegm, "Yes, I see it, but I don't believe
    it." The clairvoyant power of the young man consisted principally in
    reading passages from books presented to him while under the
    influence of the mesmeric sleep, into which he had been thrown by
    Mr. Townsend, and with which he was previously unacquainted. The
    results were certainly sufficiently curious, though probably neither
    marvellous nor unaccountable. To make sure that his eyes were really
    effectually closed, cotton-wool was laid over them, and a broad,
    tight bandage placed upon them; during another trial the hands of
    our chief sceptic were placed upon his eyelids, so as effectually to
    keep them completely closed, in spite of which he undoubtedly read
    out of a book held up before him above his eyes, and rather on a
    level with his forehead; nor can I remember any instance in which he
    appeared to find any great difficulty in doing so, except when a
    book suddenly fetched from another room was opened before him, when
    he hesitated and expressed incapacity, and then said, "The book is
    French;" which it was.

    Believing entirely in a sort of hitherto undefined, and possibly
    undefinable, physical influence, by which the nervous system of one
    person may be affected by that of another, by special exercise of
    will and effort, so as to produce an almost absolute temporary
    subserviency of the whole nature to the force by which it is acted
    upon, and therefore thinking it extremely possible, and not
    improbable, that many of the instances of mesmeric influence I have
    heard related had some foundation in truth, I have, nevertheless,
    kept entirely aloof from the whole subject, never voluntarily
    attended any exhibitions of such phenomena, and regarded the whole
    series of experiments and experiences and pretended marvels of the
    numerous adepts in mesmerism with contempt and disgust--contempt for
    the crass ignorance and glaring dishonesty involved in their
    practices; and disgust, because of the moral and physical mischief
    their absurd juggleries were likely to produce, and in many
    instances did produce, upon subjects as ignorant, but less
    dishonest, than the charlatans by whom they were duped.

    The thing having, in my opinion, a very probable existence, possibly
    a physical force of considerable effect, and not thoroughly
    ascertained or understood nature, the experiments people practised
    and lent themselves to appeared to me exactly as wise and as
    becoming as if they had drunk so much brandy or eaten so much opium
    or hasheesh, by way of trying the effect of these drugs upon their
    constitution; with this important difference that the magnetic
    experiments severely tested the nervous system of both patient and
    operator, and had, besides, an indefinite element of moral
    importance, in the attempted control of one human will by another,
    through physical means, which appeared to me to place all such
    experiments at once among things forbidden to rational and
    responsible agents.

    I am now speaking only of the early developments of physical
    phenomena exhibited by the first magnetizers and mesmerizers--the
    conjurers by passes and somnolence and other purely physical
    processes; the crazy and idiotic performances of their successors,
    the so-called spiritualists, with their grotesque and disgusting
    pretence of intercourse with the spirits of the dead through the
    legs of their tables and chairs, seemed to me the most melancholy
    testimony to an utter want of faith in things spiritual, of belief
    in God and Christ's teaching, and a pitiful craving for such a
    faith, as well as to the absence of all rational common sense, in
    the vast numbers of persons deluded by such processes. In this
    aspect (the total absence of right reason and real religion
    demonstrated by these ludicrous and blasphemous juggleries in our
    Christian communities), that which was farcical in the lowest degree
    became tragical in the highest. I only witnessed this one mesmeric
    exhibition, on the occasion of this visit paid to us by Mr. Townsend
    and Alexis, until several years afterwards, in the house of my
    excellent friend Mr. Combe, in Edinburgh, when I was one of a party
    called upon to witness some experiments of the same kind. I was
    staying with Mr. Combe and my cousin Cecilia, when one evening their
    friend Mrs. Crow, authoress of more than one book, I believe, and of
    a collection of supernatural horrors, of stories of ghosts,
    apparitions, etc., etc., called "The Night Side of Nature" (the
    lady had an evident sympathy for the absurd and awful), came,
    bringing with her a Dr. Lewis, a negro gentleman, who was creating
    great excitement in Edinburgh by his advocacy of the theories of
    mesmerism, and his own powers of magnetizing. Mrs. Crow had
    threatened Mr. and Mrs. Combe with a visit from this _professor_,
    and though neither of them had the slightest tendency to belief in
    any such powers as those Dr. Lewis laid claim to, they received him
    with kindly courtesy, and consented, with the amused indifference of
    scepticism, to be spectators of his experiments. Under these
    circumstances, great as was my antipathy to the whole thing, I did
    not like to raise any objection to it or to leave the room, which
    would have been a still more marked expression of my feeling; so I
    sat down with the rest of the company round the drawing-room table,
    Mr. and Mrs. Combe, Dr. Lewis, Mrs. Crow, our friend Professor
    William Gregory, and Dr. Becker--the latter gentleman a man of
    science, brother, I think, to Prince Albert's private librarian--who
    was to be the subject of Dr. Lewis's experiments, having already
    lent himself for the same purpose to that gentleman, and been
    pronounced highly sensitive to the magnetic influence.

    I sat by Dr. Becker, and opposite to Dr. Lewis, with the width of
    the table between us. What ulterior processes were to be exhibited I
    do not know, but the first result to be obtained was to throw Dr.
    Becker into a mesmeric state of somnolence, under the influence of
    the operator. The latter presently began his experiment, and,
    drawing entirely from his coat and shirt sleeve a long, lithe, black
    hand, the finger-tips of which were of that pale livid tinge so
    common in the hands of negroes, he directed it across the table
    towards Dr. Becker, and began slowly making passes at him. We were
    all profoundly still and silent, and, in spite of my disgust, I
    watched the whole scene with considerable interest. By degrees the
    passes became more rapid, and the hand was stretched nearer and
    nearer towards its victim, waving and quivering like some black
    snake, while the face of the operator assumed an expression of the
    most concentrated powerful purpose, which, combined with his sable
    color and the vehement imperative gestures which he aimed at Dr.
    Becker, really produced a quasi-diabolical effect. The result,
    however, was not immediate. Dr. Becker was apparently less
    susceptible this evening than on previous occasions; but Dr. Lewis
    renewed and repeated his efforts, each time with a nearer approach
    and increased vehemence, and at length his patient's eyelids began
    to quiver, he gasped painfully for breath, and was evidently
    becoming overpowered by the influence to which he had subjected
    himself; when, after a few seconds of the most intense efforts on
    the part of Dr. Lewis, these symptoms passed off, and the
    mesmerizer, with much appearance of exhaustion, declared himself,
    for some reason or other, unable to produce the desired effect
    (necessary for the subsequent exhibition of his powers) of
    compelling Dr. Becker into a state of somnolency--a thing which he
    had not failed to accomplish on every previous occasion. The trial
    had to be given up, and much speculation and discussion followed as
    to the probable cause of the failure, for which neither the
    magnetizer nor his patient could account. Believing in this strange
    action of nervous power in one person over another, I am persuaded
    that I prevented Dr. Lewis's experiment from succeeding. The whole
    exhibition had from the very beginning aroused in me such a feeling
    of antagonism, such a mingled horror, disgust, and indignation,
    that, when my neighbor appeared about to succumb to the influence
    operating upon him, my whole nature was roused to such a state of
    active opposition to the process I was witnessing that I determined,
    if there was power in human will to make itself felt by mere silent
    concentrated effort of purpose, I would prevent Dr. Lewis from
    accomplishing his end; and it seemed to me, as I looked at him, as
    if my whole being had become absorbed in my determination to defeat
    his endeavor to set Dr. Becker to sleep. The nervous tension I
    experienced is hardly to be described, and I firmly believe that I
    accomplished my purpose. I was too much exhausted, after we left the
    table, to speak, and too disagreeably affected by the whole scene to
    wish to do so.

    The next day I told Mr. Combe of my counter-magnetizing, or rather
    neutralizing, experiment, by which he was greatly amused; but I do
    not think he cared to enter upon any investigation of the subject,
    feeling little interested in it, and having been rather surprised
    into this exhibition of it by Mrs. Crow's bringing Dr. Lewis to his
    house. That lady being undoubtedly an admirable subject for all such
    experiments, having what my dear Mr. Combe qualified as "a most
    preposterous organ of wonder," for which, poor woman, I suppose she
    paid the penalty in a terrible nervous seizure, a fit of temporary
    insanity, during which she imagined that she received a visit from
    the Virgin Mary and our Saviour, both of whom commanded her to go
    without any clothes on into the streets of Edinburgh, and walk a
    certain distance in that condition, in reward for which the sins and
    sufferings of the whole world would be immediately alleviated. Upon
    her demurring to fulfil this mandate, she received the further
    assurance that if she took her card-case in her right hand and her
    pocket-handkerchief in her left, her condition of nudity would be
    entirely unobserved by any one she met. Under the influence of her
    diseased fancy, Mrs. Crow accordingly went forth, with nothing on
    but a pair of boots, and being immediately rescued from the terrible
    condition of mad exposure, in which she had already made a few paces
    in the street where she lived, and carried back into her house, she
    exclaimed, "Oh, I must have taken my card-case and my handkerchief
    in the wrong hands, otherwise nobody would have seen me!" She
    recovered entirely from this curious attack of hallucination, and I
    met her in society afterwards, perfectly restored to her senses.

    On one occasion I allowed myself to be persuaded into testing my own
    powers of mesmerizing, by throwing a young friend into a magnetic
    sleep. I succeeded with considerable difficulty, and the next day
    experienced great nervous exhaustion, which, I think, was the
    consequence of her having, as she assured me she had, resisted with
    the utmost effort of her will my endeavor to put her to sleep. As I
    disapproved, however, of all such experiments, this is the only one
    I ever tried.

    My belief in the reality of the influence was a good deal derived
    from my own experience, which was that of an invariable tendency to
    sleep in the proximity of certain persons of whom I was particularly
    fond. I used to sit at Mrs. Harry Siddons's feet, and she had hardly
    laid her hand upon my head before it fell upon her knees, and I was
    in a profound slumber. My friend Miss ----'s neighborhood had the
    same effect upon me, and when we were not engaged in furious
    discussion, I was very apt to be fast asleep whenever I was near
    her. E---- S---- relieved me of an intense toothache once by putting
    me to sleep with a few mesmeric passes, and I have, moreover, more
    than once, immediately after violent nervous excitement, been so
    overcome with drowsiness as to be unable to move. I remember a most
    ludicrous instance of this occurring to me in the church of
    Stratford-upon-Avon, when, standing before Shakespeare's tomb, and
    looking intensely at his monument, I became so overpowered with
    sleep that I could hardly rouse myself enough to leave the church,
    and I begged very hard to be allowed to sleep out my sleep, then and
    there, upon the stones under which he lay.

    After extreme distress of mind, I have sometimes slept a whole day
    and night without waking; and once, when overcome with anguish,
    slept, with hardly an hour's interval at a time, the greater part of
    a week. The drowsiness inspired in me by some of my friends I
    attribute entirely to physical sympathy; others, of whom I was
    nearly as fond, never affected me in this manner in the slightest
    degree. I have often congratulated myself upon the fact that I had
    by no means an equal tendency to physical antipathy, though, in
    common with most other people, I have had some experience of that
    also. My very dear and excellent friend ---- always _m'agaçait les
    nerfs_, as French people say, though I was deeply attached to her
    and very fond of her society. Mrs. ----, of whose excellence I had
    the most profound conviction, and who was generally esteemed
    perfectly charming by her intimates, affected me with such a curious
    intuitive revulsion that the first time she came and sat down by me
    I was obliged to get up and leave the room--indeed, the house. Two
    men of our acquaintance, remarkable for their general attractiveness
    and powers of pleasing, ---- and ----, were never in the same room
    ten minutes with me without my becoming perfectly chilled through,
    as though I had suddenly had the door of an ice-house opened upon
    me. They were entirely dissimilar men in every respect....

    Of the spiritualistic performances of Messrs. Hume, Foster, etc.,
    etc., I never was a witness. An intimate acquaintance of mine, who
    knew Hume well, assured me that she knew him to be an impostor,
    adding at the same time, "But I also know him to be clairvoyant,"
    which seemed to me mere tautology.

    My sister and Charles Greville, having had their curiosity excited
    by some of the reports of Mr. Foster's performances, agreed to go
    together to visit him, and having received an appointment for a
    _séance_, went to his house. Certainly, if Mr. Foster had taken in
    either of those two customers of his, it would have gone near
    converting me. Charles Greville, who was deaf, and spoke rather loud
    in consequence of that infirmity, said, as he entered, to my sister,
    "I shall ask him about my mother." Adelaide, quite determined to
    test the magician's powers to the utmost, replied, with an air of
    concern, as if shocked at the idea, "Oh, no, don't do that; it is
    too dreadful." However, this suggestion of course not being thrown
    away upon Mr. Foster, Charles Greville desired to be put in
    communication with the spirit of his mother, which was accordingly
    duly done by the operator, and various messages were delivered, as
    purporting to come from the spirit of Lady Charlotte Greville to her
    son. After this farce had gone on for a little while, Charles
    Greville turned to my sister with perfect composure, and said,
    "Well, now perhaps you had better ask him to tell you something
    about your mother, because, you know, mine is not dead." The
    _séance_ of course proceeded no further. At an earlier period of it,
    as they were sitting round a table, Mr. Foster desired that written
    names might be furnished him of the persons with whose spirits
    communication might be desired. Among the names written down for
    this purpose by my sister were several foreign, Italian and German,
    names, with which she felt very sure Mr. Foster could not possibly
    have any acquaintance; indeed, it was beyond all question that he
    never could have heard of them. Adelaide was sitting next to him,
    watching his operations with extreme attention, and presently
    observed him very dexterously convey several of these foreign names
    into his sleeve, and from thence to the ground under the table.
    After a little while, Mr. Foster observed that, singularly enough,
    several of the names he had received were now missing, and by some
    extraordinary means had disappeared entirely from among the rest.
    "Oh yes," said my sister very quietly, "but they are only under the
    table, just where you put them a little while ago." With such
    subjects of course Mr. Foster performed no miracles.

    Some years ago a new form of these objectionable practices came into
    vogue, and one summer, going up into Massachusetts, I found the two
    little mountain villages of Lenox and Stockbridge possessed, in the
    proper sense of the term, by a devil of their own making, called
    "Planchette." A little heart-shaped piece of wood, running upon
    castors, and that could almost be moved with a breath, and carrying
    along a sheet of paper, over which it was placed, a pencil was
    supposed to write, on its own inspiration, communications in reply
    to the person's thoughts whose finger-tips were to rest above,
    without giving any impulse to the board. Of course a hand held in
    this constrained attitude is presently compelled to rest itself by
    some slight pressure; the effort to steady it, and the nervous
    effort not to press upon the machine, producing inevitably in the
    wrist aching weariness, and in the fingers every conceivable
    tendency to nervous twitching. Add to this the intense conviction of
    the foolish folk, half of them hysterical women, that their
    concentrated effort of will was, in combination with a mysterious
    supernatural agency, to move the board; and the board naturally not
    only moved but, carrying the pencil along with it, wrote the answers
    required and desired by the credulous consulters of the wooden

    The thing would have been indescribably ludicrous but for the
    terrible effect it was having upon the poor people who were
    practising upon themselves with it. Excitable young girls of fifteen
    and sixteen, half hysterical with their wonderment; ignorant,
    afflicted women, who had lost dear relations and friends by death;
    superstitious lads, and men too incapable of consecutive reasoning
    to perceive the necessary connection between cause and effect; the
    whole community, in short, seemed to me catching the credulous
    infection one from another, and to be in a state bordering upon
    insanity or idiocy.

    A young lady-friend of mine, a miserable invalid, was so possessed
    with faith in this wooden demon that, after resisting repeated
    entreaties on her part to witness some of its performances, I at
    length, at her earnest request, saw her operate upon it. The writing
    was almost unintelligible, and undoubtedly produced by the vibrating
    impulse given to the machine by her nervous, feeble, diaphanous
    hands. Finding my scepticism invincible by these means, my friend
    implored me to think in my own mind a question, and see if
    Planchette would not answer it. I yielded at last to her all but
    hysterical importunity, and thought of an heraldic question
    concerning the crest on a ring which I wore, which I felt was quite
    beyond Planchette's penetration; but while we sat in quiet
    expectation of the reply, which of course did not come, my friend's
    mother--a sober, middle-aged lady, habitually behaving herself with
    perfect reasonableness, and, moreover, without a spark of
    imagination (but that, indeed, was rather of course; belief in such
    supernatural agencies betokening, in my opinion, an absence of
    poetical imagination, as well as of spiritual faith), practical,
    sensible, commonplace, without a touch of nonsense of any kind about
    her, as I had always supposed--sat opposite the _machine infernale_,
    over which her daughter's fingers hung suspended, and as the answer
    did not come, broke out for all the world like one of Baal's
    prophets of old: "Now, Planchette, now, Planchette, behave; do your
    duty. Now, Planchette, write at once," etc.; and I felt as if I were
    in Bedlam. One thing is certain, that if Planchette's answer had
    approached in the remotest degree the answer to the question of my
    thought, I would then and there have broken Planchette in half, and
    left my friends in the possession of their remaining brains until
    they had procured another.

    The strangest experience, however, that I met with in connection
    with this absurd delusion occurred during a visit that I received
    from Mrs. B---- S----. That lady was staying with her daughter in
    Stockbridge, and did me the honor to call on me at Lenox with that
    young lady. Among other things spoken of I asked my distinguished
    visitor some questions about this superstitious folly, Planchette,
    nothing doubting that I should hear from her an eloquent
    condemnation of all the absurd proceedings going on in the two
    villages. The lady's face assumed a decided expression of grave
    disapprobation, certainly, and she spoke to this effect:
    "Planchette! Oh dear, yes, we are perfectly familiar with
    Planchette, and, indeed, have been in the habit of consulting it
    quite often." "Oh, indeed," quoth I, and I felt my own face growing
    longer with amazement as I spoke. "Yes," continued my celebrated
    visitor, with much deliberation, "we have; but I think it will no
    longer be possible for us to do so. No, we must certainly give up
    having anything to do with it." "Dear me!" said I, almost
    breathless, and with a queer quaver in my voice, that I could hardly
    command, "may I ask why, pray?" "The language it uses----"
    "It!--the language _it_ uses!" ejaculated I. "Yes," she pursued,
    with increasing solemnity, "the language it uses is so reprehensible
    that it will be quite impossible for us to consult or have anything
    further to do with it." "Really," said I, hardly able to utter for
    suppressed laughter; "and may I ask, may I inquire what language it
    does use?" "Why," returned Mrs. S----, with some decorous hesitation
    and reluctance to utter the words that followed, "the last time we
    consulted it, it told us we were all a pack of damned fools." "Oh!"
    exploded I, "I believe in Planchette, I believe in Planchette!" Mrs.
    S---- drew herself up with an air of such offended surprise at my
    burst of irrepressible merriment that I suddenly stopped, and
    letting what was boiling below my laughter come to the surface, I
    exclaimed, in language far more shocking to ears polite than
    Planchette's own: "And do you really think that Satan, the great
    devil of hell, in whom you believe, is amusing himself with telling
    you such truths as those, through a bit of board on wheels?"
    "Really," replied the woman of genius, in a tone of lofty dignity,
    "I cannot pretend to say whether or not it is _the_ devil; of one
    thing I am very certain, the influence by which it speaks is
    undoubtedly devilish." I turned in boundless amazement to the
    younger lady, whose mischievous countenance, with a broad grin upon
    it, at once settled all my doubts as to the devilish influence under
    which Planchette had spoken such home truths to her family circle,
    and I let the subject drop, remaining much astonished, as I often
    am, at the degree to which _les gens d'ésprit sont bêtes_.

    I once attended some young friends to a lecture, as it called
    itself, upon electro-biology. It was tedious, stupid, and
    ridiculous; the only thing that struck me was the curious condition
    of bewildered imbecility into which two or three young men, who
    presented themselves to be operated upon, fell, under the influence
    of the lecturer. I had reason to believe that there was no collusion
    in the case, and therefore was surprised at the evident state of
    stupor and mental confusion (even to the not being able to pronounce
    their own name) which they exhibited when, after looking intently
    and without moving at a coin placed in their hand for some time,
    their faculties appeared entirely bewildered, and though they were
    not asleep, they seemed hardly conscious, and opposed not the
    slightest resistance to the orders they received to sit down, stand
    up, to try to remember their names,--which they were assured they
    could not, and did not,--and their general submission, of course in
    very trifling matters, to the sort of bullying directions addressed
    to them in a loud peremptory tone; to which they replied with the
    sort of stupefied languor of persons half asleep or under the
    influence of opium. I did not quite understand how they were thrown
    into this curious condition by the mere assumption of an immovable
    attitude and fixed gazing at a piece of coin; an experience of my
    own, however, subsequently enlightened me as to the possible nervous
    effect of such immobility and strained attention.

    My friend Sir Frederick Leighton, despairing of finding a model to
    assume a sufficiently dramatic expression of wickedness for a
    picture he was painting of Jezebel, was deploring his difficulty one
    day, when Henry Greville, who was standing by, said to him, "Why
    don't you ask her"--pointing to me--"to do it for you?" Leighton
    expressed some kindly reluctance to put my countenance to such a
    use; but I had not the slightest objection to stand for Jezebel, if
    by so doing I could help him out of his dilemma. So to his studio I
    went, ascended his platform, and having been duly placed in the
    attitude required, and instructed on what precise point of the wall
    opposite to me to fix my eyes, I fell to thinking of the scene the
    picture represented, of the meeting between Ahab and his wicked
    queen with Elijah on the threshold of Naboth's vineyard,
    endeavoring, after my old stage fashion, to assume as thoroughly as
    possible the character which I was representing. Before I had
    retained the constrained attitude and fixed immovable gaze for more
    than a short time, my eyes grew dim, the wall I was glaring at
    seemed to waver about before me, I turned sick, a cold perspiration
    broke out on my forehead, my ears buzzed, my knees trembled, my
    heart throbbed, and I suppose I was not far from a fainting fit. I
    sat abruptly down on the platform, and called my friendly artist to
    my assistance, describing to him my sensations, and asking if he
    could explain what had occasioned them. He expressed remorseful
    distress at having subjected me to such annoyance, saying, however,
    that my condition was not an uncommon one for painters' models to be
    thrown into by the nervous strain of the fixed look and attention,
    and rigid immobility of position, required of them; that he had
    known men succumb to it on a first experiment, but had thought me so
    strong, and so little liable to any purely nervous affection, that
    it had never occurred to him for a moment that there was any danger
    of my being thus overcome.

    I recovered almost immediately, the nervous strain being taken off,
    and resumed my duty as a model, taking care to vary my expression
    and attitude whenever I felt at all weary, and resting myself by
    sitting down and lending another aspect of my face to my friend for
    his Elijah.

    I found, after this experience, no difficulty in understanding the
    state of bewildered stupefaction into which the lecturer on
    electro-biology had thrown his patients by demanding of them a fixed
    attention of mind, look, and attitude to a given point of
    contemplation. I think, just before I quite broke down, I could
    neither have said where I was, nor who I was, nor contradicted Sir
    Frederick Leighton if he had assured me that my name was Polly and
    that I was putting the kettle on.]

                                             CLARGES STREET, June, 1844.

I have not a morsel of letter-paper in my writing-book; do not,
therefore, let your first glance take offence at the poor narrow
note-paper, on which our dear friend Emily is forever writing to me, and
which throws me into a small fury every time I get an affectionate
communication from her on it. Our drawing-room has only this instant
emptied itself of a throng of morning visitors, among whom my brother
John and his wife, Mary Anne Thackeray, Dick Pigott, Sydney Smith, and
A---- C----....

My letter has suffered an interruption, dear Harriet; I had to go out
and return all manner of visits, took a walk with Adelaide in Kensington
Gardens, went and dined quietly with M---- M----, and came back at
half-past ten, to find Mr. C---- very quietly established here with my
father and sister....

This is to-morrow, my dear Harriet, and we are all engaged sitting to
Lane, who is making medallion likenesses of us all. John and his wife
together in one sphere, their two little children in another, ---- and I
in one eternity, and our chicks in another, their two little profiles
looking so funny and so pretty, one just behind the other; my father,
my sister, and Henry have each their world to themselves in single
blessedness. The likenesses are all good, and charmingly executed. I
should like to be able to send you mine and my children's, but as he
will accept no remuneration for them, and as time and trouble are the
daily bread of an artist----

Here I was interrupted again, and obliged to put by my letter, which was
begun last Thursday, and it is now Sunday afternoon. Our drawing-room
has just emptied itself of A---- M---- and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Grote,
Mr. H----, young Mr. K---- of Frankfort, and Chorley. Mrs. Grote brought
with her Fanny Ellsler's little girl, a lovely child about seven years

I must tell you something of our event of yesterday. A concert was given
for the benefit of the Poles, the Duchess of Sutherland condescending to
lend Stafford House, provided the assemblage was quite select and
limited to four hundred people; to accomplish which desirable point, and
at the same time make the thing answer its charitable purpose, the
tickets were sold at first at two guineas apiece, and on the morning
itself of the concert at five guineas. Rachel was to recite, Liszt to
play, and my sister was requested to sing, which she agreed to do, the
occasion being semi-public and private, so to speak. A large assembly of
our finest (and bluntest) people was not a bad audience, in a worldly
sense, for her _début_. She sang beautifully, and looked beautiful, and
was extremely admired and praised and petted.

The whole scene was one of the gayest and most splendid possible, the
entertainment and assembly taking place in the great hall and staircase
of Stafford House, with its scarlet floor-cloths, and marble stairs and
balustrades, and pillars of scagliola, and fretted roof of gold and
white, and skylight surrounded and supported by gigantic gilt

The wide noble flights of steps and long broad galleries, filled with
brilliantly dressed groups; with the sunlight raining down in streams on
the panels and pillars of the magnificent hall, on the beautiful faces
of the women, and the soft sheen and brilliant varied coloring of their
clothes, and on perfect masses of flowers, piled in great pyramids of
every form and hue in every niche and corner, or single plants covered
with an exquisite profusion of perfect bloom, standing here and there in
great precious china vases stolen from the Arabian Nights; it really
was one of the grandest and gayest shows you can imagine, more beautiful
than Paul Veronese's most splendid pictures, which it reminded one of.

My sister's singing overcame me dreadfully....

I must close this letter, my dear; my head is in such a state of
confusion that I scarcely know what I write; and if I keep it longer,
you will never get it.

                              Yours ever truly----

(I don't know what I am saying; I love you affectionately, but I am
almost beside myself with--everything.)

                              Yours ever,

                                CLARGES STREET, Sunday, June 20th, 1841.

You know, dearest Harriet, my aversion to writing short letters; I have
something of the same feeling about that hateful little note-paper on
which I have lately written to you. The sight of these fair large
squares laid on my table, and of at least six unanswered letters of
yours, prompts me to use this quiet half-hour--quiet by comparison only,
for ----, Adelaide, and little F---- are shouting all round me, and a
distracting brass band, that I dote upon, is playing tunes to which I am
literally writing in time; nevertheless, in this house, this may be
called a moment of profoundest quiet.

I do not believe that you will have quarrelled much with the note-paper,
because I certainly filled it as well as I could; but I always feel
insulted when anybody that I really care for writes to me on those
frivolous, insufficient-looking sheets. I suppose, if you have missed
Emily's Boswellian records of our sayings and doings here, you have
received from her instead epistles redolent of the sweetness of the
country, whole nosegays of words, that have made me gasp again for the
grass and trees, and the natural enjoyments of life. Her affectionate
remembrance reaches me every day by penny post, a little envelope full
of delicious orange-blossoms, with which my clothes and everything about
me are perfumed for the rest of the day.

You have not said much to me about the daguerreotype, nor did you ask me
anything about the process; but that, I suppose, is because Emily
furnished you with so many more details than I probably should, and with
much more scientific knowledge to make her description clear. I found
it better looking than I had expected, but altogether different, which
surprised me, because I thought I knew my own face. It was less thick in
the outlines than I had thought it would be, but also older looking than
I fancied myself, and it gave me a heavy jaw, which I was not conscious
of possessing. The process was wonderfully rapid; I think certainly not
above two minutes. I have seen several of Charles Young, which are
admirable, and do not appear to me exaggerated in any respect....

My father and Adelaide dined with the Macdonalds on Sunday; and Sir
John, who, you know, is adjutant-general, made her a kind of half
promise that he would give Henry leave to come over from Ireland and see

I believe the first time that S---- heard her aunt sing was one night
after she was in bed (she sleeps in my room, where one does not lose a
note of the music below). When I went up, I found her wide awake, and
she started up in her bed, exclaiming, "Well, how many angels have you
got down there, I should like to know?"

I wrote thus much this morning, dear Harriet; this evening I have
another quiet season in which to resume my pen.... I have been obliged
to give up my dinner engagement for to-day, and I sat down by the
failing light of half-past seven o'clock to eat a cold dinner alone,
with a book in my hand: which combination of circumstances reminded me
so forcibly of my American home, that I could hardly make out whether I
was here or there.

So far yesterday, Thursday evening; it is now Friday morning. Adelaide
has gone out with Mary Anne Thackeray to buy cheap gowns at a bankrupt
shop in Regent Street; the piano is silent, and I can hear myself think,
and have some consciousness of what I am writing about....

Dearest Harriet, it is now Sunday morning; there is a most stupendous
row at the pianoforte, and, luckily, there is no more space in this
paper for my addled brains to testify to the effect of this musical
tempest. God bless you.

                              Ever yours,

                             CLARGES STREET, Wednesday, June 23rd, 1841.

You asked me some time ago some questions about Rachel, which I never
answered, in the first place because I had not seen her then, and since
I have seen her I have had other things I wanted to say. Everybody here
is now raving about her. I have only seen her once on the stage, and
heard her declaim at Stafford House, the morning of the concert for the
Poles. Her appearance is very striking: she is of a very good height;
too thin for beauty, but not for dignity or grace; her want of chest and
breadth indeed almost suggest a tendency to pulmonary disease, coupled
with her pallor and her youth (she is only just twenty). Her voice is
the most remarkable of her natural qualifications for her vocation,
being the deepest and most sonorous voice I ever heard from a woman's
lips: it wants brilliancy, variety, and tenderness; but it is like a
fine, deep-toned bell, and expresses admirably the passions in the
delineation of which she excels--scorn, hatred, revenge, vitriolic
irony, concentrated rage, seething jealousy, and a fierce love which
seems in its excess allied to all the evil which sometimes springs from
that bittersweet root. [I shall never forget the first time I ever heard
Mademoiselle Rachel speak. I was acting my old part of Julia, in "The
Hunchback," at Lady Ellesmere's, where the play was got up for an
audience of her friends, and for her especial gratification. The room
was darkened, with the exception of our stage, and I had no means of
discriminating anybody among my audience, which was, as became an
assembly of such distinguished persons, decorously quiet and
undemonstrative. But in one of the scenes, where the foolish heroine, in
the midst of her vulgar triumph at the Earl of Rochdale's proposal, is
suddenly overcome by the remorseful recollection of her love for
Clifford, and almost lets the earl's letter fall from her trembling
hands, I heard a voice out of the darkness, and it appeared to me almost
close to my feet, exclaiming, in a tone the vibrating depth of which I
shall never forget, "_Ah, bien, bien, très bien!_"] Mademoiselle
Rachel's face is very expressive and dramatically fine, though not
absolutely beautiful. It is a long oval, with a head of classical and
very graceful contour; the forehead rather narrow and not very high; the
eyes small, dark, deep-set, and terribly powerful; the brow straight,
noble, and fine in form, though not very flexible.

I was immensely struck and carried away with her performance of
"Hermione," though I am not sure that some of the parts did not seem to
me finer than the whole, as a whole conception. That in which she is
unrivalled by any actor or actress I ever saw is the expression of a
certain combined and concentrated hatred and scorn. Her reply to
Andromaque's appeal to her, in that play, was one of the most perfect
things I have ever seen on the stage: the cold, cruel, acrid enjoyment
of her rival's humiliation,--the quiet, bitter, unmerciful exercise of
the power of torture, was certainly, in its keen incisiveness, quite
incomparable. It is singular that so young a woman should so especially
excel in delineations and expressions of this order of emotion, while in
the utterance of tenderness, whether in love or sorrow, she appears
comparatively less successful; I am not, however, perhaps competent to
pronounce upon this point, for Hermione and Emilie, in Corneille's
"Cinna," are not characters abounding in tenderness. Lady M---- saw her
the other day in "Marie Stuart," and cried her eyes almost out, so she
must have some pathetic power. ---- was so enchanted with her, both on
and off the stage, that he took me to call upon her, on her arrival in
London, and I was very much pleased with the quiet grace and dignity,
the excellent _bon ton_ of her manners and deportment. The other morning
too, at Stafford House, I was extremely overcome at my sister's first
public exhibition in England, and was endeavoring, while I screened
myself behind a pillar, to hide my emotion and talk with some composure
to Rachel; she saw, however, how it was with me, and with great kindness
allowed me to go into a room that had been appropriated to her use
between her declamations, and was very amiable and courteous to me.

She is completely the rage in London now; all the fine ladies and
gentlemen crazy after her, the Queen throwing her roses on the stage out
of her own bouquet, and viscountesses and marchionesses driving her
about, _à l'envie l'une de l'autre_, to show her all the lions of the
town. She is miserably supported on the stage, poor thing, the _corps
dramatique_ engaged to act with her being not only bad, but some of them
(the principal hero, principally) irresistibly ludicrous.

By-the-by, I was assured, by a man who went to see the "Marie Stuart,"
that this worthy, who enacted the part of Leicester, carried his public
familiarity with Queen Elizabeth to such lengths as to nudge her with
his elbow on some particular occasion. Don't you think that was nice?

Mrs. Grote and I have had sundry small encounters, and I think I
perceive that, had I leisure to cultivate her acquaintance more
thoroughly, I should like her very much. The other evening, at her own
house, she nearly killed me with laughing, by assuring me that she had
always had a perfect passion for dancing, and that she had entirely
missed her vocation, which ought to have been that of an opera-dancer;
(now, Harriet, she looks like nothing but Trelawney in petticoats.) I
suppose this is the secret of her great delight in Ellsler.

I find, in an old letter of yours that I was reading over this morning,
this short question: "Does imagination make a fair balance, in
heightening our pains and our pleasures?" That would depend, I suppose,
upon whether we had as many pleasures as pains (real ones, I mean) to be
colored by it; but as the mere possession of an imaginative temperament
is in itself a more fertile source of unreal pains than pleasures, the
answer may be short too; an imaginative mind has almost always a
tendency to be a melancholy one. Shakespeare is the glorious exception
to this, but then he is an exception to everything. I must bid you
good-bye now....

God bless you, dear.

                              Ever your affectionate,

    [After seeing Mademoiselle Rachel, as I subsequently did, in all her
    great parts, and as often as I had an opportunity of doing so, the
    impression she has left upon my mind is that of the greatest
    dramatic genius, except Kean, who was not greater, and the most
    incomparable dramatic artist I ever saw. The qualities I have
    mentioned as predominating in her performances still appear to me to
    have been their most striking ones; but her expressions of
    tenderness, though rare, were perfect--one instance of which was the
    profound pathos of the short exclamation, "_Oh, mon cher, Curiace!_"
    that precedes her fainting fit of agony in "Camille," and the whole
    of the last scene of "Marie Stuart," in which she excelled Madame
    Ristori as much in pathetic tenderness as she surpassed her in
    power, in the famous scene of defiance to Elizabeth. As for any
    comparison between her and that beautiful woman and charming
    actress, or her successor on the French stage of the present day,
    Mademoiselle Sarah Bernhardt, I do not admit any such for a moment.]

                                            Bannisters, July 28th, 1841.

You certainly have not thought that I was never going to write to you
again, but I dare say you have wondered when I should ever write to you
again. This seems a very fitting place whence to address you, who are so
affectionately associated with the recollection of the last happy days I
spent here.

How vain is the impatience of despondency! How wise, as well as how
pleasant, it is to hope! Not that all can who would; but I verily
believe that the hopeful are the wisest as well as the happiest of this
mortal congregation; for, in spite of the credulous distrust of the
desponding, the accomplishment of our wishes awaits us in the future
quite as often as their defeat, and the cheerful faithful spirit of
those who can hope has the promise of this life as well as of that which
is to come.

At the end of four years, here I am again with my dear friend Emily,
even in this lovely home of hers, from which a doom, ever at hand, has
threatened to expel her every day of these four years.... In spite of
separation, distance, time, and the event which stands night and day at
her door, threatening to drive her forth from this beloved home, here we
are again together, enjoying each other's fellowship in these familiar
beautiful scenes: walking, driving, riding, and living together, as we
have twice been permitted to do before, as we are now allowed to do
again, to the confusion of all the depressing doubts which have
prevented this fair prospect from ever rising before my eyes with the
light of hope upon it--so little chance did there seem of its ever being

Emily and I rode to Netley Abbey yesterday, and looked at the pillar on
which your name and ours were engraved with so many tears before my last
return to America. If I had had a knife, I would have rewritten the
record, at least deepened it; but, indeed, it seems of little use to do
so while the soft, damp breath of the air suffices to efface it from the
stone, and while every stone of the beautiful ruin is a memento to each
one of us of the other two, and the place will be to all time haunted by
our images, and by thoughts as vivid as bodily presences to the eyes of
whichever of us may be there without the others....

Our plans are assuming very definite shape, and you will probably be
glad to hear that there is every prospect of our spending another year
in England, inasmuch as we are at this moment in treaty for a house
which we think of taking with my father for that time. My sister has
concluded an extremely agreeable and advantageous engagement with Covent
Garden, for a certain number of nights, at a very handsome salary. This
is every way delightful to me; it keeps her in England, among her
friends, and in the exercise of her profession; it places her where she
will meet with respect and kindness, both from the public and the
members of the profession with whom she will associate. Covent Garden is
in some measure our vantage-ground, and I am glad that she should thence
make her first appeal to an English audience.

Our new house (if we get it) is in Harley Street, close to Cavendish
Square, and has a room for you, of course, dearest Harriet; and you will
come and see my sister's first appearance, and stay with me next winter,
as you did last. Our more immediate plans stand thus: we leave this
sweet and dear place, to our great regret, to-morrow; to-morrow night
and part of Thursday we spend at Addleston with my brother; then we
remain in town till Monday, when we go to the Hoo (Lord Dacre's); then
we return to town, and afterwards proceed to Mrs. Arkwright's at Sutton,
and then to the Francis Egertons', at Worsley; and after that we set off
for Germany, where we think of remaining till the end of September.
Adelaide's engagement at Covent Garden begins in November, when you must
come and assist in bringing her out properly. God bless you, dear. Give
my love to Dorothy, and believe me

                              Ever affectionately yours,

                                    THE HOO, Wednesday, July 28th, 1841.

I wrote you a long letter yesterday, which was no sooner finished than I
tore it up.... We came down to this place yesterday. I obtained Lady
Dacre's leave to bring my sister, and of course I have my children with
me, so we are here in great force. Independently of my long regard for
and gratitude to Lord and Lady Dacre, which made me glad to visit them,
I like this old place, and find it pleasant, though it has no
pretensions to be a fine one. Some part of the offices is Saxon, of an
early date, old enough to be interesting. The house itself, however, is
comparatively modern: it is a square building, and formerly enclosed a
large courtyard, but in later days the open space has been filled up
with a fine oak staircase (roofed in with a skylight), the carving of
which is old and curious and picturesque. The park is not large, but has
some noble trees, which you would delight in; the flower-garden, stolen
from a charming old wood (some of the large trees of which are coaxed
into its boundaries), is a lovely little strip of velvet lawn, dotted
all over with flower-beds, like large nosegays dropped on the turf; and
the rough, whitey-brown, weather-beaten stone of the house is covered
nearly to the top windows with honeysuckle and jasmine. It is not at all
like what is called a fine place; it is not even as pretty and cheerful
as Bannisters: but it has an air of ancient stability and dignity,
without pretension or ostentation, that is very agreeable....

We left my father tolerably well in health, but a good deal shaken in
spirits.... I am expected downstairs, to read to them in the
drawing-room something from Shakespeare; and our afternoon is promised
to a cricket-match, for the edification of one of our party, who never
saw one. I must therefore conclude.... Good-bye, dearest Harriet. As for
me, to be once more in pure air, among flowers and under trees, is
all-sufficient happiness. I do cordially hate all towns.

Give my dear love to Mrs. Harry Siddons, if she is near you, and tell
her I shall surely not leave Europe without seeing her again, let her be
where she will. Remember me affectionately to Dorothy, and believe me.

                              Ever yours,

                                     THE HOO, Thursday, July 29th, 1841.

I wrote to you yesterday, but an unanswered letter of yours lies on the
top of my budget of "letters to answer," and I take it up to reply to
it. The life I am leading does not afford much to say; yet that is not
quite true, for to loving hearts or thinking minds the common events of
every day, in the commonest of lives, have a meaning.... After breakfast
yesterday we took up Lady Dacre's translations from Petrarch--a very
admirable performance, in which she has contrived to bend our northern
utterance into a most harmonious and yet conscientious interpretation
of those perfect Italian compositions. My sister read the Italian,
which, with her pure pronunciation and clear ringing voice, sounded
enchanting; after which I echoed it with the English translation; all
which went on very prosperously, till I came to that touching invocation
written on Good Friday, when the poet, no longer offering incense to his
mortal idol, but penitential supplications to his God, implores pardon
for the waste of life and power his passion had betrayed him into, and
seeks for help to follow higher aims and holier purposes; a pathetic and
solemn composition, which vibrated so deeply upon kindred chords in my
heart that my voice became choked, and I could not read any more. After
this, Adelaide read us some Wordsworth, for which she has a special
admiration; after which, having recovered my voice, I took up "Romeo and
Juliet," for which we all have a special admiration; and so the morning
passed. After lunch, we went, B----, Lord Dacre, and I on horseback,
Lady Dacre, Adelaide, and G---- S---- in the open carriage, to a pretty
village seven miles off, where a cricket-match was being played, into
the mysteries of which some of us particularly wished to be initiated.

The village of Hitchin is full of Quakers, and I rather think the game
was being played by them, for such a silent meeting I never saw, out of
a Friends' place of worship. But the ride was beautiful, and the day
exquisite; and I learned for the first time that clematis is called, in
this part of England, "traveller's joy," which name returned upon my
lips, like a strain of music, at every moment, so full of poetry and
sweet and touching association does it seem to me. Do you know it by
that name in Ireland? I never heard it before in England, though I have
been familiar with another pretty nickname for it, which you probably
know--virgin's-bower. This is all very well for its flowering season; I
wish somebody would find a pretty name for it when it is all covered
with blown glass or soap-bubbles, and looks at a little distance like

Returning home, after entering the park, Lord Dacre had left us to go
and look at a turnip-field, and B---- and I started for a gallop; when
my horse, a powerful old hunter, not very well curbed, and extremely
hard-mouthed, receiving some lively suggestion from the rhythmical
sound of his own hoofs on the turf, put his head down between his legs
and tore off with me at the top of his speed. I knew there was a tallish
hedge in the direction in which we were going, and, as it is full seven
years since I sat a leap, I also knew that there was a fair chance of my
being chucked off, if he took it, which I thought I knew he would; so I
lay back in my saddle and sawed at his mouth and pulled _de corps et
a'âne_, but in vain. I lost my breath, I lost my hat, and shouted at the
top of my voice to B---- to stop, which I thought if she did, my steed,
whose spirit had been roused by emulation, would probably do too. She
did not hear me, but fortunately stopped her horse before we reached the
hedge, when my quadruped halted of his own sweet will, with a bound on
all fours, or off all fours, that sent me half up to the sky; but I came
back into my saddle without leap, without tumble, and with only my
ignoble fright for my pains.

We dine at half-past seven, after which we generally have music and
purse-making and discussions, poetical and political, and wine and water
and biscuits, and go to bed betimes, like wise folk....

This morning a bloodhound was brought me from the dog-kennel, the
largest dog of his kind, and the handsomest of any kind, that I ever
saw; his face and ears were exquisite, his form and color magnificent,
his voice appalling, and the expression of his countenance the
tenderest, sweetest, and saddest you can conceive; I cannot imagine a
more beautiful brute. After admiring him we went to the stables, to see
a new horse Lord Dacre has just bought, and I left him being put through
his paces, to come and indite this letter to you....

We leave this place on Monday for London, at the thought of which I feel
half choked with smoke already. The Friday after, however, we go into
the country again, to the Arkwrights' and the Francis Egertons', and
then to Germany; so that our lungs and nostrils will be tolerably free
passages for vital air for some little time.

God bless you, dearest Harriet. I have filled my letter with such matter
as I had--too much with myself, perhaps, for any one but you; but unless
I write you an epic poem about King Charlemagne, I know not well what
else to write about here.

                              Ever affectionately yours,

                                      THE HOO, Sunday, August 1st, 1841.

I wrote you the day before yesterday, and gave you a sort of journal of
that day's proceedings. I have nothing of any different interest to tell
you, inasmuch as our daily proceedings here are much of a muchness.

We return to town to-morrow afternoon, to my great regret; and I must,
immediately upon our doing so, remove the family to our new abode. I am
rather anxious to see how my father is; we left him in very low spirits,
... and I am anxious to see whether he has recovered them at all. I
think our visit to Sutton, where we go on Friday, will be of use to him;
for though he cordially dislikes the country and everything belonging to
its unexciting existence, he has always had a very great attachment for
Mrs. Arkwright, and perhaps, for so short a time as a week, he may be
able to resist the ennui of _l'innocence des champs_....

I am well, and have been enjoying myself extremely. I love the country
for itself; and the species of life which combines, as these people lead
it, the pleasures of the highest civilization with the wholesome
enjoyments which nature abounds in seems to me the perfection of
existence, and is always beneficial as well as delightful to me. I rode
yesterday a fine new horse Lord Dacre has just bought, and who is to be
christened Forester, in honor of my beloved American steed, whom he
somewhat resembles....

Considering our weather down here in Hertfordshire, I am afraid you must
have most dismal skies at Ambleside, where you are generally so misty
and damp; I am sure I recollect no English summer like this. As for poor
Adelaide, she is all but frozen to death, and creeps about, lamenting
for the sun, in a most piteous fashion imaginable.

I have had a letter from Cecilia Combe within the last two days,
anticipating meeting us on the Rhine, either at Godesberg, where she now
is, or at Bonn, where she expects to pass some time soon. She complains
of dulness, but accuses the weather, which she says is horrible.
By-the-by, of Cecy and Mr. Combe I have now got the report containing
the account of Laura Bridgman (the deaf, dumb, and blind girl of whom he
speaks), and when you come to me you shall see it; it is marvellous--a
perfect miracle of Christian love.

Catherine Sedgwick's book (some notes of her visit to Europe) has just
come out, and I am reading it again, having read the manuscript journal
when first she returned home; a record, of course, of far more interest
than the pruned and pared version of it which she gives to the public. I
am also reading an excellent article in the last _Edinburgh_, on the
society of Port Royal, which I find immensely interesting. I must now
run out for a walk. It is Sunday, and the horses are not used, and I
must acquire some exercise, through the agency of my own legs, before
dinner. I have walked two miles this morning, to be sure; but that was
to and from church, and should not count. God bless you, dearest

                              Ever yours,

                                     LIÈGE, Thursday, August 26th, 1841.

We have just returned from a lionizing drive about Liège, a city of
which my liveliest impressions, before I saw it, were derived from
Scott's novel of "Quentin Durward," and in which the part now remaining
of what existed in his time is all that much interests me.

I do not know whether in your peregrinations you ever visited this
place; if you did, I hope you duly admired the palace of the prince
bishop (formerly), now the Palais de Justice, which is one of the most
picturesque remnants of ancient architecture I have seen in this land of

Except this, and one fine old church, I have found nothing in the town
to please or interest me much. I have seen one or two old dog-holes of
houses, blackened and falling in with age, which seem as if they might
be some of the cinders of Charles the Bold's burnings hereabouts. We
left Brussels this morning, after spending a day and a half there. I was
much pleased with the gay and cheerful appearance of that small
imitation Paris, even to the degree of fancying that I should like to
live there, in spite of the supercilious sentence of vulgarity,
stupidity, and pretension which some of our friends, diplomatic
residents there, passed upon the inhabitants.... We went to call upon
the ----s, and, with something of a shock on my part, found one of the
ornaments of his sitting-room a large crucifix with the Saviour in his
death-agony--a horrible image, which I would banish, if I could, from
every artist's imagination; for the physical suffering is a revolting
spectacle which art should not portray, and the spiritual triumph is a
thing which the kindred soul of man may indeed conceive, but which art
cannot delineate, for it is God, and not to be translated into matter,
save indeed where it once was made manifest in that Face and Person
every imaginary representation of which is to me more or less

The face of Christ is never painted or sculptured without being
painfully offensive to me; yet I have seen looks--who has not?--that
were His, momentarily, on mortal faces; but they were looks that could
not have been copied, even there....

These steamship and railroad times will do away with that staple idea,
both in real and literary romances, of "never meeting again," "parting
forever," etc., etc.; and people will now meet over and over again, no
matter by what circumstances parted, or to what distance thrown from
each other; whence I draw the moral that our conduct in all the quarters
of the globe had better be as decent as possible, for there is no such
thing nowadays as losing sight of people or places--I mean, for any
convenient length of time, for purposes of forgetfulness. I forget
whether, when you left us in London, my father had come to the
determination of not accompanying but following us, which he intends
doing as soon as he feels well enough to travel.

Rubens's paintings have given us extreme delight.... I was much
interested by the lace-works at Brussels and Mechlin, and very painfully
so. It is beginning to be time, I think, in Christian countries, for
manufactures of mere luxury to be done away with, when proficiency in
the merest mechanical drudgery involved in them demands a lifetime, and
the sight and health of women, who begin this twilight work at five and
six years old, are often sacrificed long before their natural term to
this costly and unhealthy industry.

I hope to see all such manufactures done away with, for they are bad
things, and a whole moral and intelligent being, turned into ten
fingers' ends for such purposes, is a sad spectacle. I (a
lace-worshipper, if ever woman was) say this advisedly; I am sorry there
is still Mechlin and Brussels lace made, and glad there is no more
India muslin, and rejoice in the disuse of every minute manual labor
which tends to make a mere machine of God's likeness. But oh, for all
that, how incomparably inferior is the finest, faultless, machine-made
lace and muslin to the exquisite irregularity of the human fabric!...
Good-bye, my dearest Harriet. We start for Aix-la-Chapelle at eight
to-morrow. I am not in very good strength; the fact is, I am now never
in thoroughly good plight without exercise on horseback, and it is a
long time since I have had any, and, of course, it is now quite out of
the question. I beg, desire, entreat, and command that you will
immediately get and read Balzac's "Eugénie Grandet," and tell me
instantly what you think of it.

                              Your affectionate

                                     WIESBADEN, Friday, September, 1841.

Walking along the little brook-side on the garden path under the trees
towards the Sonnenberg, you may well imagine how vividly your image and
that of Catherine Sedgwick were present to me. You took this walk
together, and it was from her lively description of it that I knew, the
moment I set my feet in the path, both where I was and where I was
going. That walk is very pretty. I did not follow it to the end, because
my children were with me, and it was too far for them; but yesterday I
went to the ruin on horseback, and came home along the rough cart-road,
on the hill on the other side of the valley, whence the views reminded
me somewhat of the country round Lenox, in Massachusetts, though not
perhaps of the prettiest part of the latter.

I have not yet in my travels seen anything much more picturesque than
the prettiest parts of the American Berkshire; and upon the whole
(castles, of course, excepted) was rather disappointed in the Rhine,
which is not, I think, as beautiful a river as the Hudson. Knowing the
powerful charm of affectionate association, and the halo which happiness
throws over any place where we attain to something approaching it, I
have sometimes suspected that my admiration of and delight in that Lenox
and Stockbridge scenery was derived in some measure from those sources,
and that the country round them is not in reality as beautiful as it
always appears in my eyes and to my memory. But, comparing it now with
scenery admired by the travelling taste of all Europe, I am satisfied
that the American scenery I am so fond of is intrinsically lovely, and
compares very favorably with everything I have seen hitherto on the

As for your friend Anne (my children's American nurse), coming up the
Rhine she sat looking at the shores, her brown eyes growing rounder and
rounder, and her handsome face full of as much good-humored contempt as
it could express, every now and then exclaiming, "Well, to be sure, it's
a pretty river, and it's well enough; but my! they hadn't need to make
such a fuss about it." The fact is, that the noble breadth of the river
forms one of its most striking features to a European, and this, you
know, is no marvel to "us of the new world." Moreover, I suspect Anne
does not consider the baronial castles "of much 'count," either; and, to
confess the truth, I am rather disturbed at the little emotion produced
in me by the romantic ruins and picturesque accompaniments of the Rhine.
But it seems to me that I am losing much of my excitability; my
imagination has become disgracefully tame, and I find myself here, where
I have most desired to be, with a mind chiefly intent upon where, when,
how, and on what my children can dine, and feelings principally occupied
with the fact that I have no one with me to sympathize in any other
thought or emotion if I should attempt to indulge in such.

We arrived at Coblentz one melting summer afternoon, and I walked up to
the top of the fortress alone, and the setting of the sun over beyond
the lands and rivers at my feet, and the uprising of the moon above, the
bristling battlements behind me, filled me with delight; but I had no
one to express it to.

This evening at Ehrenbreitstein, and the cathedral at Cologne, are my
two events hitherto; the only two things that have stirred or affected
me much. That cathedral is a whole liturgy in stone--eloquent, devout
stone,--uttering so solemnly its great unfinished God-service of silent
prayer and praise through all these centuries. I have seen many
beautiful churches, but was never impressed by any as by this huge
fragment of one.

My father, as I have written you, stayed behind, saying that he would
follow us. He has not done so yet, and I do not expect that he will, for
reasons which I will not repeat, as I gave them to you in a long letter
which I wrote to you from Liège, which I heartily hope you have

    [On arriving at Coblentz on a brilliant afternoon, so much of lovely
    daylight yet remained that I was most desirous to cross the river
    and ascend the great fortress of the Broad Stone of Honor, to see
    the sunset from its walls. I could not inspire anybody else with the
    same zeal, however; and, under the combined influence of
    disappointment and eager curiosity, started alone, at a brisk walk,
    and, crossing the bridge, began the ascent, and, gradually
    quickening my pace as I neared the summit, arrived, on a full run,
    breathless before the sentinel who guarded the last gates and
    amiably shook his head at my attempt to enter. The gates were open,
    and I saw, across the wide parade-ground, or _place d'armes_, where
    groups of soldiers were standing and loitering about, the parapet
    wall of the fortress, whence I had hoped to see the day go down over
    the Rhine, the Moselle, and all the glorious region round their
    confluence. "Oh, _do_ let me in," cried I in very emphatic English
    to the sentry, who gravely shook his head. "Where is your father?"
    quoth he in German, as I made imploring and impatient gestures,
    significant of my despair at the idea of having had that stupendous
    climb all for nothing. "I have none," cried I, in English and French
    all in a breath. Both were equally Greek to him. He gravely shook
    his head. "Where is your husband?" quoth he in German, to which I
    replied in German--oh, such German!--that "I had none, that I was a
    woman" (which he probably saw), "only a woman, an Englishwoman"
    (which he probably heard), "and that I could do no harm to his
    fortress; that I had come all alone, and run half the way up, and
    that I could not turn back, and he _must_ let me in!" He still shook
    his head gravely. I had the tears in my eyes, and felt ready to cry
    with vexation. Just then an officer approaching the gates from
    within, I addressed my eager supplications in sputtering, stuttering
    fragments of German, French, and English to him; and he, laughing
    good-naturedly, gave the sentinel the order to admit me; when I made
    straight across the great parade-ground, surrounded with the masses
    of the huge fortification, to the low parapet wall, whence I beheld
    the glorious landscape I had hoped to see, bathed in the sunset--a
    vision of splendor, which surpassed even what I had expected, as I
    looked down from the dizzy height, over the magnificent river and
    its beautiful tributary, and all the near and distant landscape,
    melting far away into golden vapory indistinctness. I did not dare
    to stay long, having to return again alone; so, thanking my kind
    conductor, who had evidently enjoyed my ecstasy at the beauty of his
    _Vaterland_, I left the fortress, stopping again at the gate to ask
    the name of my friendly sentinel whose resistance to my impetuous
    storming of the fort had been as mild and gentle as was consistent
    with his resolute refusal to admit me. Having not a scrap of paper
    with me, I wrote his name with my pencil on my glove, determined,
    when I returned through Coblentz, to bring him some token of my
    gratitude for his patient forbearance; and so I ran all the way down
    and back to the hotel.

    On our return, some weeks after, we visited Ehrenbreitstein with all
    the decorous solemnity of decent sight-seeing travellers; and, one
    of a party of four, I drove in state, in an open carriage, up the
    formidable approach that I had scaled so vehemently before. Duly
    armed with admits and permits, and all proper justifications of our
    approach, we drove under the huge archway, where stood another
    sentinel, and were received with courteous ceremony by some military
    gentlemen, under whose escort I leisurely went over the scene of my
    first visit, standing again, in more dignified enthusiasm, at the
    parapet where I had panted before in the breathless excitement of my
    run up the hill, my fight with the sentry, and my victory over him.
    Now, having been duly led and conducted and ushered and escorted all
    round, as we were about to depart, I begged, as a favor of the
    commanding officer, to be allowed to see again my friendly sentinel,
    for whom I had brought up a meerschaum of a pretty pattern that I
    had bought for him. "What was his name?" "Schneider." "Oh, there are
    several so called among the men. Should you know him again?" "Oh
    yes, indeed." And now ensued a general cry for Schneiders to present
    themselves. One after another was marched up, but without any
    resemblance to my friendly foe. Presently a word of command was
    given, followed by a brisk rolling of drums, when all the men came
    pouring out of the surrounding buildings, and formed in ranks on the
    ground. "You have seen them all--all the Schneiders," said the
    kindly commandant. "Ah, no! here is yet one;" and from the back
    ranks was pushed and pulled and thrust and shoved, perfectly crimson
    with shyness and suppressed laughter, one of the handsomest lads I
    ever saw. "Is this your man?" said the commanding officer, with a
    profound bow, and his face puckered up with laughing. "No," cried I
    (for it wasn't), quite overcome with confusion and the general
    laughter that followed the production of this last of the
    Schneiders. One of the officers then said that some of the troops
    had been sent elsewhere, not long after my first visit. "Ah, then,"
    said the commandant, who had interested himself in my search with
    considerable amusement, "your Schneider, madame, has left
    Ehrenbreitstein." And so did we; I, not a little disappointed at not
    having seen again the worthy man who had not bayoneted me away from
    the gates, when I assailed them and him in such a frenzy.]

We overtook my sister at Mayence, or rather, I and the children remained
there, while some of our party went on to Frankfort, where she was. They
returned to Mayence in a body: ----, Adelaide, Henry, Miss Cottin, Mary
Anne Thackeray, our London friend Chorley, and the illustrious Liszt.
Travelling leisurely, as we were compelled to do on account of the
children, I missed, to my great regret, my sister's first two public
performances--a concert, and a representation of Norma, which she gave
at Frankfort, and of which everybody spoke with the greatest enthusiasm.
On the evening of the day when she joined us at Mayence, she sang at a
concert, and this was the first time that I really have heard her sing
in public; for I did not consider the concert at Stafford House a fair
test of her powers--the audience was too limited, in number and quality,
to deserve the name of a public. The sweetness and freshness of her
voice struck me more than ever, but it appears to me rather wanting in
power; and the same impression was produced upon me when I heard her
sing in the Kursaal here. If there should be deficiency of power in the
voice, it will, I fear, affect her success in so large a theatre as
Covent Garden.... She sings Norma again to-night at Mayence, and I am
going--of course without any anxiety, for her success is already
established here; and with great anticipations of pleasure--more even,
if possible, from her acting than her singing; for the latter I am
already familiar with, but of the former I have no experience, and have
always entertained the greatest expectations of it, and I think I shall
not be disappointed.

We have obtained very pleasant apartments here, and I have established
Anne and the children quite comfortably; they were beginning to suffer
from the perpetual moving about, and I shall let them remain undisturbed
here, during the rest of our stay in Germany, and shall either stay
quietly with them, or accompany my sister, if it is determined that we
are to do so, to the places of her various engagements.

Since writing the above, I have seen my sister act Norma, and her
performance fully equalled my expectation; which is great praise, for I
have always had the highest opinion of her dramatic powers, and was, as
I believe you know, earnest with her at one time to leave the opera
stage and become an actress in her own language, as I was very sure of
her entire success, and thought it a better and higher order of thing
than this mere uttering of sound, and perpetual representation of
passion and emotion, comparatively unmixed with intellect. To be sure,
that would be to sacrifice some of her fine natural endowments, and the
art and science of music, in which she has, at so much cost of time and
labor, so thoroughly perfected herself, and which is in itself so
exquisite a thing.... Her carriage is good, easy, and unembarrassed; her
gestures and use of her arms remarkably graceful and appropriate. There
is very little too much action, and that which appears to me redundant
may simply seem so because her conception of the character is, in some
of its parts, impulsive, where it strikes me as concentrated, and would
therefore be sterner and stiller in its effect than she occasionally
makes it. But she has evidently thought over the whole most carefully,
considered the effects she intends to produce, and the means of
producing them; and it is a far more finished performance, without any
of the special defects which I should have expected in so great a
lyrical tragic part, given by so young an artist. I suspect, however,
that the severely mechanical element in music renders certainty in the
performer's intentions necessary beforehand, to a much greater degree
than in a merely dramatic performance; and thus a singer can seldom do
the things which an actor sometimes does, upon the sudden inspiration
of the moment, occasionally producing thus extraordinary effects. Some
of the things my sister did were perfect--I speak now of her acting:
they were as fine as some of Pasta's great effects, and her whole
performance reminded me forcibly of that finest artist. I cannot help
thinking, however, that she is cramped by the music, and I confess I
should like to see her act Bianca without singing it, as I am satisfied
that she would represent most admirably all characters of power and
passion, and find in the great dramatic compositions of our stage, and
especially in Shakespeare's plays, scope for her capacity which Italian
operas cannot afford.

Her voice is not as powerful as I expected, nor as I think it would have
been if she had not striven to acquire artificial compass; that is, high
notes which were not originally in her natural register,--the great aim
of all singers being to sing the highest music, which is always that of
the principal female character. The consequence of this is sometimes
that the quality of the natural voice is in a measure sacrificed to the
acquisition of notes not originally within its compass....

I have room for no more, dearest Harriet. Good-bye, and God bless you.

                              Ever affectionately yours,

I wrote you an interminable letter from Liège. Did you ever get it?

    [The time we spent on the Rhine during this summer afforded me an
    opportunity of almost intimate acquaintance with the celebrated
    musician who had persuaded my sister to associate herself with him
    in the concerts he gave at the principal places on the Rhine where
    we stopped.

    Our whole expedition partook more of the character of a party of
    pleasure than a business speculation; and though Liszt's and my
    sister's musical performances were professional exhibitions of the
    highest order, the relations of our whole party were those of the
    friendliest and merriest tourists and _compagnons de voyage_.
    Nothing could exceed the charm of our delightful travelling through
    that lovely scenery, and sojourning in those pleasant picturesque
    antique towns, where the fine concerts of our two artists enchanted
    us even more, from personal sympathy, than the most enthusiastic
    audiences who thronged to hear them.

    Liszt was at this time a young man, in the very perfection of his
    extraordinary talent, and at the height of his great celebrity. He
    was extremely handsome; his features were finely chiselled, and the
    expression of his face, especially when under the inspiration of
    playing, strikingly grand and commanding.

    Of all the pianists that I have ever heard, and I have heard all the
    most celebrated of my time, he was undoubtedly the first for fire,
    power, and brilliancy of execution. His style, which was strictly
    original, and an innovation upon all that had preceded it, may be
    called the "Sturm und Drang," or seven-leagued-boot style of playing
    on the piano; and in listening to him, it was difficult to believe
    that he had no more than the average number of fingers, or that they
    were of the average length,--but that, indeed, they were not; he had
    stretched his hands like a pair of kid gloves, and accomplished the
    most incredible distances, while executing, in the interval between
    them, inconceivable musical feats with his three middle fingers.
    None of his musical contemporaries, Moscheles, Mendelssohn, Chopin,
    nor his more immediate rival, Thalberg, ever produced anything like
    the volcanic sort of musical effect which he did, perfect eruptions,
    earthquakes, tornadoes of sound, such as I never heard any piano
    utter but under his touch. But though he was undoubtedly a more
    amazing performer than any I ever listened to, his peculiar
    eccentricities were so inextricably interwoven with the whole mode
    and manner of his performances that, in spite of the many imitators
    they have inspired, he could by no means be regarded as the founder
    of anything deserving the name of a school of piano-playing. M.
    Rubinstein, I presume, in our own day, represents Liszt's peculiar
    genius better than any one else.

    The close, concise, crowded, and somewhat crabbed style of the great
    learned musical school of the Bachs, which may almost be called the
    algebra or geometry of musical composition, at any rate its higher
    mathematics, had certainly challenged a spirit of the most daring
    contrast in the young Hungarian prodigy, who electrified Paris, and
    carried its severe body of classical critics by storm, with the
    triumphant audacity of his brilliant and powerful style. Liszt
    became, at the very opening of his career, so immediately a miracle,
    and then an oracle, in the artistic and the great world of Paris
    that he was allowed to impose his own terms upon its judgment; and
    suffering himself the worst consequences of that order of success,
    he achieved too early a fame for his permanent reputation. A want of
    sobriety, a fantastical seeking after strange effects--in short, the
    characteristics of artistic _charlatanerie_--mixed themselves up
    with all that he did, and, as is inevitably the case, deteriorated
    the fine original gifts of his genius. When I first heard him, he
    had already reached the furthest limit of his powers, because they
    were exerted in a mistaken direction; and the exaggeration and false
    taste which were covered by his marvellous facility and strength
    gradually became more and more predominant in his performances, and
    turned them almost into caricatures of the first wonderful specimens
    of ability with which he had amazed the musical world.

    He could not go on being forever more astonishing than he had ever
    been before, and he paid the penalty of having made that his
    principal aim. His execution and composition alike became by degrees
    incoherent acrobatism, in which all that could call itself art was a
    mere combination of extraordinary and all but grotesque
    difficulties, devised for the sole purpose of overcoming them;
    musical convulsions and contortions, that forever recalled Dr.
    Johnson's epigram.

    In the summer of 1842 Liszt was but on the edge of this descent; his
    genius, his youth, his personal beauty, and the vivid charm of his
    manner and conversation had made him the idol of society, as well as
    of the artistic world, and he was then radiant with the fire of his
    great natural gifts, and dazzling with the success that had crowned
    them; he was a brilliant creature....

    After this I never saw Liszt again until the summer of 1870. I had
    gone to the theatre at Munich, where I was staying, to hear Wagner's
    opera of the "Rheingold," with my daughter and her husband. We had
    already taken our places, when S---- exclaimed to me, "There is
    Liszt." The increased age, the clerical dress, had effected but
    little change in the striking general appearance, which my daughter
    (who had never seen him since 1842, when she was quite a child)
    recognized immediately. I went round to his box, and, recalling
    myself to his memory, begged him to come to ours, and let me
    present my daughter to him; he very good-naturedly did so, and the
    next day called upon us at our hotel, and sat with us a long

    His conversation on matters of art (Wagner's music, which he and we
    had listened to the evening before) and literature was curiously
    cautious and guarded, and every expression of opinion given with
    extreme reserve, instead of the uncompromising fearlessness of his
    earlier years; and the abbé was indeed quite another from the Liszt
    of our summer on the Rhine of 1842.

    Liszt never composed any very good music; arrangement of the music
    of others was his specialty; and his versions of Schubert's,
    Weber's, and Mozart's finest melodies for the piano were the _ne
    plus ultra_ of brilliant and powerful adaptation, but required his
    own rendering to produce their full effect; and by far the most
    extraordinary exhibition of skill I ever heard on the piano was his
    performance of the airs from the Don Giovanni, arranged by himself.
    His literary style had the same qualities and defects as his music:
    brilliancy and picturesqueness, and an absence of genuineness and
    simplicity. He wrote a great deal of musical criticism, and an
    interesting life of Chopin.

    His conversation was sparkling and dazzling, and full of startling
    paradoxes; he had considerable power of sarcastic repartee, and once
    or twice is reported to have encountered the imperious queen of
    Austrian society, Madame de Metternich, with her own weapons, very

    She patronized Thalberg, and affected to depreciate Liszt; but
    having invited them both to her house on one occasion, thought
    proper to address the latter with some impertinent questions about a
    professional visit he had just been paying to Paris, winding up
    with, "Enfin, avez-vous fait de bonnes affaires là-bas?" To which he
    replied, "Pardon, Madame la Princesse, j'ai fait un peu de musique;
    je laisse les affaires aux banquiers et aux diplomates." Later in
    the evening, the lady, probably not well pleased with this rebuff,
    accosted him again, as he stood talking to Thalberg, with a sneering
    compliment on his apparent freedom from all jealousy of his musical
    rival; to which Liszt, who was very sallow, replied, "Mais, Madame
    la Princesse, au contraire, je suis furieusement jaloux de
    Thalberg; regardez donc les jolies couleurs qu'il a!" After which
    Madame la Princesse _le laissa en paix_.

    Between Thalberg and Liszt I do not think there could be any
    comparison. The exquisite perfection of delicate accuracy, combined
    with extraordinary lightness and velocity of execution, of Thalberg
    was his one unapproachable excellence, and as near the unerring
    precision of mere mechanism as possible: it was absolutely
    faultless; but it paid the penalty for being what things human may
    not be--it wanted the human element of passion and pathos. His
    performance was a miracle of art, and left his admiring auditors
    pleasingly amazed, but untouched in any of the deeper chords of
    sympathetic emotion. He had not a spark of the original genius or
    fire of Liszt. Moscheles, whom I have only named with the other two
    because he was a highly popular performer at the same time, was a
    more solid musician than either of them, and infinitely inferior as
    an executant to both. He was the most excellent of teachers, for
    which valuable office Thalberg would have wanted some and Liszt all
    the necessary qualifications. Of Chopin it is useless to speak:
    exceptional in his artistic nature and in his circumstances, he
    played his own most poetical music as no one else could; though his
    friend Dessauer, who was not a professional player at all, gave a
    most curious and satisfactory imitation of his mode of rendering his
    own compositions. But between Chopin and any other musical composer
    or performer there was never anything in common; he was original and
    unique in both characters.

    As for Mendelssohn, the organ was his real instrument, though he
    played very finely on the piano. He was not, however, a pre-eminent
    performer, but a composer of music; and I should no more think of
    comparing the quality of his genius with that of Liszt, than I
    should compare the Roman girandola with its sky-scaring fusees and
    myriads of sudden scintillations and dazzling coruscations, with the
    element that lights our homes and warms our hearths, or to the
    steadfast shining of the everlasting stars themselves.

    Of all the pianoforte players by whom I have heard Beethoven's music
    more or less successfully rendered, Charles Hallé has always
    appeared to me the one who most perfectly communicated the mind and
    soul of the pre-eminent composer.

    Our temporary fellowship with Liszt procured for us a delightful
    participation in a tribute of admiration from the citizen workmen of
    Coblentz, that was what the French call _saissant_. We were sitting
    all in our hotel drawing-room together, the _maestro_ as usual
    smoking his long pipe, when a sudden burst of music made us throw
    open the window and go out on the balcony, when Liszt was greeted by
    a magnificent chorus of nearly two hundred men's voices; they sang
    to perfection, each with his small sheet of music and his sheltered
    light in his hand, and the performance, which was the only one of
    the sort I ever heard, gave a wonderful impression of the musical
    capacity of the only really musical nation in the world.]

                                           WIESBADEN, Sunday, September.

I have already written to you from this place: one letter I wrote almost
immediately after taking a walk which you had taken with Catherine
Sedgwick, the year that you were here together, towards the Sonnenberg.
You wrote me letters from here too, which I received up at Lenox, and
read at a window looking out over a landscape very much resembling the
neighborhood of this place. I remember your epistolary accounts of
Wiesbaden were not very favorable: you did not like its watering-place
aspect and fashions; and neither should I, if I was in any way mixed up
with them. But we have hitherto none of us taken the waters; we have
pretty and comfortable rooms, with the slight drawback of hearing our
neighbors washing their hands and brushing their teeth, and drawing the
natural conclusion as to the reciprocity of communications we make to
them. We are at the Quatre Saisons, and with nothing but the Kursaal and
its arcades between us and the gardens; so I am not oppressed with the
feeling of a town, streets, houses, shops, etc., all which lie at my
back and are never by any accident approached by me....

I have gone into the baths merely by way of what the French call
_propreté_, being too lazy to go and fetch a wash under the arcade, in
_de l'eau naturelle_. The water which supplies the baths in the Quatre
Saisons is not by any means as strong as the _Kochbrunnen_, yet I
fancied that it affected me unpleasantly, causing me a sensation of
fullness in the head, and nausea, which was very disagreeable, as well
as making me stupidly sleepy through the day....

Last Thursday I went to Frankfort to hear Adelaide sing; she was to
perform, _en costume_, an act from three different operas, a sort of
hotchpotch which, as she cares for her profession, I am surprised at her
condescending to. We were not in time for the first, which was the last
scene of the "Lucia di Lammermoor," but heard her in the last scene of
"Beatrice di Tenda," and in the first scene of the "Norma." ... What she
does is very perfect, but I think she occasionally falls short of the
amount of power that I expected.... And all the time, I cannot help
wishing that she would leave the singing part of the business, and take
to acting not set to music. I think the singing cramps her acting, and I
cannot help having some misgiving as to the effect she will produce in
so large a theatre as Covent Garden; although, as she has sung
successfully in the two largest theatres in Europe, the Scala at Milan
and the San Carlo at Naples, I suppose my nervousness about Covent
Garden is unnecessary.... Her movements and gesture are all remarkably
graceful and easy; she is perfectly self-possessed, and impresses me
even more as an artist than a genius, which I did not expect.

I believe she will not sing to-morrow night, and, in that case, they
will all come over and spend the day here, when Henry, Mary Anne
Thackeray, and I purpose ascending Wiesbaden horses and riding to the
duke's hunting-seat, which perhaps you drove to when you were here....

I confess to you, I cannot help sometimes feeling a little anxious about
my sister's success in England, especially when I remember how
formidable a predecessor she is to succeed--that wonderful Malibran, who
added to such original genius and great dramatic power a voice of such
uncommon force and brilliancy.

Good-bye. This is the third long letter I have written to you since we
came abroad.

                              Ever yours,

                                  AIX-LA-CHAPELLE, Monday, October 11th.

I begin to sniff the well-beloved fogs and coal-smoke of that best
beloved little island to which I have the honor and glory of belonging,
and my spirits are much revived thereby; for, to tell you the truth,
England, bad as it is, is good enough for me, and I am grown old and
stupid and sleepy and don't-carish, and think more about bugs and greasy
food in the way of woe than of vine-clad hills and ruined castles in the
way of bliss. Not that I have been by any means dissatisfied with my
_tower_, though rather disappointed in the one fact of the Rhine: but I
am incurious and always was, and I do not think that fault mends with
age; and knights, squires, and dames too, alas! are no longer to me the
interesting folk that they once were.

    "But it is past, the glory is congealing,
      The fervor of the heart grows dead and dim;
    I gaze all night upon a whitewashed ceiling,
      And catch no glimpses of the Seraphim."

I think the ruins of the German hills especially excellent in that they
are ruins, and can by no possibility ever again be made strongholds of
debauchery, ferocity, and filth; and finally and to conclude, my dear
Harriet, lights and shadows, the colors of the earth and sky, the beauty
of God's creation, in short, alone now moves me very deeply, and this, I
am thankful to say, is as powerful to do so as ever.

I must tell you something pretty and poetical, and which I think has
made more impression upon me than anything else in the course of my
travels. The other evening at Cologne, by the sloping light of a watery
autumnal sunset, the wind blowing loud and strong, the river rolling
fast and free, and the great, violet-colored clouds drooping heavily
down the sky, we suddenly heard the guns along each bank fire
repeatedly, saluting the approach of some greatness or other down the
stream. Whether it was king or kaiser, or only one of the
merchant-princes to whom the navigation of this stream now belongs, and
who receive these honors whenever they go up or down the river, nobody
could tell; and still peal after peal was fired, and one echo rolled
into another from shore to shore. At length a long low boat came in
sight, sweeping down with the wide current towards the city walls. She
was covered from stem to stern with bright flags and pennons, and was
freighted with stone, which the Duke of Hesse-Darmstadt was sending down
from his quarries, to help the people of Cologne to finish their
beautiful cathedral; and as this cargo came along their shores they were
saluting it with royal honors. The crane which was to lift the blocks
from the boat had its great iron arm all wreathed with flowers, and
flags and streamers floating from its top, which peaceful half-religious
jubilee pleased me greatly, and affected me too.

At Cologne, six weeks before, we had seen the King of Hanover, Ernest
Augustus, the wicked Duke of Cumberland, received just in the same way,
except that the cannonading was closed on that occasion, in an
exceedingly appropriate manner to my mind, by a sudden fierce peal of
derisive thunder.

We went, while at Cologne, to the Museum, and there saw another
beautiful thing of another sort, Bendermann's picture of the Jews
weeping by the waters of Babylon--a very striking picture, sad and
harmonious in its coloring, and full of feeling and expression; I was
greatly impressed by it. And thus, you see, from only one of the places
I have visited, I have brought away two living recollections, perpetual
sources of pleasant mental contemplation. Two such treasures in one's
storehouse of memory would have been worth the whole journey; but I have
had many more such, and I incline to think that it is very often in
retrospect that travel is most agreeable--the little annoyances and
hindrances, which often qualify one's pleasure a good deal at the time
one receives it, seldom mix themselves with the recollection of it in
the same vivid manner; and so, as the American widow said she thought it
was a charming thing "to have been married _and be done with it_," I
think it is a charming thing to have been up the Rhine and be back

I forget whether I wrote you word of my father's joining us for a single
day at Frankfort, and then returning immediately to England.... He was
not at all well, and the hurried journey was, I fear, a most imprudent
one. My sister is at present at Liège with Henry, Liszt, and our friend

Good-bye, my dearest H----.

                              I am ever yours,

    [My friend Miss S---- came to us in London, and witnessed with me
    my sister's coming out at Covent Garden, which took place on
    Tuesday, the 2nd of November, 1842, in Bellini's opera of "Norma,"
    which she sang in English, retaining the whole of the recitative. My
    sister's success was triumphant, and the fortunes of the unfortunate
    theatre, which again were at the lowest ebb, revived under the
    influence of her great and immediate popularity, and the overflowing
    houses that, night after night, crowded to hear her. Her
    performances, which I seldom missed, were among my most delightful
    pleasures, during a season in which I enjoyed the companionship of
    my dear friend, and a great deal of pleasant social intercourse with
    the most interesting and agreeable people of the great gay London

                                          BOWOOD, Sunday, December 19th.
                    _To Theodore Sedgwick, Esq._

I cannot conceive how it happens that a letter of yours, dated the 8th
September, should have reached me only a fortnight ago in London. Either
it must have been forgotten after written, and not sent for some time,
or Messrs. Harnden and Co.'s _Express_ is the slowest known conveyance
in the world. However that may be, the letter and the Philadelphia Bank
statement did arrive safe at last, and my father desires me to thank you
particularly for your kindness in sending it to him. Not, indeed, that
it is peculiarly consolatory in itself, inasmuch as it confirms our
worst apprehensions about the fate of all moneys lodged in that
disastrous institution. But perhaps it is better to have a term put to
one's uncertainty, even by the positive conviction of misfortune not to
be averted. My father's property in that bank--"The United States
Bank"--was considerable for him, and had been hardly earned money. I
understand from him that my share of our American earnings are in the
New Orleans banks, which, though they pay no dividends, and have not
done so for some time past, are still, I believe, supposed to be safe
and solvent....

We are staying just now with Lord and Lady Lansdowne, in this pleasant
home of theirs--a home of terrestrial delights. Inside the house, all is
tasteful and intellectual magnificence--such pictures! such statues!
And outside, a charming English landscape, educated with consummate
taste into the very perfection of apparently natural beauty.... They are
amiable, good, pleasant, and every way distinguished people, and I like
them very much. He, as you know, is one of our leading Whig statesmen, a
munificent patron of the arts and literature, a man of the finest taste
and cultivation, at whose house eminences of all sorts are cordially
received. Lady Lansdowne is a specimen Englishwoman of her class,
refined, intelligent, well-bred, and most charming. I believe Lord
Lansdowne was kindly civil to your aunt Catherine when she was in
London; I wish she could have see this enchanting place of his.

Rogers, Moore, and a parcel of choice _beaux esprits_ are staying here;
but, to tell you a fact which probably accuses me of stupidity, they are
so incessantly clever, witty, and brilliant that they every now and then
give me a brain-ache.

I do not know the exact depth of your patience, but I have an idea that
it has a bottom, therefore I think it expedient not to pursue _crossing_
any further with you.

Give my kindest love to Sarah, and

                    Believe me ever, my dear Theodore,
                              Yours very truly,
                                                           FANNY BUTLER.

Please remember me very kindly to your mother. I sat by a man at dinner
yesterday, a Dr. Fowler of Salisbury, who was talking to me of having
known her friends Mrs. Jay and Mrs. Banian, when they were in England;
and their names were pleasant to me on account of their association with

                                   BOWOOD, Tuesday, December 21st, 1841.

Did you expect an immediate answer from me, dear Harriet, or did you
think your letters would be put at the bottom of the budget, to wait
their appointed time? You say your thought in parting from me was
chiefly to preserve your tranquillity; and so was mine to preserve my
own and yours.... There are many occasions on which I both feel much
more than I show, and perceive in others much more feeling than I
believe they think I am aware of. There are times when, for one's own
sake, as well as for that of others, to be--or, if that is not
possible, to seem--absorbed in outward things of the most indifferent
description is highly desirable; and I am even conscious sometimes of a
sort of hardness, which seems to come involuntarily to my aid, in
seasons when I know myself or fear that others are about to be carried
away by their feelings, or to break down under them....

I was glad enough to get your second letter, and to know you were safe
in Dublin. It was calm the night you crossed, but it has blown once or
twice fearfully since.

Our visit to the Francis Egertons, at Worsley, was prosperous and
pleasant in the highest degree; and we are now paying our promised one
at Bowood. I must tell you a trait of Anne [my children's American
nurse], who, it is my belief, is nothing less than the Princess
Pocahontas, who, having returned to earth, has condescended to take
charge of my children.

You know that this place is celebrated; the house is not only fine in
point of size, architecture, and costly furnishing, but is filled with
precious works of art, painting and sculpture, modern and ancient,
beautiful, rare, and costly. The first day that we arrived, ushered up
the great staircase to our rooms, I followed the servant with wide-open
eyes, gazing in delighted admiration at everything I saw. "Well," said I
to Anne, "is not this a fine house, Anne?" "The staircase is well
enough," was her imperturbable reply. Wouldn't one think she had had the
Vatican for her second-best house, and St. Peter's for her private
chapel, all the days of her life? She certainly must have, some Indian
blood in her veins.

This morning I took a brisk walk along the sunny terrace, where, from
under the shining shelter of holly, laurel, cedar, and all other
evergreen shrubs and trees, one looks over a garden--that even now, with
its graceful vases, its terraces, its ivy winter dressing, is gay and
beautiful--to a lawn that slopes gently to a sheet of water, losing
itself like a lake among irregular wooded banks, whose brown feathery
outline borrows from the winter's sun a golden tinge of soft sad
splendor. Upon this water swans and wild-fowl sail and sport about; and
the whole scene this morning, tipped with sparkling frost, and shining
under a brilliant sky, seemed very charming to me, and to S---- too,
who, running by my side, exclaimed, "Well, this is my idea of heaven! I
do think this might be called Paradise, or that garden--I forget its
name--that Adam and Eve were put into!" (Eden had escaped her memory,
as, let us hope, in time it did theirs.) I was pleased to find that my
Biblical teachings had suggested positive images, and that she had
caught none of her nurse's stolid insensibility to beauty....

We have a choice society here just now, and fortunately among them
persons that we know and feel at our ease with: Rogers, Moore, Macaulay,
Babbage, Westmacott, Charles Greville, and two or three charming,
agreeable, unaffected women....

You ask if Lady Holland is at Bowood. No, she had returned home _by
land_, as they say [at the beginning of railroad travelling, persons who
still preferred the former method of posting on the high-road were said
to go by land], not choosing to risk her precious body on the railway
without Brunel's personal escort to keep it in order and prevent it from
doing her any accident. He having had the happiness of travelling down
to Bowood with her, which she insisted upon, naturally enough declined
coming all the way down again from London to see her safe home; so not
being able to accomplish his fetching her back to town, she contrived to
extort from him a letter stating that, owing to the late heavy rains,
her journey back to London upon the railroad would probably be both
tedious and uncomfortable, and advising her by all means to go home "by
land," which, considering that the Great Western is his own road--his
iron child, so to speak,--by which he is bound to swear under all
circumstances, is, I think, a pretty good specimen of her omnipotence.

She did post home accordingly, but not without dismal misgivings as to
what might befall her while crossing a wood of Lord Salisbury's, where
she was to be, for a short space of time, seven miles off from any
village or town. I never knew such a terrified, terrible, foolish old
woman in my life.

After all, she is right: life is worth more to very good and to very
good-for-nothing people than to others. My father dined with her in town
while we were away, and in her note of invitation she included us, if we
had returned, saying all manner of civil fine things about me; but, as
far as I am concerned, it won't do, and she cannot put salt upon my

We returned to town on Friday. Charles Greville saw my father on
Saturday, and says he is, and is looking, very well. Adelaide was gone
down to Addlestone, to see John and his wife. My children--bless
them!--are making such a riot here at my table that I scarcely know what
I am writing.

Good-bye, dearest Harriet. I will write to you again to-morrow.

                              Ever yours,

                               _Bowood_, Wednesday, December 22nd, 1841.
  _Dearest Harriet_,

I was a "happy woman" at Worsley [a "happy woman" was the term used by
me from my childhood to describe a woman on horseback], and, as
sometimes happens, had even too much of my happiness. My friend Lady
Francis is made of whalebone and india-rubber in equal proportions, very
neatly and elegantly fastened together with the finest steel springs,
and is incapable of fatigue from exertion, or injury from exposure.

Having an exalted idea of my capabilities in the way of horse exercise
(which, indeed, when I am in my usual condition, are pretty good), she
started off with me to H----, a distance of about eight miles, and we
did the whole way there and back (besides an episodical gallop, three
times full tear round a field, to tame our horses, which were wild)
either at a hard gallop or a harder trot. I, who have grown fat and
soft, and have hardly ridden since I left America, came home bruised and
beaten, and aching in every limb to that degree that I was glad to lie
down--conceive the humiliation!--and was much put to it to get up again
to dress for dinner; having, moreover, the consolation of being assured
by Lady Francis that she had ridden thus hard out of pure consideration
for me; supposing that the faster I went, the better I should be
pleased. I was, besides, mounted upon a fiery little fiend of a pony,
who pulled my arms out of their sockets and would not walk. However, by
repeating the dose every day, I suffered less and less, and am now once
more in excellent riding condition.

I remember a ludicrous circumstance of the same kind happening to me in
America, on the occasion of the first ride I ever took with my
brother-in-law, who was then comparatively a stranger to me. He was a
cavalry officer, a capital horseman, and hard rider; which qualities he
exhibited the first time I ever went out with him, by riding at such a
pace and for such a length of time that, perceiving he did not kill
himself, I asked if he was in the habit of killing his horse every time
he rode out; when he burst out laughing, and assured me that he thought
he was only conforming to my habitual pace.

Yesterday I varied my exercise, for I went out on horseback with Lord
Lansdowne, and finding the roads dangerously slippery for our horses,
which were not sharped, when we were at some distance from Bowood we
dismounted, and gave them to the groom, and came home on foot, a
distance of three miles, which, carrying one's habit [riding-skirts in
those days were very long], I think was as good as four.

You cannot conceive anything more melancholy than the aspect of
H----.... It was a miserable day, dark, dismal, and foggy; the
Manchester smoke came down, together with a penetrating cold drizzle,
like the defilement and weeping of irretrievable shame, and sin, and
sorrow; and the whole aspect of the place struck me with dismay. The
house was shut up, and looked absolutely deserted, not a soul stirring
about it; the garden dismantled and out of order. Altogether, the
contrast of the whole scene to that which I remembered so bright,
cheerful, gay, and lovely, combined with the cause of its present
condition, struck me as beyond measure mournful....

You ask after the welfare of my children's nurse, Anne; and I will tell
you something comically characteristic both of the individual and her
nation. Here at Bowood she eats alone with the children, as she has been
in the habit of doing at home; but at Worsley the little ones dined with
us at our luncheon-table, and she ate in the housekeeper's room. Not
knowing myself exactly what would be the place assigned to an American
nursery-maid in the society of the servants' hall at Worsley, I inquired
of her whether she was comfortable and well-treated. She said, "Oh, yes,
perfectly well;" but there seemed to me by her manner to be something or
other amiss, and upon my inquiring further, she said, "Well, then, Mrs.
Butler, I'll tell you what it is: I do wish they'd let me dine at the
lower table. Everything is very good and very fine, to be sure, and the
people are very kind and civil to me, but I cannot bear to have men in
livery and maid-servants standing up behind my chair waiting on me, and
that's the truth of it." She said this with an air of such sincere
discomfort that it was quite evident to me that if, in common with her
countrymen, she thought herself "as good as anybody," she certainly was
not seduced by the glories of the upper table into forgetting that any
one was as good as she.

I was spared the discomfort of having the children in another house; for
either Lady Francis has fewer guests than she expected, or she had
contrived to manage better than she had supposed she could, for they
were lodged under the same roof with me, and quite near enough for
comfort or convenience....

Thank you for your kindness in copying that account of Cavanagh for me;
thank you, too, for Archbishop Whately's book, which I read immediately.
There is nothing in it that I have not read before, nor certainly
anything whatever to alter my opinion that the accumulation of enormous
wealth in the hands of individuals who transmit it to their eldest sons,
who inherit it without either mental or physical exertion of theirs, is
an inevitable source of moral evil. There was nothing in that book to
shake my opinion that hereditary idleness and luxury are not good for
the country where they exist. An opinion was expressed in general
conversation by almost everybody at Worsley which suggested a conclusion
to my mind that did not appear to occur to any one else. In speaking of
the education of young English boys at our great public schools, the
whole system pursued in those institutions was condemned as bad; but on
all sides, nevertheless, admitted to be better (at any rate, for the
sons of noblemen) than the incessant, base, excessive complaisance and
flattery of their servants and dependents, from which they all said that
it was impossible to screen them in their own homes, and equally
impossible that they should not suffer serious moral evil. Lord Francis
said that for a lad like his nephew, the Marquis of Stafford, there was
but one thing worse than being educated at Eton, and that was being
educated at home; therefore, concluded they all in chorus, we send our
boys to our public schools. So the children are sent away lest they
should be corrupted by the obsequious servants and luxurious habits and
general mode of life of their parents. And this, of course, is one of
the inevitable results of distinctions of classes and hereditary wealth
and influence; it is not one of the good ones, but there are better.

God bless you, dearest Harriet. I wrote to you yesterday, and shall
probably do so again to-morrow.

                              Ever yours,

                     HARLEY STREET, LONDON, Sunday, December 26th, 1841.

I must tell you a droll little incident that occurred the day of our
leaving Bowood. As I was crossing the great hall, holding little F----
by the hand, Lord Lansdowne and Moore, who were talking at the other
end, came towards me, and, while the former expressed kind regrets at
our departure, Moore took up the child and kissed her, and set her down
again; when she clutched hold of my gown, and trotted silently out of
the hall by my side. As the great red door closed behind us, on our way
to my rooms, she said, in a tone that I thought indicated some stifled
sense of offended dignity, "Pray, mamma, who was dat little dentleman?"
Now, Harriet, though Moore's fame is great, his stature is little, and
my belief is that my three-year-old daughter was suffering under an
impression that she had been taken a liberty with by some enterprising
schoolboy. Oh, Harriet! think if one of his own Irish rosebuds of
sixteen had received that poet's kiss, how long it would have been
before she would have washed that side of her face! I believe if he had
bestowed it upon me, I would have kept mine from water for its sake,
till--bed-time. Indeed, when first "Lalla Rookh" came out, I think I
might have made a little circle on that cheek, and dedicated it to Tom
Moore and dirt forever; that is--till I forgot all about it, and my
habit of plunging my face into water whenever I dress got the better of
my finer feelings. But, you see, he didn't kiss my stupid little child's
intelligent mother, and this is the way that fool Fortune misbestows her
favors. She is spiteful, too, that whirligig woman with the wheel. I am
not an autograph collector, of course; if I was, I shouldn't have got
the prize I received yesterday, when Rogers, after mending a pen for me,
and tenderly caressing the nib of it with a knife as sharp as his own
tongue, wrote, in his beautiful, delicate, fine hand, by way of trying

    "The path of sorrow, and that path alone,
    Leads to the land where sorrow is unknown."

Is that a quotation from himself or some one else? or was it an
impromptu?--a seer's vision, and friend's warning? Chi sa?

I cannot help being a little surprised at the earnestness with which you
implore me to read Archbishop Whately's treatise. My objection to
reading of books never extends to any book either given or lent, or
strongly recommended to me. I am so fond of reading that I care very
little what I read, so well satisfied am I with the movement and
activity which even the stupidest, shallowest book rouses in my mind.
With regard to the little work in question, you probably thought the
subject might not interest me, and therefore I should neglect it. The
subject, _i.e._, political economy, interests me so little that, though
I have read at various times and in sundry places publications of the
same nature with much attention, they, in common with other books on
other subjects for which I do not care, have left not the slightest
trace upon my memory; at least, until I come to read the matter all over
again, when my knowledge of it reappears, as it were, on the surface of
my mind, though it had seemed to me to run through my brain like water
through a sieve.

I have no doubt that from my mode of talking of different peoples, under
various systems of government, you would not suspect me of having ever
looked into the simplest treatise on political economy and similar
subjects; but I have read most of the popular expositions of those grave
matters that the press now daily puts forth; but as they, for the most
part, deal with things as they _are_, and my cogitations are chiefly as
to things as they _should be_, I do not find my studies avail me much. I
believe I wrote you word after reading the book you sent me, and
thinking it a very excellent abridged exposition of such subjects; I
still could not understand what it had to do with the theory of laws for
the division of property, or the expediency of the law of primogeniture,
and the advantages of the distinctions of rank, to the societies where
they exist. The question seems to me rather whether these remains of
feudalism have or have not outlived their uses.

By-the-by, in taking off the cover in which you had wrapped the book, I
did not perceive that you had written upon it until I had thrown it into
the fire. I assure you that at the moment I was a great deal sorrier
than if the worthy little volume itself had been grilling on the top of
the coals.

We returned here on Friday, and found my father and Adelaide going on
much as usual. Half a score of invitations, of one sort and another,
waiting for us, and London, with its grim visage, looking less lovely
than ever after the sweet, tender, wintry beauty of Bowood; where one
walked, for a whole morning at a time, among hollies and laurels and
glittering evergreens, which, by the help of the sunshine we enjoyed
while we were there, gave the lie triumphant to the dead season.

I have been nurse almost all the day. Anne, who, poor girl! has had a
long fast from her devotional privileges, went to church, and I walked
with the children to the broad gravel walk in the Regent's Park, where I
took that "exercise of agony" with you one afternoon; the day was much
the same too, bright and sunny above, and exceedingly muddy and hateful
under foot. The servants having their Christmas dinner to-day, I offered
to take entire charge of the children, if Anne liked to join the party
downstairs. She affably condescended, and they prolonged the social
meal, or their after-dinner converse, for considerably more than two
hours. Since that, I have been reading to S----, and it is now time for
me to dress for dinner.

Adelaide and I dined _tête-à-tête_ to-day; my father dined with Miss
Cottin. I have refused, because it is Sunday; Adelaide, because she is
lazy; but she means to make the effort to go in the evening, and I shall
go to bed early, and very glad I shall be to shut up shop, for this has
been a very heavy day. How well nurses ought to be paid!

God bless you, dear Harriet.

                              Ever yours,

                            HARLEY STREET, Tuesday, December 28th, 1841.

I wrote you two long letters from Bowood, and one crossed note since I
came back to town; yet in a letter I get from you this morning you ask
me when your letters are "coming to the top" [of my packet of "my
letters to be answered," to which I always replied in the succession in
which they reached me]; at which, I confess, I feel not a little
dismayed. However, it is to be hoped that you will get them sooner or
later, and that, in this world or the next, you will discover that I
wrote to you two such letters, at such a time....

How can you ask me if I _play fair_ with my letters? Are you not sure
that I do? and, whatever may be the case with my better qualities, are
not my follies substantial, reliable, consistent, constant follies, that
are pretty sure to be found where you left them?

Good-bye, my dearest Harriet. I am terribly out of spirits, but it is
near bed-time, and the day will soon be done....

God bless you, dear. Give my kindest love to Dorothy. I am thinking of
your return with earnest longing.... As we passed the evening at the Hen
and Chickens, in the same room where I began reading you "Les Maîtres
Mosaistes," on our return through Birmingham from the lately formed
association, your image was naturally very vivid in our memories.

                              I am ever yours,

                                     HARLEY STREET, December 28th, 1841.

[This was an affectionate nickname that my friend Lady Dacre assumed
towards me, and by which I frequently addressed her], I do not mean this
time to tax your forgiveness of injuries quite so severely as before,
though you really have such a pretty knack of generosity that it's a
pity not to give you an opportunity of exercising it.

Here we are again in our Harley Street abode, which, by favor of the
fogs, smokes, and various lovely December complexions of London, looks
but grimly after the evergreen shrubberies and bowers of Bowood, which I
saw the evening before I came away to peculiar advantage, under the
light of an unclouded moon. I left there the goodliest company
conceivable: Rogers, Moore, Macaulay, Charles Austen, Mr. Dundas,
Charles Greville, and Westmacott: so much for the mankind. Then there
was dear old Miss Fox [Lord Holland's sister], whom I love, and Lady
Harriet Baring [afterwards Lady Ashburton], whom I do not love, which
does not prevent her being a very clever woman; and that exceedingly
pretty and intelligent Baroness Louis Rothschild, et cetera. It was a
brilliant party, but they were all so preternaturally witty and wise
that, to tell you the truth, dear Granny, they occasionally gave me the

As for Macaulay, he is like nothing in the world but Bayle's Dictionary,
continued down to the present time, and purified from all objectionable
matter. Such a Niagara of information did surely never pour from the
lips of mortal man!

I think our pilgrimages are pretty well over for the present, unless the
Duke of Rutland should remember a particularly courteous invitation he
gave us to go to Belvoir some time about Christmas--a summons which we
should very gladly obey, as I suppose there are not many finer places in
England or out of it.

I am sorry you have parted with Forrester [a horse Lady Dacre had named
after a favorite horse of mine]; I liked to fancy my dear old horse's
namesake at the Hoo.

Give my love to Lord Dacre, and my well-beloved B---- and G---- [Lady
Dacre's granddaughters]. I am glad the former is dancing, because I like
it so much myself. I look forward to seeing you all in the spring, and
in the mean time remain, dear Granny,

                              Yours most affectionately,

    [I became subsequently well acquainted with Lord Macaulay, but no
    familiarity ever diminished my admiration of his vast stores of
    knowledge, or my amazement at his abundant power of communicating

    In my visits to the houses of my friends, alike those with whom I
    was most and least intimate, I always passed a great deal of my time
    in my own room, and never remained in the drawing-room until after
    dinner, having a decided inclination for solitude in the morning and
    society in the evening. I used, however, to look in during the
    course of the day, upon whatever circle might be gathered in the
    drawing or morning rooms, for a few minutes at a time, and remember,
    on this occasion of my meeting Macaulay at Bowood, my amazement at
    finding him always in the same position on the hearth-rug, always
    talking, always answering everybody's questions about everything,
    always pouring forth eloquent knowledge; and I used to listen to him
    till I was breathless with what I thought ought to have been _his_

    As one approached the room, the loud, even, declamatory sound of his
    voice made itself heard like the uninterrupted flow of a fountain.
    He stood there from morning till evening, like a knight in the
    lists, challenging and accepting the challenge of all comers. There
    never was such a speech-"power," and as the volume of his voice was
    full and sonorous, he had immense advantages in sound as well as
    sense over his adversaries. Sydney Smith's humorous and good-humored
    rage at his prolific talk was very funny. Rogers's, of course, was
    not good-humored; and on this very occasion, one day at breakfast,
    having two or three times uplifted his thread of voice and fine
    incisive speech against the torrent of Macaulay's holding forth,
    Lord Lansdowne, the most courteous of hosts, endeavored to make way
    for him with a "You were saying, Mr. Rogers?" when Rogers hissed
    out, "Oh, what I was saying will keep!"

    I have spoken of Macaulay's discourse as a torrent; it was rather
    like the smooth and copious stream of the Aqua Paola, a comparison
    which it constantly suggested to me; the resonant, ceaseless, noble
    volume of water, the great fountain perpetually poured forth, was
    like the sonorous sound and affluent flow of his abundant speech,
    and the wide, eventful Roman plain, with all its thronging memories
    of past centuries, seen from the Janiculum, was like the vast and
    varied horizon of his knowledge, forever swept by his prodigious

                          HARLEY STREET, Wednesday, December 29th, 1841.

Just imagine my ecstasy in answering your last letter, dated the 24th! I
actually _do up_ the whole of that everlasting bundle of letters, which
is a sort of waking nightmare to me.

I have been within two or three of the last for the last week, and
having seldom seen myself so very near the end, I had a perfect fever of
desire to exist, if only for a day, without having a single letter to
answer. And now that I have tossed into the fire a note of Charles
Greville's, which I have just replied to, and have unfolded your last
and do the same by it, _i.e._ answer and burn it, the yellow silk cord
that bound that ominous bundle of obligations lies empty on the
inkstand, and I feel like Charles Lamb escaping from his India House
clerkship, a perfect lord, or rather lady, of unlimited leisure.

You ask me if I think letters will go on to be answered in eternity?
That supposition, my dear, involves the ideas of absence and epistolary
labor, both of which may be included in the torments of the damned, but,
according to my notions of heaven, there will be no letter-_writing_
there. As, however, the receiving of letters is, in my judgment, a
pleasure extremely worthy to be numbered among the enjoyments of the
blessed, I conclude that letters will occasionally come _to_ heaven, and
always be written in--the other place; so perhaps our correspondence may
continue hereafter. Who the writer and who the receiver shall be remains
to be proved (it's my belief that the use of pen and ink would have made
any one of the circles of the Inferno tolerable to you); and in any
case, those are epistles that it is not necessary to antedate. Klopstock
wrote and published--did he not?--letters which he wrote to his wife
Meta in heaven. The answers are not extant; perhaps they were in an
inferior style, humanly speaking, and he considerately suppressed them.

But to speak seriously, you forget in your query one of the principal
doubts that exercise my mind, _i.e._, whether there will be any
continuation of communion at all hereafter between those who have been
friends on earth; whether the relations of human beings to each other
here are not merely a part of our spiritual experience, that portion of
the education and progress of our souls that will terminate with this
phase of our existence and be succeeded by other influences, new ones,
fitted as these former have been to our (new) needs and conditions, by
the Great Governor of our being. He alone knows; He will provide for

The Coutts and Lord Strangford business (a dirty piece of money-scandal)
is nice enough, but I heard a still _nicer_ sequel to it at Bowood the
other day. The gentlemen of the party were discussing the matter, and
seemed all agreed upon the subject of Lord Strangford's innocence; but
while declaring unanimously that the accusation was unfounded and
unwarrantable, they added it was not half as bad as an attack of the
same sort made by one of the papers upon Lords Normanby and Canterbury,
which, after much discussion, was supposed to have been dictated
entirely by political animosity; the sole motive assigned for the
selection of those two men as the objects of such an odious accusation
being the fact of their personal want of popularity, and also that they
were known to be needy men, whose fortunes were considerably crippled by
their extravagance.

Of course, lie-makers must make plausibility one element of their craft;
but this did seem a pleasant specimen of the manufacture. To be sure, I
am bound to add that this account came from Whigs, and the attack was
made by a Tory paper upon two members of the ex-Government; so you may
believe it or not, according as you are Whig or Tory inclined to-day
(that is to say, the motives assigned); the attack itself is not matter
of doubt, having been visibly printed in one or more of the Tory papers.
Both parties, however, have, I suppose, their staff of appointed
technical and professional liars.

Good-bye, dear.

                              Ever yours,

                           HARLEY STREET, Thursday, December 30th, 1841.

... I am a little surprised at your writing to me about my rule of
correspondence as you do, because in several instances when you have
particularly desired me to answer you immediately, I have done so; and
should always do so, not by you alone, but by any one who requested an
immediate reply to a letter. If it were in my power to answer such a
communication on the same day, I should certainly do it, and, under such
circumstances, always have done so. As for my _rule_ of letter-writing,
absurd as some of its manifestations undoubtedly are, it is not, I
think, absurd _per se_; and I adopted it as more likely to result in
justice to _all_ my correspondents than any other I could follow. I have
a great dislike to letter-writing, and, were I to consult my own
disinclination, instead of answering letter for letter with the most
scrupulous conscientiousness as I do, even the persons I love best would
be very apt to hear from me once or twice a year, and perhaps,
indulgence increasing the incapacity and disinclination to write (as the
example of every member of my own family shows it must), I should
probably end by never writing at all.

I have always thought it most desirable to answer letters on the same
day that I received them; but, of course, this is not always possible;
and my rather numerous correspondence causing often a rapid accumulation
of letters, I have thought, when such an _arrearage_ took place, the
fittest thing to do was to answer first those received first, and so
discharge my debts justly in point of time. With regard to replying to
questions contained in letters received some time back, my
scrupulousness has to do with my own convenience, as well as my
correspondents' gratification. Writing as much as I do, I am, as
Rosalind calls it, "gravelled for matter" occasionally, and in that
emergency a specific question to answer becomes a real godsend; and, my
cue once given me, I can generally contrive to fill my paper. I do not
think you know how much I dislike letter-writing, and what an effort it
sometimes costs me, when my spirits are at the lowest ebb, and my mind
so engrossed with disheartening contemplations, that any exertions (but
violent physical ones, which are my salvation for the most part) appear

But I ought to tell you about our journey from Bowood, which threatened
to be more adventurous than agreeable. We did, as you suppose, come down
the railroad only a few hours after the occurrence of the accident. When
we started from Chippenham, some surprise was expressed by the guards
and railroad officials that the early train from London had not yet come
up. Farther on, coming to a place where there was but one track, we were
detained half an hour, from the apprehension that, as the other train
had not yet come up, we might, by going upon the single line, encounter
it, and the collision occasion some terrible accident. After waiting
about half an hour, and ascertaining (I suppose) that the other train
was not coming, we proceeded, and soon learned what had retarded it. On
the spot where the accident took place the bank had made a tremendous
slide; numbers of workmen were busy in removing the earth from the
track; the engine, which had been arrested in its course by this
impediment, was standing half on the line, half on the bank; planks and
wheels and fragments of wood were strewed all round; and a crowd of
people, with terrified eager faces, were gazing about in that vague love
of excitement which makes sights and places of catastrophes, to a
certain degree, delectable to human beings.

I cannot help thinking, dear Harriet, that this sad accident, sad enough
as I admit it to be for the relations and friends of the dead, was not
so particularly terrible as far as the individuals themselves were
concerned. God only knows how I may feel when I am struck, either in my
own life or that of any one I love; but hitherto death has not appeared
to me the awful calamity that people generally seem to consider it. The
purpose of life alone, time wherein to do God's will, makes it sacred. I
do not think it _pleasant_ enough to wish to keep it for a single
instant, without the idea of the _duty_ of living, since God has bid us
live. The only thought which makes me shrink from the notion of suicide
is the apprehension that to this life another _might_ succeed, as full
of storm, of strife, of disappointment, difficulty, and unrest as this;
and with that uncertainty overshadowing it, death has not much to
recommend it. It is poor Hamlet's "perchance" that is the knot of the
whole question, never here to be untied.

Involuntarily, we certainly hope for better things, for respite, for
rest, for enfranchisement from the thraldom of some of our passions and
affections, the goods and bonds that spur us through this life and
fasten us to it. We--perhaps I ought to say I--involuntarily connect the
idea of death with that of peace and repose; delivery, at any rate, from
some subjugation to sin, and from some subjection to "the ills we know"
(though it may be none of this), so that my first feeling about it is
generally that it is a happy rather than a deplorable event for the
principals concerned; but then comes the loss of the living, and I
perceive very well how my heart would bleed if those I love were taken
from me. I see my own desolation and agony in that case, but still feel
as if I could rejoice for them; for, after all, life is a heavy burden
on a weary way, and I never saw the human being whose existence was what
I should call happy. I have seen some whose lives were so _good_ that
they justified their own existence, and one could conceive both why
they lived and that they found it good to live.

Of course, this is instinctive feeling; reflection compels one to
acknowledge the infinite value of existence, for the purposes of
spiritual progress and improvement; the education of the soul; but my
nature, impatient of restraint and pain and trial (and therefore most in
need of the discipline of life), always rejoices at the first aspect of
death, as at that of the Deliverer. Sudden death I certainly pray _for_,
rather than _against_, and I think my father and sister were horrified
and indignant at my saying that I could not conceive a better way of
dying than being smashed, as we were all together, on that railway,
dashed to pieces in a moment, like those eight men who perished there
the other day.... This drew forth a suggestion that, if such were my
sentiments, we had better hire a carriage on the Brighton railroad, and
keep incessantly running up and down the line, by which means there
would be every probability of my dying in the way I thought most

I wish you would just step over from Ireland and spend the evening with
me; Adelaide and my father will be at the theatre....

God bless you, dearest Harriet.

                              Ever yours,

    [Some years after writing this letter, having returned to the stage,
    I was fulfilling an engagement at the Hull theatre, and as I stood
    at the side scene, waiting to go on, two poor young girls were
    standing near me, of that miserable class from which the temporarily
    employed supernumeraries of country theatres are recruited. One of
    them, who looked as if she was dying of consumption, and coughed
    incessantly, said to her companion, who remarked upon it, "Yes, I go
    on so pretty much all the time, and I have a mind sometimes to kill
    myself." "That's running away from school, my child," said I. "Don't
    do it, for you can't tell whether you mayn't be put to just as hard
    or even a harder life to finish your lesson in another world." "O
    Lord, ma'am!" said the girl, "I never thought of that." "But I have
    very often," said I to her, as I went on the stage to finish my

    The strange ignorance of all the conditions of life (except their
    own most wretched ones), even those but a few degrees removed from
    their own, of these poor creatures, betrayed itself in their
    awestruck admiration of my stage ornaments, which they took for real
    jewels. "Oh, but," said I, as they gazed at them with wonder, "if
    they were real jewels, you know, I should sell them to live, and not
    come to the theatre to act for my bread every night." "Oh, wouldn't
    you, ma'am?" exclaimed they, amazed that so blissful an occupation
    as that of a stage star, radiant with "such diamonds," should not be
    all that heart of woman could desire. Poor things--all of us!]

                                       HARLEY STREET, January 1st, 1842.

It is New Year's Day, my dearest Harriet. May God bless you. You will, I
hope, receive to-day my account of my journey home from Bowood. Any
anxiety you might have felt about us was certain to be dispelled by the
note I despatched to you after our arrival, and as to the accident which
took place on the railroad, I have nothing to tell you about it more
than you would see in the newspapers, and it did not occur to me to
mention it.

I read with attention the newspaper article you sent me about the corn
laws and the currency, and, though I did not quite understand all the
details given on the latter subject, yet the main question is one that I
have been so familiar with lately as to have comprehended, I believe,
the general sense of it. But I read it at Bowood, and though, as I
assure you, with the greatest attention, I do not remember a single word
of it now (the invariable practice of my memory with any subject that is
entirely uncongenial to me).

The mischievous influence of the undue extension of the credit system is
matter of daily discussion and daily illustration, I am sorry to say, in
the United States, where, in spite of their easy institutions, boundless
space, and inexhaustible real sources of credit (the wealth of the soil
and its agricultural and universal products), and all the commercial
advantages which their comparatively untrammelled conditions afford
them, they are all but bankrupt now; distressed at home and disgraced
abroad by the excess to which this pernicious system of trading upon
fictitious capital has been carried by eager, grasping,
hastening-to-be-rich people. Of course, the same causes must tend to
produce the same effects everywhere, though different circumstances may
partially modify the results; and in proportion as this vicious system
has prevailed with us in England, its consequences must, at some time or
other, culminate in sudden severe pressure upon the trading and
manufacturing interests, and I suppose, of course, upon all classes of
the industrial population of the country. The difficult details of
finance, and their practical application to the currency question, have
not often been understood, and therefore not often relished by me
whenever I have attempted to master them; but I have heard them
frequently and vehemently discussed by the advocates of both paper money
and coin currency; I have read all the manifestoes upon the subject put
forth by Mr. Nicholas Biddle, late President of the United States Bank,
who is supposed to have understood finance well, though the unfortunate
funds committed to his charge do not appear to have been the safer for
that circumstance.... The failure of the United States Bank has been
sometimes considered as a political catastrophe, the result of party
animosity and personal enmity towards Mr. Biddle on the part of General
Jackson, who, being then President of the United States, gave a fatal
blow to the credit of the bank (which, though calling itself the United
States Bank, was not a Government institution) by removing from its
custody the Government deposits. My impression upon the subject (simple,
as I have no doubt you would expect to find the result of any mental
process of mine) is that paper money is a financial expedient, the
substitution of an appearance or makeshift for a real thing, and likely,
like all other such substitutes of whatever kind, to become a source of
shame, trouble, and ruin whenever, after the appointed time of
circulation, which every expedient has, there should be a demand for the
real article; more especially if the shadow has imposed upon the world
by being twice as big as the substance.

The papers and pamphlets you have sent me, dear Harriet, seem to me only
to prove that excessive and unjust taxation, partial and unjust corn
laws, and unwise financial ones (together with other causes, which seem
to me ominous of evil results), have produced the distress,
embarrassment, and discontent existing in this, the richest and most
enlightened country in the world....

I have been interrupted half a dozen times while writing this letter,
once by a long visit from Mrs. Jameson.... Lady M---- called too, with
a pretty little widow, a Mrs. M----, a great friend of Adelaide's.
Dearest Harriet, here my letter was broken off yesterday morning,
Friday; it is now Saturday evening, and this morning arrived two long
ones from America. Now, if I should get one to-morrow or the next day,
from you, will it be very unjust to put yours under these, and answer
them before I write any more to you? I think not, but I must make an end
of this....

Good-bye, and God bless you.

                              I am ever yours,

                              HARLEY STREET, Tuesday, January 4th, 1842.

... You say you wonder that those who love and worship Christ should be
wanting in patience and the spirit of endurance. Do you not wonder, too,
that they should fail in self-denial, charity, mercy, all the virtues of
their Divine Model? But this is a terrible chapter, and sad subject of
speculation for all of us, and I can't bear to speak upon it.

In talking once with my sister of self-condemnation, and our
condemnation of others, I used an expression which she took up as
eminently ridiculous; but I think she did not quite understand me. I
said that there was a feeling of _modesty_ which prevented one's
uttering the extent of one's own self-accusations, at which she laughed
very much, and said she thought that modesty ought to interfere in
behalf of others as well as one's self; but there are some reasons why
it does not. Severely as one may judge and blame others, it is always,
of course, with the perception that one cannot know the _whole_ of the
case for or against them; nevertheless, even with this conviction, there
are certain words and deeds of others which one condemns unhesitatingly.
Such sentences as these I pronounce often and without scruple (harshly,
perhaps, and therein committing most mischievous, foul sin in chiding
sin), but one does not utter that which one feels more rarely (however
strongly, in particular instances), one's impression of the evil
tendency of a whole character, the weakness or wickedness, the disease
which pervades the whole moral constitution, and which seems to denote
certain inevitable results; on these one hesitates to pronounce
opinion, not so much, I think, because of the uncertainty one feels, as
in the case of a special motive, or temptation to any special act, and
the liability to mistake, both in the quality of motive and quality of
temptation; as because so much deeper a condemnation is involved in such
judgments. It is the difference between a physician's opinion on an
acute attack of illness or a radical and fatal constitutional tendency.
This sort of condemnation requires such intimate knowledge that one can
hardly pass it upon any but one's self. One cannot tear off all
coverings from the hearts and minds of others, whereas one could strip
one's own moral deformities naked, and that species of self-accusation
does seem to me a kind of immodesty. One naturally shrinks, too, from
speaking of deep and awful things, and then there is the all but
insuperable difficulty of putting one's most intimate convictions, _the
realities of one's soul_, into words at all....

Oh, my dear Harriet, I have told you nothing of John and Natalia's
mesmeric practices [my brother and his German wife]. If you could have
seen them, you would have split your lean sides more than you did at my
aspect and demeanor while listening to A---- reading her favorite French
novels to me.

By-the-by, do you know that that very book, "Mathilde," which I could
not listen to for a quarter of an hour with common patience, is cried up
everywhere and by everybody as a most extraordinary production? At
Bowood everybody was raving about it; Mrs. Jameson tells me that Carlyle
excepted it from a general anathema on French novels. Sometimes I think
I will try again to get through it, and then I think, as little F----
says when she is requested to do something that she ought, "_Eelly_,
now, me _tan not_."

I am finishing George Sand's "Lettres d'un Voyageur," because in an evil
hour I began them. Her style is really admirable, and in this book one
escapes the moral (or immoral) complications of her stories.

God bless you, dear Harriet. Good-bye. Time and opportunity serving, you
surely see that I am not only faithful, but prompt, in the discharge of
my debts.

                              Ever yours,

I forgot to tell you that my poor Margery [my children's former nurse]
has at length applied to the tribunals of Pennsylvania for a separation
from her cruel and worthless husband. Poor thing! I hope she will obtain

    [The tribunals of Pennsylvania followed, in the law of divorce, the
    German and not the English precedent and process. Divorce was
    granted by them, as well as mere separation, on plea of
    incompatibility of temper, and also for cause of non-cohabitation
    during a space of two years. In regard to the laws of marriage and
    divorce, as well as most other matters, each state in the Union had
    its own peculiar code, agreeing or differing from the rest. The
    Massachusetts laws of marriage and divorce were, I believe, the same
    as the English. In Pennsylvania a much greater facility for
    obtaining divorce--adopted, I suppose, from German modes of thought
    and feeling, and perhaps German legislature--prevailed, while in
    some of the western states, more exclusively occupied by a German
    population, the facility with which the bond of marriage was
    dissolved was greater than in any civilized Christian community in
    the world, I think.]

                                      HARLEY STREET, January 16th, 1842.

At the end of a long, kind letter I received from you this morning,
dearest Harriet, there is a most sudden and incomprehensible sentence,
an incoherent, combined malediction upon yourself and your dog Bevis,
which I found it difficult to connect in any way with the matter which
preceded it, which was very good advice to me, abruptly terminating in a
declaration that you were a fool and your dog Bevis a brute, and leaving
me to conclude either that he had overturned your inkstand or that you
had gone mad, though indeed your two propositions are sane enough: for
the first I would contradict if I could; the second I could not if I
would; and so, as the Italians say, "Sono rimasta." ...

With regard to the likeness between my sister and myself, it is as great
as our unlikeness.... Our mode of perceiving and being affected by
things and people is often identical, and our impressions frequently so
similar and so simultaneous that we both often utter precisely the same
words upon a subject, so that it might seem as if one of us might save
the other the trouble of speaking.... She is a thousand times quicker,
keener, finer, shrewder, and sweeter than I am, and all my mental
processes, compared with hers, are slow, coarse, and clumsy.

Here my letter broke off yesterday morning, and yesterday evening I went
to see the new opera, so that I shall have realities instead of
speculations to treat you to. [The opera was an English version of the
"Elena da Feltre," by Mercadante, whose dramatic compositions, "La
Vestale," "Le Due Illustre Rivale," the "Elena da Feltre," and others,
obtained a very considerable temporary popularity in Italy, but were, I
think, little known elsewhere. They were not first-rate musical
productions, but had a good deal of agreeable, though not very original,
melody, and were favorable to a declamatory, passionate style of
singing, having a great deal of dramatic power and pathos. My sister was
fond of them, and gave them with great effect, and the celebrated _prima
donna_, Madame Ungher, achieved great popularity and excited immense
enthusiasm in some of them.]

The opera was entirely successful, owing certainly to Adelaide, for the
music is not agreeable, or of an order to become popular; the story is
rather involved, which, however, as people have books to help them to
it, does not so much matter. She was beautifully and becomingly dressed
in mediæval Italian costume, and looked very handsome. Her voice was, as
usual, very much affected by her nervousness, and comparatively feeble;
this, however, signifies little, as it is only on the first night that
it occurs, and every succeeding representation, her anxiety being less,
she recovers more power of voice.

She acted extremely well, so as again to excite in me the strongest
desire to see her in an _acting_ part; a desire which is only qualified
by the consideration that she makes more money at present as a singer
than she probably could as an actress. At the end of the piece she
_died_, with one of those expressions of feeling the effect of which
may, without exaggeration, be called electrifying: it made me spring on
my seat, and the whole audience responded with that voice of human
sympathy that any true representation of feeling elicits
instantaneously. Having renounced her lover, and married a man she
hated, to save her father's life, after seeing her lover go to church
and be married to another woman, her father being nevertheless executed
(an old story, no doubt, but that's no matter), she loses her senses
and stabs herself, and as she falls into the arms of her husband (the
man she hated) she sees her lover, who just arrives at this moment, and
the dying spring which she made, with her arms stretched towards him,
falling, before she reached him, dead on the ground, was one of those
terrible and touching things which the stage only can reproduce from
nature--I mean, out of reality itself--a thing that of course neither
painting nor sculpture could attempt, and that would have been
comparatively cold and ineffective even in poetry, but which "in action"
was indescribably pathetic. It had been, like many happy dramatic
effects, a sudden thought with her, for it had only occurred to her
yesterday morning; but the grace of the action, its beauty, truth, and
expressiveness, are not to be conveyed by words. You will see it; not
that, indeed, it may ever again be so very happy a thing in its

God bless you, dear Harriet. Good-bye.

                              Ever yours,

                                      HARLEY STREET, January 31st, 1842.

Why do you ask me if I would not write to you unless you wrote to me? Do
you not know perfectly well that I _would not_--unless, indeed, I
thought you were ill or something was the matter with you; and then I
would write just enough to find out if such was the case. Why should I
write to you, when I hate writing, and yet nevertheless _always_ answer
letters? Surely the spontaneous, or promiscuous (which did you call it,
you Irishwoman?) epistle should come from the person who does not
profess to labor under an _inkophobia_. And what can you righteously
complain of, when I not only never fail scrupulously to answer your
letters, but, be they long or short, invariably answer them
_abundantly_, having as great an objection to writing a short letter
almost as I have to writing any? Basta! never doubt any more about the
matter, my dear Harriet. I never (I think) shall write to you, but I
also (I think) shall never fail to answer you. If you are not satisfied
with that, I can't help it.... We have a lull in our engagements just
now--comparative quiet. We gave a family dinner on Friday.... My father,
I am sorry to say, gets no rent from the theatre. The nights on which
my sister does not sing the house is literally empty. Alas! it is the
old story over again: that whole ruinous concern is propped only by her.
That property is like some fate to which our whole family are subject,
by which we are every one of us destined to be borne down by turn, after
vainly dedicating ourselves to its rescue.

On Saturday I spent the evening at Lady Charlotte Lindsay's, who has a
very kind regard for you, and spoke of your brother Barry with great
affection. To-morrow, after going to the opera, I shall go to Miss
Berry's. My sister and father go to Apsley House, where the Duke of
Wellington gives a grand entertainment to the King of Prussia. We were
asked too, but, though rather tempted by the fine show, it was finally
concluded that we should not go, so we shall only have it at second
hand. This is all my news for the present, dear Harriet. God bless you.
Good-bye. If you ever wish to hear from me, drop me a line to that

                              Ever yours (and the same),

    [Circumstances occurred which induced us to change our plans, and I
    did go to the _fête_ at Apsley House, which was very beautiful and
    magnificent. A pleasant incident of the evening was a special
    introduction to and a few minutes' conversation with our illustrious
    host; and the pleasantest of all, I am almost ashamed to say, was
    the memorable appearance of Lady Douro and Mademoiselle d'Este, who,
    coming into the room together, produced a most striking effect by
    their great beauty and their exquisite dress. They both wore
    magnificent dresses of white lace over white satin, ornamented with
    large cactus flowers, those of the blonde marchioness being of the
    sea-shell rose color, and the dark Mademoiselle d'Este's of the deep
    scarlet; and in the bottom of each of these large, vivid blossoms
    lay, like a great drop of dew, a single splendid diamond. The women
    were noble samples of fair and dark beauty, and their whole
    appearance, coming in together, attired with such elegant and
    becoming magnificent simplicity, produced an effect of surprise and
    admiration on the whole brilliant assembly.]

                                      HARLEY STREET, February 4th, 1842.

At twelve o'clock to-day I rang for candles, in order that the fog might
not prevent my answering your letter. I was obliged to go out, however,
and the skies in the interim have cleared; and where do you think I have
been? Why, like a fool as I am, to _see a sight_, and I am well paid by
feeling so tired, and having such a headache, and having had such a
fright, that--it serves me right.

Our dear friend Harness has, as perhaps you know, an office which Lord
Lansdowne gave him, by virtue of which he occupies a very pleasant
apartment in the Council Office Building, the windows of which look out
on Whitehall. Here he begged me to come and bring the children, that we
might see the Queen, and the King of Prussia, and all the great folks,
go to the opening of Parliament, and in an evil hour I consented,
Harness informing me at what hour to come, and what way to take to avoid
the crowd. But the carriage was ordered half an hour later than we ought
to have started, and the coachman was ordered to take us down Whitehall
(though Harness had warned me that we could not come that way, and that
we must leave our carriage at the Carlton Terrace steps, and walk across
the park to the little passage which leads straight into Downing
Street). Down Whitehall, however, we attempted to go, and were of course
turned back by the police. We then retraced our route to the Carlton
steps, and here, with the two children, Anne, and the footman, I made my
way through the crowd; but oh, what a way! and what a crowd! When we got
down into the park, the only clear space was the narrow line left open
for the carriages, and some of them were passing at a rapid trot, just
as we found our way into their road, and the dense wall of human beings
we had squeezed through closed behind us. I assure you, Harriet, the
children were not half a foot from one of those huge carriage-horses,
nor was there any means of retreat; the living mass behind us was as
compact as brick and mortar. We took a favorable moment, and, rushing
across the road into the protecting arms of some blessed, benevolent
policemen, who were keeping the line, were seized, and dragged, and
pushed, and pulled, and finally made way for, through the crowd on the
other side, and then ran, without stopping, till we reached our
destination; but the peril of the children, and the exertion of
extricating them and ourselves from such a situation, had been such
that, on reaching Harness's rooms, I shook so that I could hardly stand,
and the imperturbable Anne actually burst into tears. So much for the
delights of sight-seeing.

As for me, you know I would not go to the end of the street to see the
finest thing in the universe; but, in the first place, I had promised,
and in the next, I was so miserably out of spirits that, though I could
not bear to go out, I could not bear to stay at home; but certainly, my
detestation of running after a sight was never more heartily confirmed.

The concourse was immense, but I was much surprised at the entire want
of excitement and enthusiasm in the vast multitude who thronged and all
but choked up the Queen's way. All hats were lifted, but there was not a
hatful of cheers, and the whole thing produced a disagreeable effect of
coldness, indifference, or constraint.

Harness said it was nineteenth-century breeding, which was too exquisite
to allow even of the mob's shouting. He is a Tory. T---- M----, who is a
very warm Whig, thought the silence spoke of Paisley starvation and
Windsor banquets. I thought these and other things besides might have to
do with the people's not cheering.

E---- (who, bless her soul! has just been here, talking such gigantic
nonsense) must have misunderstood me, or you must have misunderstood
her, in supposing that I made a distinct _promise_ to answer four
crossed sheets of paper to four lines of yours. I said it was my usual
practice to do so, and one from which I was not likely to depart,
because I hate writing a short letter as much as I hate writing any
letter at all....

Have you received one letter from me since you have been in Mountjoy
Square? I have written one to you there, but, owing to the habit of my
hand, which is to write "Ardgillan Castle," the direction was so
scratched and blurred that I had some doubts whether the letter would
reach you. Let me know, dear Harriet, if it does....

E---- must have made another blunder about Lady Westmoreland and my
sister. It is not the Duke of Wellington's money, in particular, that
she objects to receiving; she does not intend to sing in private _for
money_ at all, anywhere, or on any occasion; which I am very glad of,
as, if she did, I think social embarrassments and professional
complications of every sort, and all disagreeable ones, would arise from

We were all very cordially invited to Apsley House by Lady Westmoreland,
before my sister stated that she did not intend to sing there for
money.... Besides this, there came a formal bidding in the Duke of
Wellington's own hand [or Algernon Greville's, who used to forge his
illustrious chief's signature on all common occasions], with which we
were very well pleased to comply....

A---- has been trying to inoculate me with Paul de Kock, who, she
assures me, is a _moral_ writer, and with whose books our tables,
chairs, sofas, and beds are covered, as with the unclean plagues of
Egypt. I read one of the novels and began another. They are very clever,
very funny, very dirty, abominably immoral, and I do not think I _can_
read any more of them; for though I confess to having laughed till my
sides ached over some parts of what I read, I was, upon reflection and
upon the whole, disgusted and displeased....

I have _precisely_ your feeling about Mrs. F---- in every particular; I
think her the funniest and the kindest old maniac I am acquainted with,
and my intercourse with her is according to that opinion. Good-bye, my
dearest Harriet; God bless you. I wish I was where I could see green
fields. I am in miserable spirits, and would give "my kingdom for a
horse," and the world for an hour's gallop in the country.

                              Ever yours,

    [My dear and excellent friend the Rev. William Harness refused from
    conscientious motives to hold more than one Church benefice, though
    repeated offers of livings were made to him by various of his
    influential friends. Lord Lansdowne, who had a very affectionate
    esteem for him, gave him the civil office I have alluded to in this
    letter, and this not being open to Mr. Harness's scruples with
    regard to sacred sinecures, he accepted. His means were always
    small, his charities great, and his genial hospitality unfailing. He
    was one of the simplest, most modest, unpretending, honorable,
    high-minded, warm hearted human beings I have ever known. Goodness
    appeared easy to him--the best proof how good he was.]

                                      HARLEY STREET, February 5th, 1842.

I did not care very much about the _fête_ itself at Apsley House, but I
was very glad to go to it upon the Duke of Wellington's invitation, and
felt as much honored and gratified by that as I could be by any such
sort of thing. My sister did sing for them, though, poor thing! not very
well. She had just gone through the new opera, and was besides laboring
under a terrible cough and cold, through which, I am sorry to say, she
has been singing for the last week. There was no particular reason for
her not taking money at _that_ concert. She does not intend to be paid
for singing in society at all.... Of course, her declining such
engagements will greatly diminish her income, popular singers making
nearly half their earnings by such means; but I am sure that, situated
as we all are, she is right, and will avoid a good many annoyances by
this determination, though her pocket will suffer for it....

I know nothing whatever, of course, about the statements in the papers,
which I never look at, about the financial disgraces and embarrassments
in America. The United States Bank (in which my father had put four
thousand pounds, which he could ill spare) is swept from the face of the
earth, and everybody's money put into it has been like something thrust
down a gaping mouth that had no stomach; it has disappeared in void
space, and is irredeemably lost. I have seven thousand pounds in the New
Orleans banks, which I have given my father for his life. Those banks,
it is said, are sound, and will ere long resume specie payments, and
give dividends to their stockholders. Amen, so be it. It is affirmed
that Mr. Biddle's prosecution will lead to nothing, but that the state
of Pennsylvania will pay its debts, means to do so, and will be able to
do so without any difficulty.... God bless you, dear Harriet. Write to
me soon again, for, though I do hate answering you, I hate worse not
hearing from you.

                              Ever yours,

I am glad you liked "Les Maîtres Mosaistes;" I think it charming. Thank
you for your "Enfant du Peuple." I have been trying some Paul de Kock,
but _cannot_ get on with it.

    [Of Madame George Sand's few unobjectionable books, "Les Maîtres
    Mosaistes" seems to me the best. As an historical picture of Venice
    and its glorious period of supremacy in art, it is admirable. As a
    pathetic human history, it is excellent; with this drawback,
    however, that in it the author has avoided the subject of the
    relations between the sexes--her invariable rock ahead, both morally
    and artistically; and it is by the entire omission of the important
    element of love that this work of hers is free from the reproach the
    author never escapes when she treats of it. It is a great pity her
    fine genius has so deep a flaw.]

                                     HARLEY STREET, February 11th, 1842.

... I want to know if you can come to us on the 20th of this month,
instead of the 1st of March, as I expected you. I believe I told you
that the Duke of Rutland, when we met him at the Arkwrights', at Sutton,
gave us all a very kind invitation to Belvoir, which we accepted, and
have been expecting since that some more definite intimation when the
time of our visit would be convenient. He called here the other day, but
we were none of us at home, and this morning we and my father heard from
him, recalling our promise to go to Belvoir, and begging us to fix any
time between this and the month of April. Now, the only time when my
sister can go, poor child! is during Passion Week; and as I am very
anxious that she should have the refreshment of a week in the country,
and her being with us will be a great addition to my own enjoyment, I
want to appoint that time for our visit to the Duke of Rutland. That,
however, happens about the 20th of March, when I expected you to be with
us; but if, by coming earlier, you can give me as long a visit as you
had promised me, without inconveniencing yourself, I shall be glad, dear
Harriet; for though _we_ can go to Belvoir at any time before or after
March, I wish my sister not to lose a pleasant visit to a beautiful

To tell you the truth, it would be a great pleasure to me that you
should come so much sooner than I had reckoned upon having you; and as
Emily and I trotted round Portman Square together to-day, we both made
out that, if you come into this arrangement, you will be here on Tuesday
week, which appears to me in itself delightful. Let me know, dear, what
you decide, as I shall not answer the Duke of Rutland until I have heard
from you.

I promise myself much pleasure from seeing Belvoir. The place, with
which I am familiar through engravings and descriptions, is a fine house
in one of the finest situations in England; and the idea of being out of
London once more, in the country and on horseback, is superlatively
agreeable to me.

And now, my dearest, to answer your letter, which I got this morning.
For pity's sake, let Lady Westmoreland rest, for the present; we will
take her up again, if expedient, when we meet.... The Duke of Wellington
called here the other day, and brought an exceedingly pretty bracelet
and amiable note to my sister; both which, as you may suppose, she
values highly, as she ought to do.

About the cheering of the Queen on her way to Parliament the other day,
I incline to think the silence was universal, for everybody with whom I
was observed it, except Charles Greville, who swore she was applauded;
but then he is deaf, and therefore hears what no one else can. Moreover,
the majority of spectators were by no means well-dressed people; the
streets were thronged with pure mobocracy, to a degree unprecedented on
any previous occasion of the sort, and, though there was no exhibition
of ill-feeling towards the Queen or any of the ministers, there was no
demonstration of good will beyond the usual civility of lifting the hats
as she passed. Indeed, Horace Wilson told me that, when he was crossing
the park at the time of her driving through it, there was some--though
not much--decided hissing.

Your lamentation over my want of curiosity reminds me that on this very
occasion Charles Greville offered to take me all over the Coldbath
Fields Prison, and show me the delights of the treadmill, etc., and
expressed great astonishment that I did not enthusiastically accept this
opportunity of seeing such a cheerful spectacle, and still more
amazement at my general want of enlightened curiosity, which he
appeared to consider quite unworthy of so intelligent a person.

I have not read Stephens's book on Central America, but only certain
extracts from it in the last _Quarterly_, with which I was particularly
charmed; but I admire your asking me why I did not send for his book
from the circulating library instead of Paul de Kock. Do you suppose _I_
sent for Paul de Kock? Don't you know I never send for any book, and
never _read_ any book, but such as I am desired, required, lent, or
given to read by somebody? being, for the most part, very indifferent
what I read, and having the obliging faculty of forgetting immediately
what I have read, which is an additional reason for my not caring much
what my books are. Still, there is a point at which my indifference will
give way to disgust.... ---- recommended Paul de Kock's books strongly
to me, therefore I read one of them, but found it so very little to my
taste that I was obliged, against my usual rule of compliance with my
friend's recommendations in these matters, to decline the rest of the
author's works. I have begun your "Enfant du Peuple," and many are the
heartaches I have had already, though I have read but little of it, over
that poor Jean Baptiste's tender and touching love, which reminds one of
Jacob's serving seven years for the sake of Rachel, and hardly counting
them a day....

Dearest Harriet, if in the matter of your visit to us you cannot alter
your plans, which have already been turned topsy-turvy once to suit
ours, we will go at some other time to Belvoir, and my sister must e'en
give it up, as in my professional days I had to forego Stoke,
Chatsworth, and, hardest by far of all, Abbotsford.

God bless you, dearest Harriet. Give my kind love to M----. I rejoice to
hear of her convalescence. Remember me affectionately to Dorothy, and
believe me,

                              Ever yours,

                                          GRIMSTHORPE, March 27th, 1842.

Thank God and O'Connell for your smooth passage. I really dreaded the
effects of sea-sickness for you, combined with that racking cough....

We left Belvoir yesterday, and came on here, having promised Lady
Willoughby to visit them on our way back to London.

I do not know whether you ever saw Belvoir. It is a beautiful place; the
situation is noble, and the views from the windows of the castle, and
the terraces and gardens hanging on the steep hill crowned by it, are
charming. The whole vale of Belvoir, and miles of meadow and woodland,
lie stretched below it like a map unrolled to the distant horizon,
presenting extensive and varied prospects in every direction, while from
the glen which surrounds the castle hill like a deep moat filled with a
forest, the spring winds swell up as from a sea of woodland, and the
snatches of bird-carolling and cawing rook-discourse float up to one
from nests in the topmost branches of tall trees, far below one's feet,
as one stands on the battlemented terraces.

The interior of the house is handsome, and in good taste; and the whole
mode of life stately and splendid, as well as extremely pleasant and
comfortable. The people--I mean the Duke and his family--kind and
courteous hosts, and the society very easy and free from stiffness or
constraint of any sort; and I have enjoyed my visit very much....

We had a large party at Belvoir. The gentlemen of the hunt were all at
the castle; and besides the ladies of the family (one unmarried and two
married daughters), we had the Duchess of Richmond and her
granddaughter, the Duke and Duchess of Bedford, Lord and Lady
Winchelsea, Mademoiselle d'Este, and a whole tribe of others whose names
I forget, but which are all duly down in the butler's book.

Every morning the duke's band marched round the castle, playing all
sorts of sprightly music, to summon us to breakfast, and we had the same
agreeable warning that dinner was ready. As soon as the dessert was
placed on the table, singers came in, and performed four pieces of
music; two by a very sweet single voice, and two by three or more
voices. This, with intervals for conversation, filled up the allotted
time before the ladies left the table. In the evening we had music, of
course, and one evening we adjourned to the ball-room, where we danced
all night, the duke leading down a country-dance, in which his
house-maids and men-cooks were vigorously figuring at the same time.

Whenever my sister sang, the servants used all to assemble on a large
staircase at one end of the ball-room, where, for the sake of the sound,
the piano was placed, and appeared among her most enthusiastic
hearers.... The whole family were extremely cordial and kind to us; and
when we drove away, they all assembled at an upper window, waving hats
and handkerchiefs as long as we could see them. I have no room to tell
you anything of Grimsthorpe. God bless you. Good-bye.

                              Ever yours,

    [My first introduction to "afternoon tea" took place during this
    visit to Belvoir, when I received on several occasions private and
    rather mysterious invitations to the Duchess of Bedford's room, and
    found her with a "small and select" circle of female guests of the
    castle, busily employed in brewing and drinking tea, with her
    grace's own private tea-kettle. I do not believe that now
    universally honored and observed institution of "five-o'clock tea"
    dates farther back in the annals of English civilization than this
    very private and, I think, rather shamefaced practice of it.

    Our visit to Grimsthorpe has left but three distinct images on my
    memory: that of my bedroom, with its furniture of green velvet and
    regal bed-hangings of white satin and point lace; that of the
    collection of thrones in the dining-room, the Lords Willoughby de
    Eresby being hereditary Lord Grand Chamberlains of England, whose
    perquisite of office was the throne or chair of state used by each
    sovereign at his or her coronation; and my intercourse with
    Mademoiselle d'Este, who, like ourselves, came from Belvoir to
    Grimsthorpe, and with whom I here began an acquaintance that grew
    into intimacy, and interested me a good deal from her peculiar
    character and circumstances.]

                                HARLEY STREET, London, March 31st, 1842.
  MY DEAR T----,

... My father is in wonderful health, looks, and spirits, considering
that in all these items this time last year he was very little better
than dead. My sister is working very hard and very successfully, and
proposing to herself, after two more years of assiduous labor, to retire
on a moderate income to Italy, where she would rather live than
anywhere else. But, oh dear me! how well I remember the day when that
was my own vision of the future, and only see what a very different
thing it has turned out! I think it not at all improbable that she will
visit the United States next year, and that we shall find that moment
propitious for returning; that is to say, about a twelvemonth from next
month.... So much for private interests. As to the public ones: alas!
Sir Robert Peel is losing both his health and his temper, they say; and
no wonder at it! His modification of the corn laws and new tariff are
abominations to his own party, and his income tax an abomination to the
nation at large. I cannot conceive a more detestable position than his,
except, perhaps indeed, that of the country itself just now. Poverty and
discontent in great masses of the people; a pitiless Opposition,
snapping up and worrying to pieces every measure proposed by the
Ministry, merely for malignant _mischeevousness_, as the nursemaids say,
for I don't believe they--the Whigs--will be trusted again by the people
for at least a century to come; a determined, troublesome, and
increasing Radical party, whose private and personal views are fairly
and dangerously masked by the public grievances of which they advocate
the redress; a minister, hated personally by his own party, with hardly
an individual of his own political persuasion in either House who
follows him cordially, or, rather, who does not feel himself personally
aggrieved by one or other of the measures of reform he has
proposed,--yet that minister the only man in England at this moment able
to stand up at the head of public affairs, and the defeat of whose
measures (distasteful as they are to his own party, and little
satisfactory to the people in general) would produce instantaneously, I
believe, such confusion, disorder, and dismay as England has not seen
for many a year, not indeed since the last great Reform crisis;--all
this is not pleasant, and makes me pity everybody connected with the
present Government, and Sir Robert Peel more than anybody else. I wonder
how long he'll be able to stand it.

What have you done with Lord Morpeth? And what are you doing with "Boz"?
The first has a most tenderly attached mother and sisters, and really
should not, on their account, be killed with kindness; and the latter
has several small children, I believe, who, I suppose, will naturally
desire that your national admiration should not annihilate their
papa.... I wish we were to come back to America soon, but wishes are
nonsensical things.... Give my dear love to Catherine and Kate [Miss
Sedgwick and her niece], if they are in New York when this reaches you.

Good-bye, my dear T----. I would not have troubled you with this if I
had known Mrs. Robert's address; but "Wall Street" will find you, though
"Warren Street" knows her no longer.

We have been spending ten days at Belvoir Castle, with all sorts of
dukes and duchesses. Don't you perceive it in the nobility of my style?
It is well for a foreigner to see these things; they are pretty,
pleasant, gay, grand, and, in some of their aspects, good; but I think
that who would see them even as they still subsist now had better lose
no time about it.

                               HARLEY STREET, Tuesday, April 12th, 1842.

Did anyone ever say there was not a "soul of good even in things evil"?
From your mode of replying to my first letter, dearest Harriet--the one
from Belvoir, in which I told you I had been strongly minded to write to
you _first_--you do not seem to me quite to believe in the existence of
such an intention. Nor was it a "weak thought," but a very decided
purpose, which was frustrated by circumstances for one day, and the next
prevented entirely by the arrival of your letter. However, no matter for
all that now; hear other things.

You ask after "Figaro" [Mozart's opera of "Le Nozze di Figaro," then
being given at Covent Garden, my sister singing the part of Susanna]. It
draws very fine houses, and Adelaide's acting in it is very much liked
and praised, as it highly deserves to be, for it is capital, very funny,
and _fine_ in its fun, which makes good comedy--a charming thing, and a
vastly more difficult one, in my opinion, than any tragic acting

Your boots have been sent safe and sound, my dear, and are in the
custody of a person who, I verily believe, thinks me incapable of taking
care of anything in the world, and has the same amount of confidence in
my understanding that a friend of mine (a clergyman of the Church of
England) expressed in his mother's honesty, "I wouldn't trust her with
a bad sixpence round the corner." However, your boots, as I said, are
safe, and will reach your hands (or feet, I should rather say) in due
course of time, I have no doubt.

I have had two letters from America lately, the last of them containing
much news about the movements of the abolitionists, in which its writer
takes great interest. Among other things, she mentions that an address
had been published to the slaves, by Gerrit Smith, exhorting them to run
away, to use all means to do so, to do so at any risk, and also by all
means and at any risk to learn to read. By all means, he advises them,
in no case to use violence, or carry off property of their masters'
(except indeed themselves, whom their masters account very valuable
property). I should have told you that Gerrit Smith himself was a large
slave-holder, that he has given up all his property, renounced his home
in the South (where, indeed, if he was to venture to set foot, he would
be murdered in less than an hour). He lives at the North, in comparative
poverty and privation, having given up his wealth for conscience' sake.
I saw him once at Lucretia Mott's. He was a man of remarkable
appearance, with an extremely sweet and noble countenance. He is one of
the "confessors" in the martyr-age of America.

I am much concerned at your account of E----, for though sprains and
twists and wrenches are not uncommon accidents, I have always much more
dread of them than of a _bonâ_ (bony) _fide_ fracture. I always fear
some injury may be lodged in the system by such apparently lesser
casualties, that may not reveal itself till long after the real cause is

I must end this letter, for I have delayed it too shamefully long, and
you must think me more abominable than ever, in spite of which I am

                              Your most affectionate

                                       CRANFORD HOUSE, April 17th, 1842.

I put a letter into the post for you, my dearest Harriet, this
afternoon. This is all I was able to write to you yesterday--Wednesday;
and now it is Thursday evening, and there is every prospect of my having
leisure to finish my letter.

Emily has asked me several times to come and spend the evening with her
mother, and I have promised her each time that the first evening....

Thus far last night, my dear--that is to say, Thursday evening. It is
now Friday evening, and the long and the short of the story was that
Emily dined out, Mrs. FitzHugh _teaed_ with the Miss Hamiltons, my party
went to Drury Lane, and I passed the evening alone; and the reason why
this letter was not finished during that lonely evening, my dear, was
that I was sitting working worsted-work for Emily in the parlor
downstairs when my people all went away, and after they were gone I was
seized with a perfect nervous panic, a "Good" fever, and could not bring
myself to stir from the chair where they had left me. As to going up
into the drawing-room, it was out of the question; I fancied every step
of the stairs would have morsels of flesh lying on it, and the banisters
would be all smeared with blood and hairs. In short, I had a fit of the
horrors, and sat the whole blessed evening working heart's ease into
Emily's canvas, in a perfect nightmare of horrible fancies. At one
moment I had the greatest mind in the world to send for a cab, and go to
Covent Garden Theatre, and sit in Adelaide's dressing-room; but I was
ashamed to give way to my nerves in that cowardly fashion, and certainly
passed a most miserable evening.... However, let me leave last night and
its horrors, and make haste to answer your questions....

Another pause, dear Harriet, and here I am at this picturesque old
place, Cranford House, paying another visit to ----'s _venerable_
friend, old Lady Berkeley. I have been taking a long walk this morning
with Lady ----, whose London fine-ladyism gave way completely in these
old walks of her early home, to which all the family appear extremely
attached. Her unfeigned delight at the primroses, oxlips, wild cherry
bloom, and varying greens of the spring season made me think that her
lament was not applicable to herself, just then, at any rate. "What a
pity," cried she, "it is that one cannot be regenerated as the earth is
every spring!" _She_ seemed to me to be undergoing a very pretty process
of regeneration even while she spoke. It is touching to observe natural
character and the lingering traces of early impressions surviving under
the overlaying of the artificial soil and growth of after years of
society and conventional worldly habits. She pointed out to me a
picturesque, pretty object in the grounds, over which she moralized with
a good deal of enthusiasm and feeling--an old, old fir-tree, one of the
cedar tribe, a tree certainly many more than a hundred years old, whose
drooping lower branches absolutely lie upon the lawn for yards all round
it. One of these boughs has struck into the ground, and grown up into a
beautiful young tree, already twelve or fourteen feet high, and the
contrast between the vivid coloring and erect foliage of this young
thing, and the rusty, dusky green, drooping branches of the enormous
tree, which seems to hang over and all round it, with parental
tenderness, is quite exquisite. One of them, however, must,
nevertheless, destroy or be destroyed by the other; a very pretty
vegetable version of the ancient classical, family fate,

Pray, if you know how flowers propagate, write me word. In gathering
primroses this morning, Lady ---- and I exercised our ignorance in all
sorts of conjectures upon the subject, neither of us being botanists,
though she knew, which I did not, the male from the female flowers.

I get a good deal of sleep since you have gone away, as I certainly do
not sit up talking half the night with anybody else. But as for enough,
is there such a thing as enough sleep? and was anybody ever known to
have had it? and who was he or she?

I have had two long letters from Elizabeth Sedgwick, containing much
matter about the abolitionists, in whose movements, you know, she is
deeply interested; also more urgent entreaties that I will "use my
influence" to secure our return home in the autumn!...

My father appears to be quite well, and in a state of great pleasurable
excitement and activity of mind, having (alas! I regret to say) accepted
once more the management of Covent Garden, which is too long a story to
begin just at the end of my paper; but he is in the theatre from morning
till night, as happy as the gods, and apparently, just now, as free from
all mortal infirmity. It is amazing, to be sure, what the revival of the
one interest of his life has done for his health.

I went to the Portland Street Chapel last Sunday, and heard a sermon
upon my peculiar virtue, _humility_, not from the same clergyman we
heard together; and S----, who is too funny, sang the Psalms so loud
that I had to remonstrate with her.

                              Ever yours,
                                                                F. A. B.

    [A horrible murder had just been committed by a miserable man of the
    name of Good, who endeavored to conceal his crime by cutting to
    pieces and scattering in different directions the mangled remains of
    his victim--a woman. The details of these horrors filled the public
    papers, and were the incessant subject of discussion in society, and
    were calculated to produce an impression of terror difficult to
    shake off even by so little nervous a person as myself.

    The Countess of Berkeley, to whom I have alluded in this letter, was
    a woman whose story was a singular romance, which now may be said to
    belong to "ancient history." She was the daughter of a butcher of
    Gloucester, and an extremely beautiful person. Mr. Henry Berkeley,
    the fifth son of Lady Berkeley, for many years Member of Parliament
    for Bristol, and as many years the persistent advocate of the system
    of voting by ballot, travelled and resided for some time in America,
    and formed a close intimacy with ----, who, when we came to England,
    accepted Mr. Berkeley's invitation to visit his mother at Cranford,
    and took me with him, to make the acquaintance of this remarkable
    old lady. She was near eighty years old, tall and stately, with no
    apparent infirmities, and great remains of beauty. There was great
    originality in all she said, and her manner was strikingly energetic
    for so old a woman. I remember, one day after dinner, she had her
    glass filled with claret till the liquid appeared to form a rim
    above the vessel that contained it, and, raising it steadily to her
    lips, looked round the table, where sat all her children but Lord
    Fitzhardinge, and saying, "God bless you all," she drank off the
    contents without spilling a drop, and, replacing the glass on the
    table, said, "Not one of my sons could do that."

    One morning, when I was rather indisposed, and unable to join any of
    the parties into which the guests had divided themselves on their
    various quests after amusement, I was left alone with Lady Berkeley,
    and she undertook to give me a sketch of her whole history; and very
    strange it was. She gave me, of course, her own version of the
    marriage story, and I could not but wonder whether she might have
    persuaded herself into believing it true, when she wound up her
    curious and interesting account of her life by saying, "And now I am
    ready to be carried to my place in the vault, and my place in the
    vault is ready for me" (she pointed to the church which adjoined the
    old mansion); "and I have the key of it here," and she gave a hearty
    slap upon her pocket. She told me of her presentation at Court, and
    the uproar it occasioned among the great ladies there, whose
    repugnance to admit her of their number she described with much
    humor, but attributed solely to the fact of her plebeian descent, of
    which she spoke unhesitatingly.

    The impression I gathered from her narrative, rather unconsciously
    on her part I suspect, was that the Queen, whose strictness upon the
    subject of reputation was well known, objected to receiving her
    (Lady Berkeley called her, rather disrespectfully, "Old Charlotte"
    all the time, but spoke of George III. as "the King"), but was
    overruled by the King, who had a personal friendship for Lord

    The strangest thing in her whole account of herself, however, was
    the details she gave me of her singular power over her husband. She
    said that in a very few years after their marriage (by courtesy) she
    perceived that her husband's affairs were in the most deplorable
    state of derangement: that he gambled, that he was over head and
    ears in debt, that he never had a farthing of ready money, that his
    tenantry were worse off than any other in the country, that his
    agents and bailiffs and stewards were rogues who ground them and
    cheated him, that his farmers were careless and incompetent, and
    that the whole of his noble estate appeared to be going
    irretrievably to ruin; when the earl complaining one day bitterly of
    this state of things, for which he knew no remedy, she told him that
    she would find the remedy, and undertake to recover what was lost
    and redeem what remained, if he would give her absolute
    discretionary power to deal with his property as she pleased, and
    not interfere with her management of it for a whole year. He agreed
    to this, but, not satisfied with his promise, she made him bind
    himself by oath and, moreover, execute documents, giving her legal
    power enabling her to act independently of him in all matters
    relating to his estate. The earl not unnaturally demurred, but at
    length yielded, only stipulating that she should always be prepared
    to furnish him with money whenever he wanted it. She bound herself
    to do this, and received regular powers from him for the
    uninterrupted management of his property and administration of his
    affairs for a whole year. She immediately set about her various
    plans of reform, and carried them on vigorously and successfully,
    without the slightest interference on the part of her dissipated and
    careless husband, who had entirely forgotten the whole compact
    between them. Some months after the agreement had gone into effect,
    she perceived that he was harassed and disturbed about something,
    and questioning him, found he had incurred a heavy gambling debt,
    which he knew not how to meet. His surprise was extreme when,
    recalling the terms of their mutual agreement, she put him in
    possession of the sum he required. "He called me an angel," she
    said. "You see, my dear, one is always an angel, when one holds the
    strings of the purse, and that there is money in it."

    She persevered in her twelvemonth's stewardship, and at the end of
    that time had redeemed her word, and relieved her husband's estate
    from its most pressing embarrassments. The value of the land had
    increased; the condition of the tenantry had improved; intelligent
    and active farmers had had the farms rented to them, instead of the
    previous sleepy set of incumbents; and finally, a competent and
    honest agent, devoted to carry out her views, was placed over the
    whole. The property never fell from this highly prosperous
    condition, for Lord Berkeley never withdrew it from his wife's
    supervision; and she continued to administer his affairs till his
    death, and maintained an extraordinary influence over all the
    members of her family at the time of my acquaintance with her. They
    were all rather singular persons, and had a vein of originality
    which made them unlike the people one met in common society. I
    suppose their mother's unusual character may have had to do with

    Lord Fitzhardinge was never at Cranford when I was there, though I
    have, at various times, met all the other brothers.

    Frederick Berkeley went into the navy, and rose to the important
    position of an admiral; Craven Berkeley, Grantley Berkeley, and
    Henry Berkeley were all in Parliament. The latter was for many
    years Member for the important constituency of Bristol, and,
    probably in consequence of opinions acquired during his residence in
    the United States, was a consistent advocate for the introduction of
    vote by ballot in our elections. This gentleman was an unusually
    accomplished person: he had made preparatory studies for two
    professions, the Church and the Bar; but though he embraced neither
    career (possibly on account of an accident he met with while
    hunting, which crippled him for life), the reading he had gone
    through for both had necessarily endowed him with a more than common
    degree of mental cultivation. He was an excellent musician, played
    on the piano and organ with considerable taste and feeling, and had
    a much more thorough acquaintance with the science of music than is
    usual in an amateur.

    Morton Berkeley sought no career; he lived with his mother and
    sister, Lady Mary, at Cranford, his principal pleasure and
    occupation being the preservation of the game on the estate--an
    object of not very easy accomplishment, owing to the proximity of
    Cranford to London, the distance being only twelve miles by
    railroad, and the facilities thus offered of escape and impunity to
    poachers necessarily considerable. The tract immediately round
    Cranford was formerly part of the famous, or rather infamous,
    Hounslow Heath; and I have heard Mr. Henry Berkeley say that in his
    youth he remembered perfectly, when he went to London with his
    father, by day or night, loaded pistols were an invariable part of
    the carriage furniture.

    My first acquaintance with Mr. Morton Berkeley's devotion to the
    duties of a gamekeeper was made in a very singular manner, and
    accompanied by a revelation of an unexpected piece of sentiment.

    ---- and myself were visiting at Cranford on one occasion, when the
    only strangers there beside ourselves were Lady C----, Lord and Lady
    S----, and Lord F---- and his sister, a lady of some pretensions to
    beauty, but still more to a certain fashionable elegance of
    appearance, much enhanced by her very Parisian elaborateness of

    One night, when the usual hour for retiring had come, the ladies,
    who always preceded the gentlemen by some hours to their sleeping
    apartments, had left the large room on the ground-floor, where we
    had been spending the evening. As we ascended the stairs, my
    attention was attracted by some articles of dress which lay on one
    of the window-seats: a heavy, broad-brimmed hat, a large rough
    pea-jacket, and a black leather belt and cutlass--a sort of
    coastguard costume which, lying in that place, excited my curiosity.
    I stopped to examine them, and Lady Mary exclaiming, "Oh, those are
    Morton's night-clothes; he puts them on when everybody is gone to
    bed, to go and patrol with the gamekeeper round the place. _Do_ put
    them on for fun;" she seized them up and began accoutring me in

    When I was duly enveloped in these very peculiar trappings, we all
    burst into fits of laughter, and it was instantly proposed that we
    should all return to the drawing-room, I marching at their head in
    my gamekeeper's costume. Without further consideration, I ran
    downstairs again, followed by the ladies, and so re-entered the
    room, where the gentlemen were still assembled in common council,
    and where our almost immediate return in this fashion was hailed by
    a universal shout of surprise and laughter. After standing for a
    minute, with a huge rough overcoat over my rose-colored satin and
    _moiré_ skirts, which made a most ludicrous termination to the
    pugnacious habit of my upper woman, I plunged my hand into one of
    the pockets, and drew forth a pair of hand-cuffs (a prudent
    provision in case of an encounter with poachers). Encouraged by the
    peals of merriment with which this discovery was greeted, I thrust
    my other hand into the other pocket, when Mr. Morton Berkeley,
    without uttering a word, rushed at me, and, seizing me by the wrist,
    prevented my accomplishing my purpose. The suddenness of this
    movement frightened me at first a good deal. Presently, however, my
    emotion changed, and I felt nothing but amazement at being thus
    unceremoniously seized hold of, and rage at finding that I could not
    extricate myself from the grasp that held me. Like a coward and a
    woman, I appealed to all the other gentlemen, but they were laughing
    so excessively that they were quite unable to help me, and probably
    anticipated no great mischief from Mr. Berkeley's proceeding. I was
    almost crying with mortification, and actually drew the cutlass and
    threatened to cut the fingers that encircled my wrist like one of
    the iron handcuffs, but, finding my captor inexorable, I was
    obliged, with extreme sulky confusion, to beg to be let go, and
    promise to take the coat off without any further attempts to search
    the pockets. I divested myself of my borrowed apparel a great deal
    faster than I had put it on, and its owner walked off with the
    pea-jacket, the right pocket of which remained unexplored. We ladies
    withdrew again, rather crestfallen at the termination of our joke, I
    rubbing my wrist like Mary Stuart after her encounter with Lord
    Ruthven, and wondering extremely what could be the mysterious
    contents of that pocket.

    The next day Lady Mary told me that her brother had long cherished a
    romantic sort of idolatry for Miss F----, and that, as a pendant to
    the handcuffs in one pocket of his dreadnought, the other contained
    her miniature, which he dreaded the night before that my
    indiscretion would produce, to the derision of the men, the distress
    and confusion of the young lady herself, and the possible
    displeasure of her brother. Mr. Morton Berkeley's manners to me
    after that were again, as they always had been, respectful and
    rather reserved; the subject of our "fight" was never again alluded
    to, and he remained to me a gentle, shy, courteous (and romantic)

    He was habitually silent, but when he did speak, he was very apt to
    say something apposite, and generally containing the pith of the
    matter under discussion. I remember once, when I was reproaching his
    brother Henry and his sister with what I thought the unbecoming
    manner in which they criticised the deportment and delivery of a
    clergyman whose sermon they had just listened to (and who certainly
    was rather an unfortunate specimen of outward divinity), Mr. Morton
    Berkeley suddenly turned to me, and said, "Why, Mrs. Butler, he is
    only the rusty bars the light shines through"--a quotation, in fact,
    but a very apposite one, and I am not sure but that it was an
    unconscious one, and an original illustration on his part.

    Mr. Thomas Duncombe, the notorious Radical Member for Finsbury, very
    generally and very disrespectfully designated in the London society
    of his day as "Tommy Duncombe," and Mr. Maxse (Lady Caroline
    Berkeley's husband), were also among the persons with whom I became
    acquainted at Cranford.

    Of a curious feat of charioteership performed by the latter
    gentleman I was told once by the Duke of Beaufort, who said he had
    derived from it the nickname of "Go-along Maxse." Driving late one
    night with a friend on a turnpike road after the gates were closed,
    he said to his companion, "Now, if the turnpike we are just coming
    to is shut, I'll take the horse and gig over the gate." The gig was
    light, the horse powerful and swift. As they bowled along and came
    in sight of the gate, they perceived that it was closed; when Mr.
    Maxse's companion calling out to him, "Go-along, Maxse," that
    gentleman fulfilled his threat or promise, whichever it might be,
    and put his horse full at the gate, which the gallant creature
    cleared, bringing the carriage and its live freight safe to the
    ground on the other side; a feat which I very unintentionally
    imitated, in a humble degree, many years after, with an impunity my
    carelessness certainly did not deserve.

    Driving in a state of considerable mental preoccupation out of my
    own gate one day at Lenox, in a very light one-horse "wagon" (as
    such vehicles are there called), instead of turning my horse's head
    either up or down the road, I let him go straight across it, to the
    edge of a tolerably wide dry ditch, when, suddenly checking him, the
    horse, who was a saddle-horse and a good leaper, drew himself
    together, and took the ditch, with me in the carriage behind him,
    and brought up against a fence, where there was just room for him to
    turn round, which he immediately did, as if aware of his mistake,
    and proceeded to leap back again, quite successfully without any
    assistance of mine, I being too much amazed at the whole performance
    to do anything but sit still and admire my horse's dexterity.

    I have adverted to the still existing industry of "gentlemen of the
    road," in speaking of Cranford in the days of the Earl of Berkeley,
    who used to take pistols in the carriage when he went to London. On
    one occasion, when he was riding, unattended but fortunately not
    unarmed, over some part of Hounslow Heath, a highwayman rode up to
    him, and, saluting him by name, said, "I know, my lord, you have
    sworn never to give in to one of us; but now I mean to try if you're
    as good as your word." "So I have, you rascal, but there are two of
    you here," replied the earl. The robber, thrown off his guard,
    looked round for the companion thus indicated, and Lord Berkeley
    instantly shot him through the head; owing it to his ready presence
    of mind that he escaped a similar fate at the hands of his

    My mother, I think, had the advantage of a slight personal
    acquaintance with one of the very last of these Tyburn heroes. She
    lived at one time, before her marriage, with her mother and sisters
    and only brother, at a small country house beyond Finchley; to which
    suburban, or indeed then almost entirely rural, retreat my father
    and other young men of her acquaintance used occasionally to resort
    for an afternoon's sport, in the present highly distinguished
    diversion of pigeon-shooting. On one of these occasions some one of
    her habitual guests brought with him a friend, who was presented to
    my mother, and joined in the exercise of skill. He was like a
    gentleman in his appearance and manners, with no special peculiarity
    but remarkably white and handsome hands and extraordinary dexterity,
    or luck, in pigeon-shooting. Captain Clayton was this individual's
    name, and his visit, never repeated to my mother's house, was
    remembered as rather an agreeable event. Soon after this several
    outrages were committed on the high-road which passed through
    Finchley; and Moody, the celebrated comic actor, who lived in that
    direction, was stopped one evening, as he was driving himself into
    town, by a mounted gentleman, who, addressing him politely by name,
    demanded his watch and purse, which Moody surrendered, under the
    influence of "the better part of valor." Having done so, however, he
    was obliged to request his "very genteel" thief to give him enough
    money to pay his turnpike on his way into town, where he was going
    to act, whereupon the "gentleman of the road" returned him
    half-a-crown, and bade him a polite "Good-evening." Some time after
    this, news was brought into Covent Garden, at rehearsal one morning,
    that a man arrested for highway robbery was at the Bow Street Police
    Office, immediately opposite the theatre. Several of the _corps
    dramatique_ ran across the street to that famous vestibule of the
    Temple of Themis; among others, Mr. Moody and Vincent de Camp. The
    latter immediately recognized my mother's white-handed,
    gentleman-like pigeon-shooter, and Moody his obliging MacHeath of
    the Finchley Common highway. "Halloa! my fine fellow," said the
    actor to the thief, "is that you? Well, perhaps as you _are_ here,
    you won't object to return me my watch, for which I have a
    particular value, and which won't be of any great use to you now, I
    suppose." "Lord love ye, Mr. Moody," replied _Captain Clayton_, with
    a pleasant smile, "I thought you were come to pay me the half crown
    I lent you."]

                                HARLEY STREET, Friday, April 22nd, 1842.
  MY DEAR T----,

_I_ am not in the least indifferent to the advent of £100 sterling....

I am amused with your description of Dickens, because it tallies so
completely with the first impression he made upon me the only time I
ever met him before he went to America.... I admire and love the man
exceedingly, for he has a deep warm heart, a noble sympathy with and
respect for human nature, and great intellectual gifts wherewith to make
these fine moral ones fruitful for the delight and consolation and
improvement of his fellow-beings.

Lord Morpeth is indeed, as we say, another guessman, but quite one of
the most amiable in this world or _that_. He is universally beloved and
respected, so tenderly cherished, by his own kindred that his mother and
sisters seem absolutely miserable with various anxieties about him, and
the weariness of his prolonged absence. He is a most worthy gentleman,
and "goes nigh to be thought so" by all classes here, I can tell you....

You ask me if I have any warmer friends in England than your people, who
are certainly my warmest friends in America. I have some friends in my
own country who have known and loved me longer than your family; but I
do not think, with one or two exceptions, that they love me better, nor
do I reckon upon the faith and affection of my American friends less
than upon that of my English ones. But the number of people whom I
entirely love and trust is very small anywhere, and yet large enough to
make me thank God every day for the share He has given me of worthy
friendships--treasures sufficient for me to account myself very rich in
their possession; living springs of goodness and affection, in which my
spirit finds never-failing refreshment. But I have in my own country a
vast number of very kind and cordial acquaintances, and, to tell you the
truth, am better understood (naturally) and better liked in society, I
think, here than on your side of the water. I fancy I am more popular,
upon the whole, among my own people than among yours; which is not to
be wondered at, as difference is almost always an element of dislike,
and, of course, I am more different from American than English people.
Indeed, I have come to consider the difference of nationality a broader,
stronger, and deeper difference than that produced by any mere
dissimilarity of individual character. It is tantamount to looking at
everything from another point of view; to having, from birth and through
education, other standards; to having, in short, another intellectual
and moral horizon. No personal unlikeness between two individuals of the
same nation, however strong it may be in certain points, is equal to the
entire unlikeness, fundamental, superficial, and thorough, of two people
of different nations.

I am anxious to close this letter before I go out, and shall only add,
in replying to your next question of whether I ever feel any desire to
return to the stage, _Never_.... My very nature seems to me dramatic. I
cannot speak without gesticulating and making faces, any more than an
Italian can; I am fond, moreover, of the excitement of _acting_,
personating interesting characters in interesting situations, giving
vivid expression to vivid emotion, realizing in my own person noble and
beautiful imaginary beings, and _uttering the poetry of Shakespeare_.
But the stage is not only this, but much more that is not this; and that
much more is not only by no means equally agreeable, but positively
odious to me, and always was.

Good-by. God bless you and yours.

                              Believe me always yours most truly,
                                                           FANNY BUTLER.

                                           HARLEY STREET, May 1st, 1842.

I have just despatched a letter to Emily, from whom I I have had two
already since she reached Bannisters. She writes chiefly of her mother,
whose efforts to bear her trial are very painful to poor Emily, whose
fewer years and excellent mental habits render such exertions easier to
her. To no one can self-control under such sorrow ever be easy.

You ask about my going to the Drawing-room, which happened thus: The
Duke of Rutland dined some little time ago at the Palace, and, speaking
of the late party at Belvoir, mentioned me, when the Queen asked why I
didn't have myself presented. The duke called the next day at our house,
but we did not see him, and he being obliged to go out of town, left a
message for me with Lady Londonderry, to the effect that her Majesty's
interest about me (curiosity would have been the more exact word, I
suspect) rendered it imperative that I should go to the Drawing-room;
and, indeed, Lady Londonderry's authoritative "Of course you'll go,"
given in her most _gracious_ manner, left me no doubt whatever as to my
duty in that respect, especially as the message duly delivered by her
was followed up by a letter from the duke, from Newmarket, who, from the
midst of his bets, handicaps, sweepstakes, and cups, wrote me over again
all that he had bid the marchioness tell me. Wherefore, having no
objection whatever to go to Court (except, indeed, the expense of my
dress, the idea of which caused me no slight trepidation, as I had
already exceeded my year's allowance), I referred the matter to my
supreme authority, and it being settled that I was to go, I ordered my
tail, and my top, train, and feathers, and went. And this is the whole
story, with this postscript, that, not owning a single diamond, I hired
a handsome set for the occasion from Abud and Collingwood, every single
stone of which darted a sharp point of nervous anxiety into my brain and
bosom the whole time I wore them.

As you know that I would not go to the end of the street to see a
drawing-room full of full moons, you will easily believe that there was
nothing particularly delightful to me in the occasion. But after all, it
was very little more of an exertion than I make five nights of the week,
in going to one place or another; and under the circumstances it was
certainly fitting and proper that I should go.

I suffered agonies of nervousness, and, I rather think, did all sorts of
awkward things; but so, I dare say, do other people in the same
predicament, and I did not trouble my head much about my various
_mis_-performances. One thing, however, I can tell you: if her Majesty
has seen me, I have not seen her; and should be quite excusable in
cutting her wherever I met her. "A cat may look at _a_ king," it is
said; but how about looking at _the_ Queen? In great uncertainty of mind
on this point, I did not look at my sovereign lady. I kissed a soft
white hand, which I believe was hers; I saw a pair of very handsome
legs, in very fine silk stockings, which I am convinced were not hers,
but am inclined to attribute to Prince Albert; and this is all I
perceived of the whole royal family of England, for I made a sweeping
courtesy to the "good remainders of the Court," and came away with no
impression but that of a crowded mass of full-dressed confusion, and
neither know how I got in nor out of it....

You ask about Liszt. He does not take the management of the German
Opera, as was expected; indeed, I wonder he ever accepted such an
employment. I should think him most unfit to manage such an undertaking,
with his excitable temper and temperament. I do not know whether he will
come to London at all this season. Adelaide has been bitterly
disappointed about it, and said that she had reckoned upon him in great
measure for the happiness of her whole summer....

You ask next in your category of questions after Adelaide's dog, and
whether it is led in a string successfully yet; and thereby hangs a
tale. T'other morning she was awakened by a vehement knocking at her
door, and S---- exclaiming, in a loud and solemn voice, "Adelaide, thy
maid and thy dog are in a fit together!" which announcement she
continued to repeat, with more and more emphasis, till my sister, quite
frightened, jumped out of bed, and came upon the stairs, where she
beheld the two women and children just come in from their walk; Anne,
looking over the banisters with her usual peculiar air of immovable
dignity, slowly ejaculating, "What a fool the girl is!" Caroline
followed in her wake, wringing her hands, and alternately shrieking and
howling, like all the Despairs in the universe. It was long before
anything could be distinguished of articulate speech, among the
fräulein's howls and shrieks; but at length it appeared that she had
taken "die Tine" out in the Regent's Park with Anne and the children,
who now go out directly after their breakfast. Tiny, it seems, enjoyed
the trip amazingly, and became so excited and so very much transported
with what we call animal spirits in human beings that it began to run,
as the fräulein thought, away. Whereupon the fräulein began to run after
it; whereupon Tiny, when it heard this Dutch nymph heavy in hot pursuit,
ran till it knocked its head against a keeper's lodge, and here, because
it shook and trembled and stared, probably at its own unwonted
performance, a sympathizing crowd collected, who instantly proclaimed it
at first in a _conwulsion_ fit, and then decidedly mad. Water was
offered it, which it only stared at and shook its head, evidently
dreading the cleansing element. A policeman coming by immediately
proposed to kill it. This, however, the fräulein objected to; and
catching the bewildered quadruped in her arms, she set off home,
escorted by a running mob of sympathetic curiosity. But about half-way
the struggle between herself and "die Tine" became so terrific that it
ended by the luckless little brute escaping from her, and precipitating
itself down an area, where it remained, invoking heaven with howls,
while Caroline ran howling down the street. The man-servant was then
sent (twice with a wrong direction) to fetch the poor little creature
up, and bring it home. At length Caroline accompanied the footman to the
scene of the dog-astrophe (you wouldn't call it _cat_-astrophe, would
you?), and "die Tine" was safely lodged in the back-yard here, where,
being left alone and not bothered with human solicitude, it presently
recovered as many small wits as it ever had, drank voluntarily plenty of
water, and gave satisfactory signs of being quite as rational as any
lady's little dog need be; but the fräulein protests she will never take
"die Tine" out walking again.

Good-bye dear. God bless you. I am pretty well, if that comports with
low spirits and terrible nervous irritability.

                              Yours ever,

My father desires his love to you.

                                   HARLEY STREET, Friday, May 6th, 1842.

I did ask Emily my botanical questions, but she could tell me no more
than you have done, and knew nothing special about the primroses.

You ask me a great deal in your letter about my father again taking the
management of Covent Garden, and on what terms he has done so; all which
I have told you in the letter I have just despatched to you....

Adelaide has repeatedly said that, as soon as she has realized three
hundred a year, she will give up the whole business; and I comfort
myself with that purpose of hers; for if at the conclusion of next
season she will go to America for a year, she will more than realize the
result she proposes to herself.... I cannot, however, help fearing that
obstacles may arise to prevent her eventually fulfilling her purpose
when the time comes for her retiring, according to her present
expectation and wish....

I have not been out a great deal lately, We seem a little less inclined
to fly at all quarry than last season; and as I never decide whether we
shall accept the invitations that come or not, I am very well pleased
that some of them are declined. I believe I told you that Lady
Londonderry had asked us to a magnificent ball. This I was rather sorry
to refuse, as a ball is quite as great a treat to me as to any "young
miss" just coming out. Indeed, I think my capacity of enjoyment and
excitement is greater than that of most "young misses" I see, who not
only talk of being _bored_, but actually contrive, poor creatures! to
look so in the middle of their first season.

I spent two hours with poor Lady Dacre yesterday evening.... After
sitting with her, we went to a large party at Sydney Smith's, where I
was very much amused and pleased, and saw numbers of people that I know
and like--rather.

You ask about my walks.... They are now chiefly confined to my
peregrinations in the Square, measuring the enclosed gravel walks of
which I have already, since your departure, finished the "Mémoires de
l'Enfant du Peuple," and brought myself, _mirabile dictu!_ to within
twenty pages of the end of Mrs. Jameson's book upon Prussian school

I do not think Mr. W---- any authority upon any subject. I consider him
a perfect specimen of a charlatan, and his opinions with regard to
slavery and the abolitionists are particularly little worthy of credit
in my mind, because he _used_ America precisely as an actor would, to
make money wherever he could by his lectures, which he puffed himself,
till he was absolutely laughed at all over the country, and which were,
by the accounts of those who heard them, perfectly shallow and often
quite erroneous as far as regarded the information they pretended to
impart. The Southern States were a lucrative field for his lecturing
speculation; the Northern abolitionists were far from being sufficiently
numerous or influential for it to be worth his while to conciliate them;
and for these reasons I attach little value to his statement upon that
or indeed any other subject.

You ask me what was my impression altogether of the Drawing-room. I
have told you about my own performances there, of which, however, I dare
say I exaggerated the awkwardness to myself. The whole thing wearied me,
just as any other large, overcrowded assembly where I could not sit down
would; and that is the chief impression it has left upon me. I believe I
was flattered by the Queen's expressing any curiosity about me, but I
went simply because I was told it was right that I should do so. I am
always horribly shy, or nervous, or whatever that foolish sensation
ought to be called, at even having to walk across a room full of people;
and therefore the fuss and to-do and ceremonial of the presentation
(particularly not having been very well drilled beforehand by Lady
Francis, who presented me) were disagreeable to me; but I have retained
no impression of the whole thing other than of a very large and
fatiguing rout. We are advised to go again on the birthday, but that I
am sure we shall not do; and now that the Queen--God bless her!--has
perceived that I do not go upon all-fours, but am indeed, as Bottom
says, "a woman like any other woman," I have no doubt her gracious
Majesty is abundantly satisfied with what she saw of me.

Good-bye, dearest Harriet.

                              Ever yours,
                                                                F. A. B.

    [The enthusiastic abolitionist, Mrs. Lydia Child, had written to me,
    requesting me to give her for publication some portions of the
    journal I had kept during my residence in Georgia; and I had
    corresponded with my friend Mrs. Charles Sedgwick upon the subject,
    deciding to refuse her request. My Georgia journal never saw the
    light till the War of Secession was raging in America, and almost
    all the members of the society in which I was then living in England
    were strongly sympathizing with the Southern cause, when I thought
    it right to state what, according to my own observation and
    experience, that cause involved.]

                                           HARLEY STREET, May 6th, 1842.

The carriage is waiting to take ---- to the _Levée_, and I am waiting
till it comes back to go upon my thousand and one daily errands.
Adelaide, it being her last day at home, appears anxious to enjoy as
much as she can of my society, and has therefore gone fast asleep in the
arm-chair by the table at which I am writing, and has expressed her
intention of coming out and paying visits with me this morning. She
starts at eight o'clock this evening, and will reach Birmingham, I
believe, about one. This arrangement, which I should think detestable,
pleases her very much....

Mr. Everett, our friend, presents ----, and I thought Anne would have
fallen down in a fit when she heard that the ceremony consisted in going
down on one knee and kissing the Queen's hand. She did not mind my doing
it the least in the world, but her indignation has been unbounded at the
idea of a free-born American citizen submitting to such degradation.
Poor thing! "Lucifer, son of the morning," was meek and humble to her.

We dined to-day with the Francis Egertons, to meet the young Guardsmen
who are to form our _corps dramatique_ for "The Hunchback," which, you
know, we are going to act in private. To-morrow evening we go to Sydney
Smith's, and on Monday down to Oatlands for a few days. I am always
delighted in that place and the lovely wild country round it. Lady
Francis will mount me, and I expect my old enjoyment in riding about
those beautiful and well-remembered haunts with her....

There has been a grand row at the Italian Opera-House, among the
managers, singers, and singeresses. Mario (Mons. Di Candia; I suppose
you know who I mean) has, it seems, for some reason or other, been
_discharged_. Madame Grisi, who sympathizes with him, refuses to uplift
her voice, that being the case; the new singeress, Frezzolini, does not
please at all; and the new singer, Rouconi, isn't allowed by his wife to
sing with any woman but herself, and she is a perfect _dose_ to the poor
audience. Lumley, the solicitor, manager of these he and she divinities,
declares that if they don't behave better he'll shut the theatre at the
end of the week. In the mean time, underhand proposals have been made to
Adelaide to stop the gap, and sing for a few nights for them--a sort of
proposal which does not suit her, which she has scornfully rejected, and
departed with her tail over her shoulder, leaving the behind scenes of
Her Majesty's Theatre with their tails between their legs....

My dearest Harriet, you ask me if I do not think the spirit of
martyrdom is often alloyed with self-esteem and wilfulness. God alone
knows the measure in which human infirmity and human virtue unite in
inducing the sacrifice of life and all that life loves for a point of
opinion. I confess, for my own part, self-esteeming and wilful as I am,
that to suffer bodily torture for the sake of an abstract question of
what one believes to be right is an effort of courage so much above any
that I am capable of that I do not feel as if I had a right to
undervalue it by the smallest doubt cast upon the merit of those who
have shown themselves capable of it. It may be that, without such
admixture of imperfection as human nature's highest virtues are still
tinged with, the confessors of every good and noble cause would have
left unfulfilled their heroic task of witnessing to the truth by their
death; but if indeed base alloy did mingle with their great and
conscientious sacrifice, let us hope that the pangs of physical torture,
the anguish of injustice and ignominy, and the rending asunder of all
the ties of earthly affection, may have been some expiation for the
imperfection of their most perfect deed....

Will you, my dear, be so good as to remember what a hang-nail is like?
or a grain of dust in your eye? or a blister on your heel? or a corn on
your toe? and then reflect what the word "torture" implies, when it
meant all that the most devilish cruelty could invent. Savonarola! good
gracious me! I would have _canted_ and _re_canted, and called black
white, and white black, and confessed, and denied! Please don't think of
it! God be praised, those days are over! Not but what I edified Mr.
Combe greatly once, when I was a girl, by declaring that if, by behaving
well under torture, I could have vexed my tormentors very much, and if I
might have had plenty of people to see how well I behaved, I thought I
could have managed it; to which he replied, "Oh, weel now, Fanny, ye've
just got the very spirit of a martyr in you." See if that theory of the
matter answers your notion....

You ask me how I managed about diamonds to go to Court in. I hired a
set, which I also wore at the _fête_ at Apsley House; they were only a
necklace and earrings, which I wore as a bandeau, stitched on scarlet
velvet, and as drops in the middle of scarlet velvet bows in my hair,
and my dress being white satin and point lace, trimmed with white Roman
pearls, it all looked nice enough. The value of the jewels was only
£700, but I am sure they gave me £7000 worth of misery; and if her
Majesty had but known the anguish I endured in showing my respect for
her by false appearances, the very least she could have done would have
been to have bought the jewels and given them to me. Madame Dévy made my
Court dress, which was of such material as, you see, I can use when I
play "The Hunchback" at Lady Francis's. I am ruining myself, in spite of
my best endeavors to be economical; but if it is any comfort for you to
know it, my conscience torments me horribly for it....

God bless you. Good-bye, dear.

                              Ever yours affectionately,
                                                                F. A. B.

                                 HARLEY STREET, Saturday, May 7th, 1842.

... What an immense long talk I am having with you this morning, my dear
Hal! I do not believe you are wearied, however; but you will surely
wonder why I did not put all these letters under one cover with the
three sovereign heads on the one packet; and I am sure I don't know why
I have not. But it doesn't matter much my appearing a little more or a
little less absurd to you.

You ask who I shall associate with while ---- and Adelaide are away....
I presume with my own writing-table and the carriage cushions, just as I
do now, just as I did before, and just as I am likely to do

It was not the presence of the Queen that affected my nerves at the
Drawing-room, but _my own_ presence, _i.e._, as the French say, I was
"très embarrassée de ma personne." The uncertainty of what I was to do
(for Lady Francis had been exceedingly succinct in her instructions),
and the certainty of a crowd of people staring all round me,--this, I
think, and not the overpowering sense of a royal human being before me,
was what made me nervous. Were I to go again to a Drawing-room, now that
I know my lesson, I do not think I should suffer at all from any
embarrassment. We are not asked to the fancy ball at the Palace, I am
told, because of our omission in not attending at the Birthday
Drawing-room, which, it seems, is a usual thing after a first
presentation. I should like to have seen it; it will be a fine sight. In
the mean time, as many of our acquaintances are going, we come in for a
full share of the insanity which has taken possession of men's and
women's minds about velvets, satins, brocades, etc. You enter no room
that is not literally _strewed_ with queer-looking prints of costumes;
and before you can say, "How d'ye do?" you are asked which looks best
together, blue and green, or pink and yellow; for, indeed, their
selections are often as outrageous as these would be. I never conceived
people could be so stupid at combining ideas, even upon this least
abstruse of subjects; and you would think, to hear these fine ladies
talk the inanity they do about their own clothes, now they are compelled
to think about them for themselves, that they have no natural
perceptions of even color, form, or proportion. The fact is that even
their _dressing_-brains are turned over to their French milliners and
lady's-maids. I understand Lady A---- says she will make her dress alone
(exclusive of jewels) cost £1000.

Some people say this sort of mad extravagance does good; I cannot think
it. It surely matters comparatively little that the insane luxury of the
self-indulgent feeds the bodies of so many hundred people if at the same
time the mischievous example of their folly and extravagance is
demoralizing their hearts and minds and injuring a great many more.

Touching Lady A----, she gave the address of one of her milliners to
Lady W----, who, complaining to her of the exorbitant prices of this
superlative _faiseuse_, and plaintively stating that she had charged her
fifty guineas for a simple morning dress, Lady A---- replied, "Ah, very
likely, I dare say; I don't know anything about _cheap clothes_."

I do not know where Adelaide is likely to lodge in Dublin, nor do I
believe she knows herself; but before this letter reaches you, you will
have found out. I had almost a mind to ask her to write to me, but then
I knew both how she hates it and how little time she was likely to have,
so I forbore. She has left me with the pleasing expectation that any of
these days her eccentric musical friend Dessauer may walk in, to be by
me received, lodged, entertained, comforted, and consoled, in her
absence (in which case, by-the-by, you know, I should associate with him
while she is away). From parts of his letters which she has read to me,
I feel very much inclined to like him, ... and I imagine I shall find
him very amusing....

You ask about our getting up of "The Hunchback" at the Francis
Egertons'. I forget whether you knew that Horace Wilson [my kind friend
and connection, the learned Oxford Professor of Sanscrit, who to his
many important acquirements and charming qualities added the
accomplishments of a capital musician and first-rate amateur actor] has
been seriously indisposed, and so out of health and spirits as to have
declined the part of Master Walter, which he was to have taken in it.
This has been a great disappointment to me, for he would have done it
admirably, and as he is a person of whom I am very fond, it would have
been agreeable to me to have had him among us, and I should have
particularly liked him for so important a coadjutor. He failing us,
however, Knowles himself has undertaken to play the part, and I shall be
glad enough to do it with him again. I have a great deal of
compassionate admiration for poor Knowles, who, with his undeniable
dramatic genius, his bright fancy, and poetical imagination, will, I
fear, end his days either in a madhouse or a poorhouse. The characters
beside Sir Thomas Clifford and Modus (which you know are taken by Henry
Greville and ----) are filled by a pack of young Guardsmen, with whom I
dined, in order to make acquaintance, at Lady Francis's t'other day. Two
of them, Captain Seymour and a son of Sir Francis Coles, are
acquaintances of yours and your people.

You ask how I am amusing myself. Why, just as usual, which is well
enough. I am of too troubled a nature ever to lack excitement, and have
an advantage over most people in the diversion I am able to draw from
very small sources.

I went last night to the French play, to see a French actress called
Déjazet make her first appearance in London. The house was filled with
our highest aristocracy, the stalls with women of rank and character,
and the performance was, I think, one of the most impudent that I ever
witnessed. Dr. Whewell [the celebrated Master of Trinity] and Mrs.
Whewell were sitting near us, and left the theatre in the middle of
Déjazet's first piece--I suppose from sheer disgust. She is a marvellous
actress, and without exception the most brazen-faced woman I ever
beheld, and that is saying a great deal. Good-bye.

                              Ever your affectionate

                                HARLEY STREET, Saturday, May 14th, 1842.

On my return from Oatlands yesterday, I found no fewer than four letters
of yours, and this morning I have received a fifth.... I am most
thankful for all your details about Adelaide, who, of course, will not
have time to write to any of us herself.... Miss Rainsforth, her mother,
and their travelling manager, Mr. Callcott, are her whole party.... Miss
Rainsforth is a quiet, gentle, well-conducted, well-bred, amiable
person; Mr. Callcott is a son of the composer, and a nephew of our
friend Sir Augustus, and has the refinement of mind and manners which
one would look for in any member of that family.... I am very sorry that
Adelaide cannot see more of you, and you of her....

You ask whether it is a blessing or a curse not to provide one's own
means of subsistence. I think it is a great blessing to be able and
allowed to do so. But I dare say I am not a fair judge of the question,
for the feeling of independence and power consequent upon earning large
sums of money has very much destroyed my admiration for any other mode
of support; and yet certainly my _pecuniary_ position now would seem to
most people very far preferable to my former one; but having _earned_
money, and therefore most legitimately _owned_ it, I never can conceive
that I have any right to the money of another person.... I cannot help
sometimes regretting that I did not reserve out of my former earnings at
least such a yearly sum as would have covered my personal expenses; and
having these notions, which impair the comfort of _being maintained_, I
am sometimes sorry that I no longer possess my former convenient power
of coining. I do not think I should feel so uncomfortable about
inheriting money, though I had not worked for it; for, like any other
free gift, I think I should consider that legitimately my own, just like
any other present that was made me....

"The Hunchback" is to be acted at the Francis Egertons', in London,
though I do not very well see how; for Bridgewater House is in process
of rebuilding, and their present residence in Belgrave Square, though
large enough for all social purposes, is far from being well adapted to
theatrical ones; insomuch--or, rather, so little--that it is my opinion
we shall be in each other's arms, laps, and pockets throughout the
whole performance, which will be inconvenient, and in some of the
situations slightly indecorous.

I have received this morning, my dear, your notice of the "Sonnambula,"
for which we are all very grateful to you. Give my love to my sister. I
expected her success as a matter of course, and did not anticipate much
annoyance to her from her present mode of life, ... because I have known
her derive extreme amusement and diversion from circumstances and
associates that would have been utterly distasteful to me. Her love and
perception of the ridiculous is not only positive enjoyment, but a
protection from annoyance and a mitigation of disgust. My father desires
his love to you, and bids me thank you for your kindness in sending him
the newspapers. With regard to that last song in the "Amina," of which
you speak as of a _tour de force_, it is hardly so much so, in point of
fact, as her execution of the whole part, which is too high for her; and
though she sings it admirably in spite of that, she cannot give it the
power and expression that she would if it lay more easily in her voice.
This, however, is the case with other music that she sings, and the
consequence is that, though she has great execution, and power, and
sweetness, and finish in the use of her artificial voice, it wants the
spontaneous force in high music of a naturally high organ.

Pray, did you ever pity me as much as you do Adelaide in the exercise of
her profession? You certainly never expressed the same amount of
compassion for my strolling destinies, nor did I ever hear you lament in
this kind over the fate of John Kemble and Mrs. Siddons, both of whom
had impertinences addressed to them by your Dublin gallery humorists.
Pray, what is the meaning of this want of feeling on your part for _us
others_, or your excess of it for Adelaide? Is it only singing histrions
who appear to you objects of compassion? Good-bye, dearest Harriet. I
have to write to Emily, and to answer an American clergyman, a friend of
mine, who has written to me from Paris; and moreover, being rather in
want of money, I am about to endeavor to make practicable for the
English stage a French piece called "Mademoiselle de Belle Isle," which,
with certain vicious elements, has some very striking and effective
situations, and is, dramatically speaking, one of the most cleverly
constructed plays I have seen for a long while. Therefore, farewell. If
I could _earn_ £200 now, I should be glad.

                                HARLEY STREET, Thursday, May 19th, 1842.

Thank you, my dearest Harriet, for your long account of Adelaide. She
has written to my father, which I was very glad of.... Of course, I have
not expected to hear from her, but have been delighted to get all your
details. In her letter to my father, she says she gets on extremely well
with her companions, that they are gay and merry, and that her life with
them is pleasant and amuses her very much.

You do not ask me a single question about a single thing, and therefore
I will just tell you how matters in general go on with me. In the first
place, I heard yesterday that we are definitely to return to America in
August. Some attempt was made to renew our lease of this house for a few
months; but difficulties have arisen about it, and we shall probably
return to the United States as soon as possible after our lease expires.
I do not yet feel at all sure of the fulfilment of this intention,
however; but at any rate it is one point of apparent decision

My feelings and thoughts about the return are far too numerous and
various to be contained in a letter. One thing I think--I feel sure
of--_that it is right_, and therefore I am glad we are to do it. My
father, to whom this intention has not yet been mentioned, is looking
wonderfully well, and appears to be enjoying his mode of life extremely.
He spends his days at Covent Garden, and finds even now, when the German
company are carrying on their _opera_tions there, enough to do to keep
him interested and incessantly busy within those charmed and charming
precincts. I am pretty well, though not in very good spirits; my life is
much more quiet and regular than when you were here, and I enjoy a
considerable portion of retiracy.

I have taken possession of Adelaide's little sitting-room, and inhabit
it all day, and very often till tea-time in the evening. Owing to our
day no longer being cut to pieces by our three-o'clock dinner (on
account of Adelaide), I do not run into arrears with my visits, and
generally, after discharging one or two recent debts of that sort, am
able to get an hour's walk in Kensington Gardens, and come home between
four and five o'clock.

We have not been out a great deal lately; we have taken, I am happy to
say, to discriminating a little among our invitations, and no longer
accept everything that offers.

I spent three delightful days at Oatlands, which is charming to me from
its own beauty and the association of the pleasure which I enjoyed there
in past years. The hawthorn was just coming into blossom, the wild
heaths and moors and commons were one sheet of deep golden gorse and
pale golden broom, and nothing could be lovelier than the whole aspect
of the country.

The day before yesterday I dined _tête-à-tête_ with Mademoiselle d'Este,
for whom I have taken rather a fancy, and who appears to have done the
same by me. Her position is a peculiar and trying one, combined with her
character, which has some striking and interesting elements. She is no
longer young, but has still much personal beauty, and that of an order
not common in England: very dark eyes, hair, and complexion, with a
freedom and liveliness of manner and play of countenance quite unusual
in Englishwomen.... She lives a great deal alone, and reads a great
deal, and thinks a little, and I feel interested in her. She has
sacrificed the whole comfort and, it appears to me, much of the possible
happiness of her life to her notion of being a princess, which, poor
thing! she is not; and as she will not be satisfied with, or even
accept, the position of a private gentlewoman, she is perpetually
obliged to devise means of avoiding situations, which are perpetually
recurring, in which her real rank, or rather _no_ rank, is painfully
brought home to her. This unfortunate pretension to princess-ship has
probably interfered vitally with her happiness, in preventing her
marrying, as she considers, below her birth [_i.e._ royally]; and as she
is a very attractive woman, and, I should judge, a person of strong
feelings and a warm, passionate nature, this must have been a
considerable sacrifice; though in marrying, to be sure, she might only
have realized another form of disappointment.

Yesterday we went to a fine dinner at Lord F----'s. He and his sisters
are good-natured young people of large fortune, whose acquaintance we
made at Cranford, and who are very civil and amiable in their
demonstrations of good-will towards us. A son of the Duke of Leinster
was at this dinner, and invited ---- to go with him this morning and
see Prince Albert review the Guards; which he has accordingly done.

To-night we go to Sydney Smith's, which I always enjoy exceedingly; and
for next week, I am happy to say, we have at present no engagements but
a dinner at the Francis Egertons', and another evening at Sydney

I believe I have now told you pretty much all I have to tell. I am
working at a translation of a French piece called "Mademoiselle de Belle
Isle," by which I hope to make a little money, with which I should be
very glad to pay Mademoiselle Dévy's bill for my spring finery.

I went to Covent Garden the other day, to see if I could find anything
in the theatre wardrobe that I could make use of for "The Hunchback,"
and did find something; and, moreover, I think Adelaide will be able to
get her dress for Helen from there, though it seemed rather a doleful
daylight collection of frippery. My first dress I can make one of my own
white muslin ones serve for, my last I shall get beautifully out of my
Court costume; so that the three will only cost me the price of altering
them for the private theatrical occasion.

We met at Oatlands Mrs. G----, the mother of the Member for Dublin, who
has been preparing herself, by a twelve years' residence on the
Continent, for a plunge into savagedom, by a return to her home in
Connemara; and it was both comical and sad to hear her first launch out
upon the merits of the dear "wild Irish," and her desire to be among and
serviceable to "her people," and then, all in the same breath, declare
that the mere atmosphere of England and English society was enough to
kill any one with "the blue devils" who had ever been abroad; and this,
mind you, is the impression British existence makes upon her in the full
height of the gay London season. Fancy what she will find Connemara! She
knows you and your people, and gave me a most ardent invitation to the
savage Ireland where she lives. Poor woman! I pity her; her case is not
absolutely unknown to me, or quite without parallel in my own

Good-bye. God bless you.

                              Your affectionate
                                                                F. A. B.

                                                          HARLEY STREET.

This letter has been begun a week; it is now Saturday, May 28th, 1842.


Pray give my love to Mrs. Kemble, and tell her that the Queen Dowager
sent for me to go and pay her a visit yesterday. For goodness' sake,
Harriet, don't misunderstand me, I am only in joke! I live among such
very matter-of-fact persons that I really tremble for an hour after
every piece of nonsense I utter. You must observe by this that I am in a
painfully frequent state of trepidation; but what I meant by this
message to Mrs. Kemble is that I have been extremely amused at her
taking the trouble to write to Mrs. George Siddons to find out "all
about" my going to the Drawing-room, and the rumor which had reached her
of the Queen having desired to see me. George Siddons told me this
himself, and it struck me as such a funny interest in my concerns on the
part of Mrs. Kemble, who takes none whatever in _me_, that I thought I
would send her word of the piece of preferment which has occurred to me
since, viz. being sent for by the Queen Dowager, who desired my friend
Mademoiselle d'Este to bring me to call upon her. But what wonderful
gossip it does seem to be writing gravely round and round from
Leamington to London, and from London to Leamington, about!

You ask me how it fares with me. Why, busily and wearily enough. We have
had a perfect deluge of invitations lately, two or three thick of a

We are going to-night to the Duchess of Sutherland's fancy ball at
Stafford House, which is to be a less formal, but not less magnificent,
show than the Queen's masque.

I have not begun to rehearse "The Hunchback" yet, for _I_ shall not
require many rehearsals; but one of our party attended the first this
morning, and said all the young amateurs promised very fairly, and that
Henry Greville did his part extremely well, which I am very glad to
hear. I have had but one visit from him since his return to town, when,
of course, he discussed Adelaide's plans with great zeal. He certainly
wishes very much that she should sing at the Opera, but his view of the
whole matter is so different from mine ... that we are not likely to
agree very well, even upon so general a point of discussion as her best
professional interests.

I am much concerned at your observations about her exhaustion and
hoarseness. I am so anxious that her present life should not be
prolonged, so anxious that she should realize her very moderate wishes
and leave it, that I cannot bear to think of any possible failure of her
precious gift from over-exertion.... I think, begging your pardon, you
talk some nonsense when you compare your existence, as an object of
rational pity, with my sister's. All other considerations set apart,
there are certain conditions of life, which are the result of peculiar
states and stages of society, that are indisputably less favorable for
the production of happiness, and the exercise of goodness also, than
others. Among these results of over-civilization are the careers of
public exhibitors of every description. In judging of their conduct or
character, we may make every allowance for the peculiar dangers of their
position, and the temptations of their peculiar gifts; but I confess I
am amazed at any woman who, sheltered by the sacred privacy of a home,
can envy the one or desire the other.

Dearest Harriet, this letter has lain so long unfinished, and I am now
so engulfed in all sorts of worry, flurry, hurry, row, fuss, bustle,
bother, dissipation and distraction, that it is vain hoping to add
anything intelligible to it. Good-bye, dearest.

                              Ever yours,

                                          HARLEY STREET, May 29th, 1842.

This is Sunday, and, owing to my custom of neither paying visits nor
going to dinner or evening parties on "the first day of the week," I
look forward to a little leisure; though the repeated raps at the door
already this morning remind me that it will probably be interrupted
often enough to render it of little avail for any purpose of consecutive

You ask me if I think of "taking to translating." My dear Harriet, if
you mean when I return to America, I shall take to nothing there but the
stagnant life I led there before, which, in the total absence of any
impulse from the external circumstances in which I live and the utter
absence of any interest in any intellectual pursuit in those with whom I
live, becomes absolutely inevitable; and so I think that, once again in
my Transatlantic home, I shall neither originate nor translate anything.

I have "taken to translating" "Mademoiselle de Belle Isle" because my
bill at Mademoiselle Dévy's is £97, and I am determined _my brains_
shall pay it; therefore, also, I have given my father a ballet on the
subject of Pocahontas, and am preparing and altering "Mademoiselle de
Belle Isle" for Covent Garden, for both which pieces of work I hope to
get something towards my £97. Besides this, I have offered my "Review of
Victor Hugo" to John for the _British Quarterly Review_, of which he is,
you know, the editor--of course, telling him that it was written for an
American magazine--and he has promised me sixteen guineas for it if it
suits him. Besides this, I have offered Bentley the beginning of my
Southern journal, merely an account of our journey down to the
plantation.... Besides this, I have drawn up and sketched out, act by
act, scene by scene, and almost speech by speech, a play in five acts, a
sequel to the story of Kotzebue's "Stranger," which I hope to make a
good work of. Thus, you see, my brains are not altogether idle; and,
with all this, I am rehearsing "The Hunchback" with our amateurs, for
three and four hours at a time, attending to my own dresses and
Adelaide's (who will attend to nothing), returning, as usual, all the
visits, and going out to dinners and parties innumerable. This, you will
allow, is rather a double-quick-time sort of existence; but the
after-lull of the future will be more than sufficient for rest.

Alexandre Dumas is the author of "Mademoiselle de Belle Isle," and I was
led to select that piece to work upon, not so much from the interest of
the story, which is, however, considerable, as from the dramatic skill
with which it is managed, and the circumstances made to succeed each
other. There is, unfortunately, an insuperably objectionable incident in
it, which I have done my best to modify; but it is one of the most
ingeniously constructed pieces I have seen for a long time, and gives
admirable opportunities for good acting to almost every member of the
_dramatis personæ_.

Mademoiselle d'Este has no right to the painful feeling of illegitimacy,
for her mother was her father's wife, and therefore she has not, what
indeed I can conceive to be, a bitter source of wounded pride and
incessant rational mortification. The Duke of Sussex married Lady
Augusta Murray, and that, I should think, might satisfy his daughter, in
spite of all the Acts of Parliament afterwards devised to restrict and
regulate royal marriages. Mademoiselle d'Este's is merely a perpetual
protest against an irreversible social decree, and an incessant,
unavailing struggle for the observance and respect conventionally due to
a rank which is _not_ hers; and though it appears to me as senseless a
cause of trouble as ever human being chose to accept, yet as incessant
bitterness and mortification and annoyance are its results for her, poor
soul! of course to her it is real enough, if not in itself, in the
results she gathers from it.

My dinner has intervened, my dear, since this last sentence, and,
moreover, a permission from my sister to inform you that _she is engaged
to be married_!...

You ask how Adelaide looks after her Dublin campaign. She looks better
now, in spite of all her fatigue, than she has done since her return
from Italy; her face looks almost fat, to which appearance, however, it
is in some degree helped by her hair being already in rehearsal for "The
Hunchback," falling in ringlets on each side of her head, which becomes
her very much....

I have heard from Elizabeth Sedgwick, and she concurs in the propriety
of my _not_ giving Mrs. Child my Southern journal. I shall say no more
upon that subject....

Good-bye, dearest Harriet. I look forward with anticipated refreshment
to a ride which I have some chance of getting to-morrow, and for which I
am really gasping. I got one ride this week, and the escort that came to
the door for me touched and flattered me not a little: old Lord Grey and
Lady G----, and his two grandsons, and Lord Dacre, and B---- S----, all
came up from their part of the town _to fetch me a ride_, which was a
great kindness on their part, and an honor, pleasure, and profit to me.
God bless you, dear. I feel, as Margery says, "in a kind of bewilder,"
but ever yours,


    [My first meeting with Mademoiselle d'Este took place at Belvoir
    Castle, where we were both on a visit to the Duke of Rutland, and
    where my attention was drawn to the peculiarity of her conduct by my
    neighbor at the dinner-table, who said to me, just after we had
    taken our places, "Do you see Mademoiselle d'Este? She will do that
    now every day while she remains here." Mademoiselle d'Este at this
    moment entered the dining-room alone, and passed down the side of
    the table with an inclination to the duke, and a half-muttered
    apology about being late. This, it seems, was simply a pretence to
    cover her determination not to give precedence to any of the women
    in the house by being taken into dinner after them. The Duchesses of
    Bedford and Richmond, the Countess of Winchelsea, and other women of
    rank being then at the castle, Mademoiselle d'Este's pretensions
    stood not the slightest chance of acknowledgment, and she took this
    quite ineffectual way of protesting against her social position.

    Everybody at Belvoir was sufficiently familiar with her to accept
    these sort of proceedings on her part. To me they seemed more
    undignified and wanting in real pride and self-respect than a quiet
    acquiescence in the inevitable would have been. The conventional
    distinction she demanded had been legally refused her, and it was
    not in the power of the society to which she belonged to give it to
    her, however much they might have felt inclined to pity her position
    and excuse her resentment of it. But it was inconceivable to me that
    she should not either withdraw absolutely from all society (which is
    what I should have done in her place), or submit silently to an
    injury against which all protest was vain, which renewed itself, in
    some shape or other, daily, and which really involved no personal
    affront to her or injustice to the character of her mother. I
    thought she made a great mistake, which did not prevent my being
    attracted by her; and while we were at Belvoir, and immediately
    afterwards at Lord Willoughby's together, and subsequently on our
    return to London, we had a good deal of familiar and friendly
    intercourse with each other, in the course of which I had many
    opportunities of observing the perpetual struggle she maintained
    against what she considered the intolerable hardship of her

    She occupied a pretty little house in Mount Street, Grosvenor
    Square, and never allowed her servants to wear anything but the
    undress of the royal household; the scarlet livery being, of course,
    out of the question. On one or two occasions I dined with her
    _tête-à-tête_, and took no notice of the fact, which I remembered
    afterwards, that she invariably sent the servant out of the room,
    and helped herself and me with her own hands; but once, when the
    Duchess of B---- dined with us, and Mademoiselle d'Este had a
    dumb-waiter placed beside her, and, sending the man-servant out of
    the room, performed all the table service (except, indeed, bringing
    in the dishes), with our assistance only, the duchess assured me
    afterwards that this was simply because, in her own house,
    Mademoiselle d'Este would not submit to the unroyal indignity of
    being waited upon after her guests at her own table by her own

    When the preparations for the fancy ball at the Palace were turning
    half the great houses in London into milliners' shops, filled with
    stuffs, and patterns, and pictures, and materials for fancy dresses,
    and drawings of costumes, and gabbling, shrieking, distracted women,
    Mademoiselle d'Este consulted me about her dress, and we passed a
    whole morning looking over a huge collection of plates of historical
    personages and picturesque portraits of real or imaginary heroines.
    Among these I repeatedly put aside several that I thought would be
    especially becoming to her dark beauty and fine figure; and as often
    was surprised to find that among those I had thus selected she had
    invariably rejected a certain proportion, among which were two or
    three particularly beautiful and appropriate, one or other of which
    I should certainly have chosen for her above the rest. I couldn't
    imagine upon what theory of selection she was guiding her
    examination of the prints until, upon closer examination, I
    perceived that the only portraits from which she had determined to
    make her choice of a costume were those of princesses of blood
    royal. Poor woman!

    I once saw a curious encounter between her and the Marchioness of
    L----, in which the most insolent woman of the London society of
    that day was worsted with her own peculiar weapon, by the princess
    "claimant," and ignominiously beaten from the field.

    The occasion of my being presented to the Queen Dowager was this: I
    had been dining one day with Mademoiselle d'Este, when the
    Marchioness of Londonderry came in, and read me a note she had
    received from the Duke of Rutland, in which the latter said that the
    Queen had asked him why I had not been presented at Court. After
    Lady Londonderry was gone, I expressed some surprise at this
    unexpected honor, and some dismay at finding that it was considered
    a matter of course that, under these circumstances, I should go to
    the Drawing-room. I felt shy about the ceremony, and sordidly
    reluctant to spend the sum of money upon my dress which I knew it
    must cost me. All this I discussed with Mademoiselle d'Este, and
    expressing my surprise at the Queen's having condescended to ask why
    I didn't have myself presented, Mademoiselle d'Este exclaimed, "Oh,
    my dear, those people are so curious!" meaning the Queen and Prince
    Albert, towards whom she had a great feeling of sore dislike; but
    whether she meant by "curious" inquisitive or singular--_queer_--I
    didn't ask her, being rather astonished at this "singular" mode of
    speaking of our liege lady and her illustrious consort.

    Poor Mademoiselle d'Este's feeling of bitterness against the Queen
    arose, I have since been told, from various small slights which her
    sensitive pride conceived she had received from her. Mademoiselle
    d'Este's determination to assert her right to be considered a royal
    personage had, perhaps, met with some other rebuffs from the Queen,
    besides the one which she herself told me of with great irritation.

    On the occasion of Queen Adelaide's Drawing-rooms, she had always
    permitted Mademoiselle d'Este to make her entrance by the same
    approach, and at the same time, with other members of the royal
    family. After the accession of Queen Victoria, Mademoiselle d'Este
    claimed the same privilege, which, however, was not granted her. She
    told me this with many passionate, indignant comments, and
    apparently desirous that I should be impressed by the superior charm
    and graciousness of Queen Adelaide, whom she called "her Queen," and
    of whom she spoke with the most affectionate regard and respect, she
    said, "You must come with me and see _my_ Queen," and accordingly
    she solicited permission to present me to the Queen Dowager, which
    was granted, and I went with her one morning to pay my respects to
    that great and good lady, and was to have done so a second time, but
    was prevented by our departure from town.

    I drove with Mademoiselle d'Este to Marlborough House in the
    morning, and we were ushered through several apartments into a
    small-sized sitting-room, where we were left. After a few moments a
    lady entered, to whom Mademoiselle d'Este presented me. The Queen
    Dowager was then apparently between fifty and sixty years old; a
    thin, middle-sized woman, with gray hair and a long face, discolored
    by the traces of some eruption. She looked in ill health, and was
    certainly very plain, but her manner and the expression of her face
    were very gentle and gracious, and her voice, with its German
    accent, sweet and agreeable. She asked Mademoiselle d'Este if she
    was going to the Duchess of Sutherland's ball, and on her replying
    that she was not going, and giving some trifling reason for not
    doing so, I couldn't help laughing, because on our way to
    Marlborough House she had told me, with what appeared to me very
    superfluous wrath and indignation, that she had received an
    invitation to the duchess's ball, but that as it was coupled with an
    intimation that it was hoped the persons who had been at the Queen's
    great fancy ball, given a week before, would wear the same costumes
    at Stafford House, Mademoiselle d'Este chose to consider this an
    impertinent dictation, and said first "she would go in a plain white
    satin gown," then "in a white muslin petticoat," finally, that "she
    wouldn't go at all;" and working herself up by degrees into more
    fury as she talked, she abused the Duchess of Sutherland vehemently,
    mimicking her in a most ludicrous manner, and saying that she always
    reminded her of "a great fat, white, trussed turkey," which
    comparison and the ridiculous rage in which she made it made me
    laugh till I cried, in spite of my admiration for the Duchess of
    Sutherland, whose beauty and gracious sweetness of manner always
    seemed to me very charming. When therefore, Mademoiselle d'Este
    assigned another reason for not going to the Stafford House ball, in
    answer to the Queen's inquiry, I couldn't help laughing, and told
    the Queen the truth was that Mademoiselle d'Este's pride was hurt at
    being requested to come in the fancy dress she had worn at the
    Palace; and so, for this imaginary absurd offence, she was going to
    give up a very fine and pleasant _fête_. The Queen laughed, and,
    turning to Mademoiselle d'Este, said, "Your friend is right. You are
    very foolish; you will lose a pleasant evening for nothing."

    After this the conversation fell on the French plays and the
    performances of Mademoiselle Déjazet, who was then acting at the St.
    James's Theatre. The Queen having asked my opinion of these
    representations, I said I was unwilling to enter upon the subject,
    as I did not know how far the forms of etiquette would permit me to
    express what I thought in her Majesty's presence. Upon her pressing
    me, however, to state my opinion upon the subject, I reiterated what
    I had said in a previous conversation with Mademoiselle d'Este upon
    the matter, objecting to the extreme immorality of the pieces, and
    expressing my astonishment at seeing decent Englishwomen crowd to
    them night after night, since they certainly would not tolerate such
    representations on the English stage.

    Mademoiselle d'Este replied that that was because, on the English
    stage, they would be coarse and vulgar. I denied that the difference
    of language made any essential difference in the matter, though she
    was certainly right in saying that the less refined style of English
    acting might make the offensiveness of such pieces more unpleasantly
    obtrusive; but that in looking round the assembly of fine ladies at
    Déjazet's performances, I comforted myself by feeling very sure that
    half of them did not understand what they were listening to; but I
    think it must have been "nuts" to the clever, cynical, witty,
    impudent Frenchwoman to see these _dames trois fois respectables_
    swallow her performances _sans sourcilliez_.

    After some more conversation on general subjects, the Queen Dowager
    rose, saying she hoped Mademoiselle d'Este would bring me to visit
    her again; and so we received our _congé_.

    Mentioning the appearance of some eruption on the good Queen's face
    reminds me of a painful circumstance which took place one day when,
    meeting a beautiful child of about four years old, the daughter of
    one of the ladies of the Court, who was going into the Palace
    gardens under the escort of her nurse, the Queen stopped the child,
    and, attracted by her beauty, stooped to kiss her, when the little
    thing drew back with evident disgust, exclaiming, "No, no; you have
    a red face! Mamma says I must never kiss anybody with a red face."
    The poor Queen probably seldom received such a plain statement of
    facts in return for her condescension. Her unostentatious goodness
    and amiable character have now become matter of history. One of the
    most characteristic traits of her life was her ordering of her own
    funeral with a privacy and simplicity more touching than any royal
    pomp, specifying that her coffin should be carried to the grave by
    four sailors--a last tribute of affection to her husband's memory.

    Among the passages in Charles Greville's Memoirs that shocked me
    most, and that I read with the most pain, were the coarse and cruel
    terms in which he spoke of Queen Adelaide.

    Mademoiselle d'Este, when far advanced in middle life, married Lord
    Chancellor Truro. She may have found in so doing a certain
    satisfaction to her pride which no other alliance with a commoner
    could have afforded her, since the Lord Chancellor of England (no
    matter of how lowly an origin), on certain occasions, takes
    precedence of the whole aristocracy of the land.]

                                  HARLEY STREET, Monday, May 30th, 1842.

I have just finished a letter to you, in which I tell you that I have
sketched out the skeleton of another tragedy; but I find Emily has been
beforehand with me. You ask me what has moved me to this mental effort.
My milliner's bill, my dear; which, being £97 sterling, I feel extremely
inclined to pay out of my own brains; for, though they received a very
severe shock, and one of rather paralyzing effect, upon my being
reminded that whatever I write is not my own legal property, but that of
another, which, of course, upon consideration, I know; I cannot,
nevertheless, persuade myself that that which I invent--_create_, in
fact--can really belong to any one but myself; therefore, if anything I
wrote could earn me £97, I am afraid I should consider that I, and no
one else, had paid my bill.

In thinking over the position of women with regard to their right to
their own earnings, I confess to something very like wrathful
indignation; impotent wrath and vain indignation, to be sure--not the
less intense for that, however, for the injustice is undoubtedly great.
That a man whose wits could not keep him half a week from starving
should claim as his the result of a mental process such as that of
composing a noble work of imagination--say "Corinne," for example--seems
too beneficent a provision of the law for the protection of male
_superiority_. It is true that, by our marriage bargain, they feed,
clothe, and house us, and are answerable for our debts (not my
milliner's bill, though, if I can prevent it), and so, I suppose, have a
right to pay themselves as best they can out of all we are or all we can
do. It is a pretty severe puzzle, and a deal of love must be thrown into
one or other or both scales to make the balance hang tolerably even.

Madame de Staël, I suppose, might have said to Rocca, "If my brains are
indeed yours, why don't you write a book like 'Corinne' with them?" You
know, though he was perfectly amiable, and she married him for love, he
was an intellectual zero; but perhaps the man who, acknowledging her
brilliant intellectual superiority, could say, "Je l'aimerai tant,
qu'elle finira par m'aimer," deserved to be master even of his wife's
brains.... I wish women could be dealt with, not mercifully, nor
compassionately, nor affectionately, but _justly_; it would be so much
better--for men.

How can you ask me if I despise, as great gossip, Emily's telling you
that I am writing another tragedy! Why, my dear, I shouldn't consider it
despicable gossip if Emily were to tell you what colored gloves I had on
the last time she saw me. Do we not all three love each other dearly?
and is not everything, no matter how trifling, of interest in that case?
But Mrs. John Kemble does not pretend to love me dearly, I flatter
myself, and therefore her writing to inquire into my proceedings, and
for minute details of my presentation at Court, did seem to me
contemptible gossip. At her age, perhaps, it is pardonable enough,
though it appears to me rather inconsistent, when one has no liking for
a person, to trouble one's head about where they go or what they do.

You ask me about the subject of my play. It is one that my father
suggested to me years ago, and which grew out of a question as to
whether the Stranger (in Kotzebue's play so called) does or does not
forgive his unfaithful wife in the closing scene. With several other
dramatic schemes, it has hovered dimly before my imagination for some
time past. The other night, however, as I was brushing my hair before
going to bed, my brain, I suppose, receiving some stimulus from the
scrubbing of my skull, the whole idea suddenly came towards me with
increasing distinctness, till it gradually stood up as it were from head
to foot before me--a very mournful figure, whose form and features were
all vividly defined. I instantly caught up S----'s copy-books--there
was no other paper at hand--and on the covers of two of them wrote out
my play, act by act and scene by scene.... The short-lived triumph of
this spirit of inspiration died away under the effect of a conversation
by which it was interrupted, and I collapsed like a fallen _omelette
soufflée_ (not to say _souffletée_).

The story of my piece is a sequel to "The Stranger," the retribution
which reaches the faithless wife and mother in her children, after they
grow up; which, together with the perpetual struggle on the part of her
husband (who has taken her home again) not to wound her conscience,
which is so sick and sore that every word, breath, and look _does_ wound
it, might form, I think, an interesting dramatic picture, with
considerable elements for poetry to work upon.

I went to the Duchess of Sutherland's fancy ball in my favorite costume,
a Spanish dress, which suited my finances as well as my fancy, my
person, and my purse; for I had nothing to get but a short black satin
skirt, having beautiful flounces of black lace, high comb, mantilla,
and, in short, all things needful already in my own possession.

I have told you of Adelaide's new prospects, in which I rejoice as much
as I can rejoice in anything. She is herself very happy, poor child! and
'tis a pleasure and a positive relief to see her face, with its bright
expression of newly dawned hope upon it.

Good-night, dear. My head aches, and I feel weary and worn out; our life
just now is one of insane, incessant dissipation. Thank God, I have a
bed, and have not lost the secret of sleeping.

                              Ever yours,

    [A long discussion with my wise and excellent friend and connection,
    Mr. Horace Wilson, induced me to think a good deal upon the
    possibility of a man, in the position of Kotzebue's "Stranger,"
    receiving back his wife to the home she had deserted. Mr. Wilson
    condemned the idea as absolutely inadmissible and fatally immoral.
    In our Saviour's teaching it is said that a man shall put away his
    wife for only _one_ cause; but is it said that he shall in every
    case put her away for _that_ cause? and is the offence a wife
    commits against her husband the one exception to the universal law
    of the forgiveness which Christ taught? Men have so considered it;
    and in the general interest of the preservation of society, a wife's
    fidelity to her duties becomes one of the most important elements of
    security; the protection of the family, the integrity of
    inheritance, the rightful descent of property, are all involved in
    it. But these are questions of social expediency, and, though based
    on deep moral foundations, are not of such overwhelming moral force
    as to forbid the contemplation of any possible exception to their
    authority. I have heard--I know not if it is true--that in some
    parts of Germany, formerly, where the practice of divorce obtained
    to a degree tolerated nowhere else in Christendom, it occasionally
    happened that, after a legal separation and intermediate marriages
    (sanctioned also by the law), the original pair, set free once more
    by death or _second divorce_, resumed their first ties--a condition
    of things which appears monstrous, considered as that which we call
    marriage, with the English and American branch of the Anglo-Saxon
    family, the holiest of human ties; with Roman Catholic Christians,
    an indissoluble bond, sacred as a sacrament of their Church.

    Without being able to determine the question satisfactorily in my
    own mind with reference to the supposed conclusion of the play of
    "The Stranger," in which Mr. Wilson said that the husband, receiving
    his repentant wife in his arms, was highly offensive to all
    morality, which demanded imperatively her absolute rejection and
    punishment, I began to consider what sort of escape from punishment
    it might be which would probably follow the forgiveness of her
    husband, her readmission to her home, and the renewal of her
    intercourse with her children. In Kotzebue's play the persons are
    all German, and their nationality has to be borne in mind in
    contemplating Waldburg's possible forgiveness of his wife.
    Steinforth, his dearest friend, and a man of the highest honor and
    morality (as conceived by the author), urges upon Waldburg the
    pardon of Adelaide; urges it almost as a duty, and zealously assists
    Madame von Wintersen's plan of bringing the unhappy people together,
    and effecting a reconciliation between them by means of the
    unexpected sight of their children. Moreover, when Waldburg rejects
    his friend's advice and entreaties that he will forgive his wife,
    it is hardly upon the ground of any deep moral turpitude involved in
    such a forgiveness, but upon the score of the insupportable
    humiliation of reappearing in the great world of German society to
    which they both belong with "his runaway wife on his arm," and the
    "whispering, pointing, jeering" of which their reconciliation would
    be the object, winding up with the irrevocable "Never! never!

    Nevertheless, in Kotzebue's play he does receive his wife in his
    arms as the curtain falls, and the German public go home comforted
    in believing her forgiven. I do not know how the dumb-show at the
    end of the English play is generally conducted; but in my father's
    instance, I know he so far carried out my friend Horace Wilson's
    sentiment (which was also his own on the subject) that, while his
    miserable wife falls senseless at his feet, he turns again in the
    act of flying from her as the curtain drops, leaving the English
    public to go home comforted in the belief that he had _not_ forgiven

    The result of these discussions, as I said, led me to imagine how
    far such a woman would escape her righteous punishment, even if
    restored to her home; and in the sequel to "The Stranger," which I
    endeavored to construct, I worked out my own ideas upon the subject.

    Forgiveness of sin is not remission of punishment; and the highest
    justice might rest satisfied with the conviction that God, who
    forgives every sinner, punishes every sin; nor can even His mercy
    remit the righteous consequence ordained by it. God's punishments
    are _consequences_, the results of His all-righteous laws, _never to
    be escaped from_, but leaving forever possible the blessed hope of
    His forgiveness; but no one ever yet outran his sin or escaped from
    its inevitable result.

    The grosser human justice, however, which is obliged to execute
    itself on the bodies of criminals demands the open degradation and
    social ostracism of unfaithful wives as a necessary portion of its
    machinery, and the well-being of the society which it maintains.]

                                 HARLEY STREET, Friday, June 10th, 1842.

I finished one letter to you last night, and, finding that I cannot
obtain tackle to go on the river this morning and fish, I sit down to
write you another. And first, dear, about getting an admission for
E---- to see our play. I am sorry to say it is not in my power. Thinking
I had rather a right to one or two invitations for my own friends on
each of the nights, I asked Lady Francis to give me three tickets for
the first representation, intending to beg the same number for each
night. I gave one to Mr. S----, and another to a nephew of Talma's, a
very agreeable French naval officer, with whom we have become
acquainted, and who besought one of me. But when I had proceeded thus
far in my distribution of admissions, I was told I had committed an
indiscretion in asking for any, and that I must return the remaining
one, which I did, ... and when your request came about a ticket for
E----, I was simply assured that it was "impossible." So, dear, you must
be, as I must be, satisfied with this decision--which I am not, for I am
very sorry, ... Lady Francis would gladly, I have no doubt, have asked
any of my friends had we wished her to do so; she did send an invitation
to Horace Wilson and his wife, but that was because he was to have acted
for her, and was only prevented by being too unwell to undertake the

I am very glad that Captain Seymour likes me, as the liking is very
reciprocal. Indeed, I think our whole company presents a very favorable
specimen of our young English gentlemen: they are all of them very
young, full of good spirits, amiable, obliging, good-humored,
good-tempered, and well-mannered; in short, I think, very charming.

How shall I feel, you say, acting that part again?... My dearest
Harriet, thus much at Richmond on Monday morning; it is now Thursday
evening, and I have been crying and in a miserable state of mind and
body all day long. On Monday we acted "The Hunchback" for the third
time, and on Tuesday we all went down to Cranford, and drew long breaths
as we got into the delicious air, all fragrant with hay and honeysuckle
and syringa. I left my children at what was in posting days a famous
country inn, at about half a mile from Lady Berkeley's house, but which,
since the completion of the railroad, has become much less frequented
and important, but is quiet and comfortable and pleasant enough to make
it a very nice place of deposit for my chicks.

On Wednesday afternoon, when I went over to see them, I found F----,
pale and coughing, and heard with dismay that the measles were
pervading the whole neighborhood. I went to town that evening to act
"The Hunchback" for the last time, and was haunted by horrid visions of
my child ill and suffering, and the very first thing I met on entering
London was a child's coffin and funeral. You can better judge than I can
express how this sort of omen affected my imagination; and in this frame
of mind I went through our last representation of "The Hunchback," and
did not reach home till the white face of the morning was beginning to
look down from the ends of the streets at us.

We did not get to bed till past three, and were up again at a little
after seven, in order to take the railroad to Cranford, where we had
promised to breakfast. One of our party was too late for the train, and
we posted down with four horses in order to save our time, which on the
great Ascot day was not, as you may suppose, a very economical

Good-bye, dear. I will answer all your questions about "The Hunchback"
another time.

                              Ever yours,

                                         HARLEY STREET, June 12th, 1842.

... I am now going to answer your various questions to the best of my
ability. You wanted to know how I felt at acting "The Hunchback" again.
Why, so horribly nervous the first night that the chair shook under me
while my hair was being dressed. I trembled to such a degree from head
to foot, and the rustling of the curl-papers as the man twisted them in
my hair almost drove me distracted, for it sounded like a forest
cracking and rattling in a storm. After the performance, my limbs ached
as if I had been beaten across them with an iron bar, and I could
scarcely stand or support myself for exhaustion and fatigue. This,
however, was only the first night, and I suppose proceeded from the
painful uncertainty I felt as to whether I had not utterly forgotten how
to act at all. This one representation over, I had neither fright,
nervousness, nor the slightest fatigue, and it is singular enough that
no recollections or associations whatever of past times were awakened by
the performance. I was fully engrossed by the endeavor to do the part
as well as I could, and, except in the particular of copying, as well as
I could recollect it, my dress of former days, the Julia of nine years
ago did not once present herself to my thoughts. The first time I played
it, I rather think I was worse than formerly, but after that probably
much the same....

How does this dreadfully hot weather agree with you, my dear? For my own
part, I am parboiled and stupid beyond all expression. I hate heat
always and everywhere, and it seems to me that in our damp climate it is
even more oppressive than under the scorching skies of August in
Pennsylvania. However, of that I won't be sure, for the present is, with
me, always better or worse than the absent.

I think I have nothing more to tell you about "The Hunchback." ...
Beyond doing it as well as I could, I cared very little about it; it
seemed a sort of routine business, just as it used to be, except for the
inevitable unwholesome results of its being amusement instead of
business; the late hours--three o'clock in the morning--and champagne
and lobster salad suppers, instead of my former professional decent tea
and to bed, after my work, before twelve o'clock.

Adelaide acted Helen charmingly, without having bestowed the slightest
pains upon it. Had she condescended to give it five minutes' careful
study, it would have been a perfect performance of its kind; but as it
was, it was delightfully droll, lively, and graceful, and certainly
proved her natural powers of comic acting to be very great....

You ask me about my play. I have not touched it since I wrote to you
last, and really do not know when I shall have a minute in which to do
so, unless, indeed, in this coming week at Oatlands,--and a great deal
may be done in a week; but I am altogether quite down about it. Our last
representation of "The Hunchback" was, as in duty bound, the best, and
everybody was, or pretended to be, in ecstasies with it. Our time and
attention have been so engrossed with the dresses, rehearsals, and
performances that we absolutely seemed to experience a sudden _lull_ in
our daily lives after it was all over.

I shall probably not be in town till the 24th. I am going down to Mrs.
Grote's with my sister on the 21st, and as S---- is of the party, it
will not, I suppose, be according to "received ideas" that I should
leave her there. On the 24th, however, she must be back in town; and as
for my departure for America, dear Hal, you do well not to grieve too
much beforehand about that.... Therefore, my dear Hal, lament not over
my departure, for Heaven only knows when we shall depart, or if indeed
we shall depart at all.


                              Ever yours,

                                              OATLANDS, June 14th, 1842.

... I return to town this evening in order to go to a party at Mrs.
Grote's, to which we have been engaged for some time past, and remain in
town all to-morrow, because we dine at Harness's.... The quiet of this
place, and very near twelve hours' sleep, and, above all, a temporary
relief from all causes of nervous distress, have done me all the good in
the world.... I cannot but think mine, in one respect, a curious fate;
and perhaps, with the magnifying propensity of egotism, I exaggerate
what seems to me its peculiarity. But to be placed for years together
out of the reach of all society; to be left day after day to the
solitude of an absolutely lonely life; to be deprived of all stimulus
from without; to hear no music; to see no works of art; to hear no
intellectually brilliant or even tolerably cultivated or interesting
conversation; indeed, often to pass days without exchanging a thought or
even a word with any grown person but my servants; to ride for hours
every day alone through lonely roads and paths, sit down daily to a
solitary dinner, and pass most of my evenings listening to the ticking
of the clock, or wandering round and round the dark garden-walks;--to
lead, I say, such a life for a length of time, and then be plunged into
the existence, the sort of social Maelstrom we are living in here now,
is surely a great trial to a person constituted like myself, and would
be something of one, I think, to a calmer mind and more equable
temperament than mine....

You ask if my father has been told of our intended return to America. I
have told him, but neither he nor any one else appears to believe in it;
and from what I wrote you in my last letter, I think you will agree that
they are justified in their incredulity.

You ask how Adelaide is. Flourishing greatly; the annoyance and
vexation of the late difficulties with the theatre being past, she has
recovered her spirits, and seems enjoying to the full her present hopes
of future happiness....

God bless you, my dear Hal.

                              Ever yours,

                                              OATLANDS, June 16th, 1842.
  MY DEAR T----,

An hour's railroading from London has brought me into a lovely country,
a perfect English landscape of broad lawns, thick tufted oaks, and
placid waters, under my windows. But an hour from that glare, confusion,
din, riot, and insanity, to the soothing sights and sounds of this rural
paradise! And after looking at it till my spirits have subsided into
something like kindred composure and placidity, I open my letter-case,
and find your last unanswered epistle lying on the top of it. "If Cunard
and Harnden have proved true," you must have received by this time our
reply to your proposition touching the Coster business. Thus far on
Monday last; and having proceeded thus far, I fell fast asleep, with the
pen in my hand, the sound of the rustling trees in my ears, and the
smell of the new-mown grass in my nose. Since that noonday nap of mine,
I have been back to town for a party at Mrs. Grote's and a dinner at
Harness's. I mention names because these worthies are known to Catherine
and Kate; and here I am, thanks to the railroad, back again among all
these lovely sights and sounds and smells, and pick up my pen forthwith
to renew my conversation with you. And first, as in duty bound,
business. I wrote you word that we did not disdain the compromise
offered by Mr. Coster, and we now further beg that you will receive and
keep for us the sum proposed by that gentleman as payment of his debt.

Thank you very much for your kindness to H-----. Kate wrote me a most
ludicrous account of the poor singer's first experiment on his voice in
your presence. I have not the least idea what his merits really are,
having never heard or, to the best of my knowledge, seen him; but, as a
pupil of the Royal Academy, his acquirements ought certainly to be those
of a competent teacher. However, I need not, I am sure, tell you that,
in recommending him to you, I did not contemplate laying the slightest
stress upon your conscience, and having heard him you must recommend him
or not according to that....

My sister thanks you for your zeal on her behalf, and so do I; but you
will not be called upon for any further, or rather, I should say, nearer
demonstration of it; for the young lady has lately come to the
conclusion that marrying and staying at home is better than wandering
singing over the face of the earth; and I suppose by next Christmas she
will be married. I have no room for more.

                              Ever yours,
                                                                F. A. B.

    [My correspondence with my friend Miss S---- was interrupted by a
    visit of several weeks which she paid us, and not resumed on my part
    until the month of August, when I was on my way back from Scotland,
    and she was travelling on the Continent with her friend Miss W----.]

                                LIVERPOOL, Wednesday, August 10th, 1842.

You bid me write to you immediately upon receiving your letter of the
24th of July, dated from Ulm, but I only received that letter last night
on my arrival here from Scotland, and I know not how long its rightful
delivery to me has been delayed. I fear, in consequence of this
circumstance, this answer to it may miscarry; for perhaps you will have
left Munich by the time it gets there. However, I can but do as you bid
me, and so I do it, and hope this, for me, rare exercise of the virtue
of obedience may find its reward in my letter reaching you.

I am glad your meeting with the Combes was so pleasant. I can bear
witness to the truth of their melancholy account of dear Dr. Combe, whom
I went to see while I was in Edinburgh. He is so emaciated that the
point of his knee-bone, through his trousers, perfectly fascinated me; I
couldn't keep my eyes off it, it looked so terribly and sharply
articulated that it seemed as if it were coming through the cloth. His
countenance, however, was the same as ever, or, if possible, even
brighter, sweeter, and more kindly benevolent. I have always had the
most affectionate regard and admiration for him, and think him in some
respects superior to his brother.

I am delighted to think of your fine weather, and the great enjoyment
it must be to you two, so happy in each other, to travel through the
lovely summer days together, filling your minds and storing your
memories with beautiful things of art and nature, which will be an
intellectual treasure in common, and a fountain of delightful
retrospective sympathy....

You must continue to direct to Harley Street, for although we were, by
our original agreement, to have left it on the 1st of August, I
conclude, as it is now the 10th, and I have heard no word of our
removing, that some arrangement has been made for our remaining there,
at least till our departure, which I understand is fixed for October

I have received a letter from Elizabeth Sedgwick, informing me that
Kate's marriage is to take place about October 10th. I shall not be at
it, which I regret very much.

In the same letter she tells me that Dr. Channing is spending the summer
at Lenox; and that he had shown her a most interesting letter he had
received from a house-builder in Cornwall, England. This man wrote to
Channing to thank him for the benefit he had derived from his writings,
particularly his lectures on the mental elevation of the working
classes. Dr. Channing answered this letter, and the poor man was so
overjoyed at this favor, as he esteemed it, that he could not refrain
from pouring out his thankfulness in another letter, in which he assured
his reverend correspondent that the influence of his writings upon his
class of the community in that part of England was and had been very
great, and instanced a fellow-artisan of his own, who said that
Channing's writings had reconciled him to being a working man. Elizabeth
said that Dr. Channing, while reading this letter, was divided between
smiles and tears. She also told me that he had talked to her a good deal
about Mrs. Child (you know, the abolitionist who wanted to publish my
Southern journal; she is a correspondent of his, and a person for whom
he has the highest esteem, regarding her as "a most highly principled
and noble-minded woman.")

I am so tired, dearest Hal, and feel such a general lassitude and
discouragement of mind and body, that I will end my letter. Give my most
affectionate love to Dorothy, whom I should love dearly if I saw her
much. I wish I was with you, seeing the Danube, that river into which
poor Undine carried her immortal soul, and her broken woman's heart,
when she faded over the boat's side, saying, "Be true, be true, oh,
misery!" God bless you, dearest Hal.

                              Ever yours,

                                    HARLEY STREET, September 16th, 1842.

You ask me what I am doing. Flying about in every direction, like one
distracted, trying to _amuse_ myself; going to evenings at Lady
Lansdowne's, and to mornings at the Duchess of Buccleuch's; dining at
the Star and Garter at Richmond, in gay and great company, and driving
home alone between one and two o'clock in the morning....

I have undertaken to keep and to ride S----'s horse while he is away;
and I think, by means of regular exercise, I shall at any rate keep
_paroxysms_ aloof. I am going to a ball at Lord Foley's on Monday; to a
children's play at the Francis Egertons' on Tuesday; to Richmond again
to dine with the Miss Berrys and Lady Charlotte Lindsay on Wednesday; on
Thursday to dine at Horace Wilson's, etc.... Perhaps you will wonder, as
I do sometimes, that I keep the few senses I have in the life I lead;
but so it is, and so it has to be.

Good-bye. God bless you. I keep this letter till I hear from you where
to send it, and, with dearest love to Dorothy, am

                              Ever yours,

                                    HARLEY STREET, September 30th, 1842.

Yesterday morning we drove down to Chesterfield Street, not without
sundry misgivings on my part that Lord Dacre would feel that we
persecute him, that he might be busy and not like being interrupted,
etc. When the door was opened, however, and while we were still
interrogating the footman, his own dear lordship came to it, and
graciously bade me alight, which of course I gladly did, and so we sat
with him a matter of half an hour, hearing his discourse, which ran at
first on you and the dear girls [his granddaughters], and then
broadened gradually from private interests to his public experience,
and all the varied observation of his honorable political career. "I
could have stayed all night to have heard good counsel," but was obliged
to drive to the theatre to fetch my sister from rehearsal, and so, most
reluctantly, came away. It seemed to me very good, and amiable, and
humane, and condescending of Lord Dacre to spare so much of his time and
attention to us young and insignificant folk; the courtesy of his
reception was as deeply appreciated by me, I assure you, as the interest
of his conversation; and so tell my lord, with my best of courtesies.

I went in the evening to hear my sister sing "Norma" for the last time,
and cried most bitterly, and, moreover, thought exceedingly often of
your ladyship; and why? I'll tell you; it was the _last_ time she was to
do it, and when I saw that grace and beauty and rare union of gifts,
which were adapted to no other purpose half so well as to this of
dramatic representation; when I heard the voice of popular applause,
that utterance of human sympathy, break at once simultaneously from all
those human beings whose emotions she was swaying at her absolute
will,--my heart sank to think that this beautiful piece of art (for such
it now is, and very near perfection), would be seen no more; that this
rare power (a _talent_, as it verily then seemed to me, in the solemn
sense of the word, and a precious one of its own kind) was about to be
folded in a napkin, to bear interest no more, of profit or pleasure, to
herself or others.

My dear Granny, you will well understand how I came to think of you
during that performance; for the first time, I thought _like_ you on
this subject. I caught myself saying, while the tears streamed down my
face, "If she is only happy, after all!" (But oh, that _if_!) It seemed
amazing to abdicate a secure fortune, and such a power--power to do
anything so excellently (putting its recognition by the public entirely
out of account) for that fearful risk. God help us all! 'Tis a hard
matter to judge rightly on any point whatever; and settled and firm as I
had believed my opinion on this subject to be, I was surprised to find
how terrible it was to me to see my sister, that woman most dear to me,
deliberately leave a path where the sure harvest of her labor is
independent fortune, and a not unhonorable distinction, and a powerful
hold upon the sympathy, admiration, and even kindly regard of her
fellow-creatures, while she thus not unworthily ministers to their
delight, for a life where, if she does not find happiness, what will
atone to her for all this that she will have left? However, I have need
to remember, while thinking of her and her future, what I have never
forgotten hitherto, that the soul lives neither on fortune, fame, nor
happiness; and that which is noblest in her, which is above either her
genius, grace, or beauty, and far more precious than all of them united,
will thrive, it may be, better in obscurity and the different trials of
her different life than in the vocation she is now abandoning. _Amen!_

Thank you, my dear Granny, for all your advice, and still more for the
love which dictates it; I lay both to heart. Thank you, too, for the
little book. I wish I knew the woman who wrote it; she must be a

God bless you, dear Granny. I write you a kiss as the children do, and

                              Ever your affectionate

                                       HARLEY STREET, October 2nd, 1842.
  MY DEAR T----,

It is hardly of any use writing to you, because, unless I am "drowned in
the ditch," I shall see you very soon after you get this letter. I have,
however, as I believe you know, a very decided principle upon the
subject of answering letters, and therefore shall duly reply to your
epistle, though I hope to follow this in less than a fortnight.

I am sorry to say that if your ever "feeling young again" is to depend
upon your seeing a _Miss Kemble_ once more in America, you are doomed to
disappointment, and must decidedly go on, not only growing but feeling
old, as _Miss Kembles_ there are now no more--at least at my father's
house.... So you see a due regard for her fellow-creatures on the other
side of the Atlantic has not existed in my sister's heart, or she would,
of course, have postponed all personal prospects of happiness, or rather
peace and quiet, to a proper consideration for the gratification of the
American public.

I think your observations upon my projected journey to Georgia are taken
from an entirely mistaken point of view. I am utterly unconscious of
entertaining any inimical feeling towards America or the Americans; on
the contrary, I am distinctly conscious of the highest admiration for
your institutions, and an affectionate regard for the northern part of
your country (where those institutions can alone be said to be put in
practice) that is second only to the love and reverence I bear to my own
country. This being the case, I cannot think that anything I write about
America can, with any sort of propriety, be characterized as "the
lashings of a foe."

With regard to Dickens, I do not know exactly what proceedings of his
you refer to as exhibiting want of taste or want of temper towards your
country-people.... But small counterweights may surely be allowed to
such admirable qualities of both head and heart as he possesses. He sent
me, on his return to England, a printed circular, which was distributed
among all his literary acquaintances and friends, and which set forth
his views with regard to the question of international copyright; but
except this, I know of nothing that he has publicly put forth upon the
matter. His "Notes" upon America come out, I believe, immediately; and I
shall be extremely curious to see them, and sorry if they are
unfavorable, because his popularity as a writer is immense, and whatever
he publishes will be sure of a wide circulation. Moreover, as it is very
well known that, before going to America, he was strongly prepossessed
in favor of its institutions, manners, and people, any disparaging
remarks he may make upon them will naturally have proportionate weight,
as the deliberate result of experience and observation. M---- told me,
after dining with Dickens immediately on his return, that one thing that
had disgusted him was the almost universal want of conscience upon money
matters in America; and the levity, occasionally approaching to
something like self-satisfaction, for their "sharpness," which he had
repeated occasions of observing, in your people when speaking of the
present disgraceful condition of their finances and deservedly degraded
state of their national credit.... But I do hope (because I have a
friend's and not a "foe's" heart towards your country) that Dickens will
not write unfavorably about it, for his opinion will influence public
opinion in England, and deserves to do so.

As for Lord Morpeth, you need not be afraid of his "booking" you; he is
the kindliest gentleman alive, and moreover, I think, far too prudent a
person for such a proceeding....

Lord Ashburton's termination of the boundary question is vehemently
abused by the Opposition, but that is of course. Some old-school Whigs,
sound politicians, and great friends of mine, were agreeing quietly
among themselves the other day that _anyhow_ they were heartily glad
that there was to be no war between the countries.

I perceive, however, that the question of the right of search (_question
brûlante_, as the French say) is still untouched, or rather unsettled;
yet in my opinion it contains more elements of danger than the other.
But I suppose your great diplomatists think one question settled in
twenty years is quite enough for the rapid pace at which our Governments
pant and puff after public opinion in these steam-speed-thinking times.

We have been in the country till within the last fortnight, but have
come up to town to prepare for our departure. London is almost empty,
but the only topics that keep alive the sparse population of the
club-houses are the dismissal of Baroness L---- from Court and her
departure for Germany, and a terrible _esclandre_ in a very high circle,
including royal personages.... I treat you to the London scandal, and my
doing so is ridiculous enough; but there is nothing I would not sooner
write about than myself and my own thoughts, feelings, and concerns,
just now. How thankful I shall be when this month is over!...

                              Believe me yours most truly,
                                                                F. A. B.

                                     HARLEY STREET, Saturday, 8th, 1842.

I dined yesterday at Charles Greville's, where dined also Mr. Byng; both
of them, I believe, were your fellow-guests lately, at the Duke of
Bedford's. Among other Woburn talk, there is no little discourse about
B----. Westmacott, too (the sculptor), who is a very old friend of ours,
chimed in, and we had a very pretty chorus on the argument of her fine
countenance, striking appearance, intelligence, etc., which I listened
to and joined in with great pleasure, because I love the child;
thinking, at the same time, how many qualities, of which perhaps her
gentlemen eulogists took no cognizance, went to make up the charm of
the outward appearance which they admired--the candor, truth, humility,
and moral dignity, the "inward and spiritual grace," of which what they
praised is but "the outward and visible sign." As I know this, the
commendation of her superficial good gifts, by superficial observers,
was very agreeable to me.

You ask me if I think you are going to keep up a correspondence with me
at this rate. I do not know exactly what that means; but be sure of one
thing, that as long as I can succeed in drawing an answer out of you, I
shall _persewere_.

My father has a violent lumbago; so, I am sorry to say, has the theatre,
which, in spite of my sister's exertions, can hardly keep upon its legs.
Her success has to compensate for the deplorable houses on the nights
when she does not appear. But great as her success is, it will not make
the nights pay on which she does not sing, when the theatre is
absolutely empty. What they will do when she goes I cannot in the
smallest degree conceive. _We_ are just being sucked into the Maelstrom
of bills, parcels, packages, books, pictures, valuables, trumpery,
rummaging, heaping together, throwing apart, selecting, discarding, and
stowing away that precedes an orderly departure after a two years'
disorderly residence; in the midst of all which I have neither leisure
nor leave to attend to the heartache which, nevertheless, accompanies
the whole process with but little intermission.

Love to your dear lord and the dear girls, and believe me ever, my dear

                              Your affectionate

                                      HARLEY STREET, Friday, 14th, 1842.

I find there is every probability of our not leaving England until the
4th of November (several people tell me they have been told so), and
such is the extreme uncertainty of our movements always that it would
not surprise me very violently if we did not go then. I fear, however,
this will not afford me any further glimpses of you; and, indeed, at the
bottom of my heart, I do not wish for any more "last dying speeches and
confessions." To part is very bad, but to keep continually parting is

My sister goes on with the "Semiramide," and her attraction in it
increases. She acts and sings admirably in it, and, all sisterly
prepossessions apart, looks beautiful.

We went the other night to see "As You Like It" at Drury Lane. It was
_painfully_ acted, but the scenery, etc., were charming; and though we
had neither the caustic humor nor poetical melancholy of Jacques, nor
the brilliant wit and despotical fancifulness of the princess
shepherd-boy duly given, we _had_ the warbling of birds, and sheep-bells
tinkling in the distance, to comfort us. I hope it is not profanation to
say, "These should ye have done, and not have left the others undone."
Nevertheless, and in spite of all, the enchantment of Shakespeare's
inventions is such to me that they cannot be marred, let what will be
done to them. As long as those words of profoundest wisdom and those
images of exquisite beauty are but uttered, their own perfection
swallows up all other considerations and impressions with me, and I bear
indifferent and even bad acting of Shakespeare better than most people.

Why did you not make _him_, instead of the stage, the subject of our
discussions together? For his works my enthusiasm grows every year of my
life into a profounder and more wondering love and admiration.

I am grateful for Lord Dacre's offer, though it was not made to me; and,
had it been so, should have closed with it eagerly. To correspond with
one who has seen and known and _thought_ so much is a rare privilege.

Good-bye, dear Granny. Give my love to the girls, and my "duty" to my
lord, and believe me

                              Your affectionate
                                                           FANNY BUTLER.

                                      HARLEY STREET, Friday, 23rd, 1842.

That last half-hour before we got off from "The Hoo" the other day was a
severe trial to my self-command; but I was anxious not to afflict you,
and I was willing, if possible, to begin the bitter series of partings,
of which the next month will be one succession, with something like
fortitude, however I may end it. Thank you for writing to me, and thank
you for all your kindness to me through these many years, now that you
have _persevered_ in being fond of me....

Do not be anxious about my happiness, my dear friend, but pray for me,
that I maybe enabled to do what is right under all circumstances; and
then it cannot fail to be well with me, whether to outward observation I
am what the world calls happy or not.

Give my affectionate love to Lord Dacre, and thank him for all his
goodness to me and mine. I send my blessing to the girls. I have written
to B----. God bless you all, my kind friends, and make life and its
vicissitudes minister to your happiness hereafter.

You will hear of me, dear Granny, for the girls will write to me, and I
shall answer them, and you will remember, whenever you think of me, how
gratefully and affectionately I must

                              Ever remain yours,
                                                           FANNY BUTLER.

    [Lady Dacre saw much trouble in store for me in my intemperate
    expression of feeling on the subject of slavery in America, and
    repeatedly warned me with affectionate solicitude to moderate, if
    not my opinions, the vehement proclamation of them. She was wise and
    right, as well as kind in her advice.]

                    [Extract from a letter of Miss Sedgwick's.]

                                        STOCKBRIDGE, October 26th, 1842.

You have no doubt heard and lamented the death of our dear friend, Dr.
Channing. Dead he is not; he lives, and will live in the widespreading
life he has communicated. He passed the summer at Lenox, occupying with
his family your rooms at the hotel. We passed some hours of every day
together. He enjoyed our lovely hill country with the freshness of
youth, his health was invigorated, and his mind freer, and his spirits
more buoyant than I ever knew them; he endured more fatigue than he had
been able to encounter since he travelled in Switzerland fifteen years
ago. His affectionateness, purity, simplicity--a simplicity so perfect
that it seemed divine--surrounded his greatness with an atmosphere of
light and beauty. His life has been a most prosperous one, no storms
without, and a heavenly calm within. His last work in his office was a
discourse which he delivered in our village church on the 1st of August,
on the emancipation of the slaves in the British West Indies. I shall
send it to you, and pray mark the prophetic invocation with which it
concludes. You should have seen the inspired expression of his
intellectual brow, and the earnest, spiritual look that seemed to
penetrate the clouds that hang over the eternal world and to reflect its
light. On the Sundays of his sojourn with us he had domestic worship in
our houses, and his last service was in that apartment where his beloved
friend Follen officiated....

Eliza Follen is recovering the elasticity of her mind. Time can, I
think, do all things, since it has dissipated that horrible image of the
burning steamer in which her husband perished, that was ever before her.
She is publishing his Memoirs, and, among other things, she read me some
patriotic songs which he wrote in Sand's time in Germany; they were in
the boldest tone of insurrection, and were, of course, proscribed and
suppressed. She had heard her husband occasionally hum a stanza or two
of them, and he had once written out a single one for her which she
found in her work-basket. This she transmitted to his mother in Germany,
and with this clue alone the mother obtained the rest; and eloquent
outbreakings they are of a spirit glowing with freedom and humanity....

I have passed lately a day at our State Lunatic Asylum. On my first
going there, in the evening the physician invited me into the
dancing-hall, where some sixty of the patients were assembled. The two
musicians were patients, one utterly _demented_, incapable of any
reasonable act except playing a tune on his violin, which he did with
accuracy. Except the doctor's children (as beautiful as cherubs, and
ministering angels they are), there were no sane persons among the
dancers. "There," said the physician, "is a homicide; there, a poor girl
who went crazy the day after her brother drowned himself, and who
fancies herself that brother; there, the King of England," etc. They
were all dancing with the utmost decorum and regularity. They attend
chapel on a Sunday without disturbance; they were all (among them
maniacs who had been for half a score of years chained in dungeons of
our common gaols) "clothed," and, if "not in their right mind,"
comfortable and cheerful; they _all_ had plants in their rooms and books
on their tables. Much depends on individual character, and the physician
is, as you would expect, a man of the highest moral power, and the very
embodiment of the spirit of benevolence, and if poetry and painting had
laid their heads together to give him a fitting form, they could have
done nothing better than nature has. My heart was ready to burst with
gratitude. Who can say the world does not move some forward steps?

                                    CLARENDON HOTEL, November 6th, 1842.

You know that it is now determined that we do not sail by the next

Dearest Granny, do not you, any more than I do, reckon which love is
best worth having, of young or old love; for all love is _inestimable_,
and should be gratefully rendered thanks for. There is something
charming and _pathetic_ in the _profusion_ with which the young love; it
is touching, as one of the magnificent superabundances, one of the
generous extravagances, of their prodigal time of life. But the love of
the old is as precious as the beggared widow's mite; and in bestowing it
they know what they give, from a store that day by day diminishes. The
affections of the young are as sudden and soft, as bright and bounteous,
as copious and capricious as the showers of spring; the love of the old
is the one drop in the cruse, which outlasts the journey through the

You may perhaps see in the papers a statement of the disastrous winding
up of the season at Covent Garden, or rather its still more disastrous
abrupt termination. After our all protesting and remonstrating with all
our might against my father's again being involved in that
Heaven-forsaken concern, and receiving the most positive and solemn
assurances from those who advised him into it for the sake of having his
name at the head of it that _no_ responsibility or liability whatever
should rest upon or be incurred by him; and that if the thing did not
turn out prosperously, it should be put an end to, and the theatre
immediately closed;--they have gone on, in spite of night after night of
receipts below the expenses, and now are obliged suddenly to shut up
shop, my poor father being, as it turns out, personally involved for a
considerable sum.

This, as you will well believe, is no medicine for his malady. I spend
every evening with him, and generally see him in the morning besides.
These last few days he suffers less acute pain, but complains more of
debility, and hardly leaves his sofa, where he lies silent, with his
eyes closed, apparently absorbed in painful sensations and reflections.
Yet, though he neither speaks to nor looks at me, he likes to have me
there; and, as Horace Twiss said, "to hear the scissors fall" now and
then, by way of companionship; and certainly derives some comfort from
the mere consciousness of my presence.

My sister has gone to Brighton for a few days, her health having quite
given way, what with hard work and harder worry. She returns on Monday,
but it is extremely doubtful whether she will resume her performances at
all, so that I fear the expectations of the clan Cavendish will be

She did act most charmingly in the "Matrimonio Segreto." In point of
fact, her comic acting is more perfect than her tragic, although there
are not in it, and naturally cannot be, the same striking exhibitions of
dramatic power; but it is smoother, more even, better finished.

You must get Lady Callcott's "Scripture Herbal." Lady Grey lent it me,
and I read it with great pleasure. It is an interesting, graceful, and
learned work, which she has illustrated very exquisitely. There is
something very sweet and soothing in the idea of last thoughts having
been thus devoted to what is loveliest in nature and holiest in

God bless you, dear Granny. Give my love to the lasses, and my
affectionate "duty" to my lord; and believe me

                              Your loving grandchild,
                                                                F. A. B.

    [Our departure for America was indefinitely postponed, and the
    American nurse I had brought to England with my children left me and
    returned home alone.]

                             THE CLARENDON, Monday, November 28th, 1842.

I duly delivered your message, and am desired to tell you that a house
is being looked for for us in your neighborhood, and that, as soon as
one is found that we think you will approve of, it will be taken.
Moreover, I am desired to add that the expensive reputation of the
Clarendon is very much exaggerated.... We have been here a fortnight
to-day, and I think there is every probability of our being here at
least a fortnight longer, even if we get away then.... My father suffers
less acutely these last few days, but his debility appears to increase
with the decrease of his positive pain....

My sister returned from Brighton to-day, completely set up again; she is
to go on with her performances till Christmas, when the whole concern
passes into the hands of Mr. Bunn, who perhaps is qualified to manage

I think I should like to _act_ with my sister during this month, in
order to secure their salaries to the actors, to make up the deficit
which now lies at the door of my father's management, to put a good
benefit into his poor pocket, to give rather a more cheerful ending to
my sister's theatrical career, and, though last, not least, for the
pleasure and _fun_ of acting with her. Don't you think we should have
good houses? and wouldn't _you_ come and see us?...

God bless you, dear Granny.

                              Ever your affectionate
                                                                F. A. B.

                                      THE CLARENDON, December 1st, 1842.

Lord Titchfield, who was here yesterday, begged me to ascertain from you
whether it is only _my_ bust that you desire, or whether you would like
to have casts from my father's and from the two of Adelaide. Write me
word, dear, that the magnificent marquis may fulfil your wishes, which
he is only waiting to know in order to send the one or the four heads to
you in Ireland....

My sister returned from Brighton on Monday, apparently quite recovered;
in good looks, good voice, and good spirits. The horrible mess in which
everybody is mixed up who has anything to do with Covent Garden, and in
which she is so deeply involved, renewed her annoyances and vexations
immediately on her arrival in town; but I passed the evening with her
yesterday, and she did not seem the worse for work or worry, for she
sang, for her own pleasure and that of her guests, the whole evening....

Give my kind remembrances to all your people, and believe me

                              Ever yours,

    [The Marquis of Titchfield was employing the French sculptor Dantan
    to make busts of my father, my sister, and myself, for him; and most
    kindly gave me casts of them all, and sent my friend Miss St. Leger
    a cast of mine.]

                                       THE CLARENDON, January 5th, 1843.

I have sent your wishes to Lord Titchfield, and I am sure they will be
quickly complied with. I have no idea that he means otherwise than to
_give_ you my bust; any other species of transaction being apparently
quite out of his line, and _giving_ his especial gift. I have,
nevertheless, taken pains to make clear to him your intentions in the
matter; I have desired him to have the bust forwarded to the care of Mr.
Green, because I thought you would easily find means of transporting it
thence to Ardgillan. Was this right?

The houses at Covent Garden are quite full on my sister's nights, but
deplorably empty on the others, I believe. I speak from hearsay, for I
have not been into the theatre since the terrible business of the late
break-up there, and do not think I shall even see her last performances,
for I have no means of doing so; I can no longer ask for private boxes,
as during my father's management, of course, nor indeed would it be
right for me to do so on her nights, because they all let very well; and
as for paying for one, or even for a seat in the public ones, I have not
a single farthing in the world to apply to such a purpose.... So you
see, my dear, I am in no case to treat myself to seats at the play,
either private or public.

Adelaide is still pretty well. The night before last was her benefit;
she had a very fine house, and sang "Norma," and the great scene from
"Der Freyschütz," and "Auld Robin Gray;" and yesterday evening she
seemed very tired, but she had people to dinner and to tea

Certainly one had need believe in something better than one sees, or at
any rate than I see just now; for such petty selfishnesses and
despicable aims, pursued with all the energy and eagerness which should
be bestowed upon the highest alone; such cheating, tricking, swindling,
lying, and slandering, are enough to turn any Christian cat's

I must tell you two things about Miss Hall that have given me such an
insight into the delights of the position of an English governess as I
certainly never had before. When first she joined us here at the
Clarendon, Anne was still with us, and she being always accustomed to
take her meals with the children, and yet of course not a proper
companion for Miss Hall, we thought that till the nurse went to America
we would request the governess to dine with us. On Anne's departure, I
signified to the head waiter that from that time Miss Hall would take
her dinner with the children; whereupon, with a smirk and sniff of the
most insolent disdain, and an air of dignity that had been hurt, but was
now comforted, the bloated superior servant replied, "Well, ma'am, to be
sure, it always was so in _them famullies_ where I have lived; the
governess never didn't eat at the table." The fact is natural, and the
reason obvious, but oh! my dear, the manner of the fat, pampered
porpoise of a man-menial was too horrid. Then, on going for a candle
into Miss Hall's room one evening, I found she had been provided with
tallow ones, and, upon remonstrating about it with the chambermaid, she
replied (with a courtesy at every other word to me), "Oh, ma'am, we
always puts _tallow_ for the governesses."

                    Good-bye, dear. God bless you.
                              Ever yours,

                                      CRANFORD HOUSE, January 8th, 1843.

I am spending two days at Cranford--you know, I believe, where I mean,
old Lady Berkeley's place.... I came to get the refreshment of the
country; old Lady Berkeley is very kind to me, and I like her daughters,
Lady Mary particularly. I came down yesterday (Saturday), and shall
return early to-morrow, for on Wednesday the children are to have a
party of their little friends, and I am making a Christmas-tree for them
(rather out of date), and expect to be exceedingly busy both to-morrow
and Tuesday in preparing for their amusement.

My father does not suffer nearly as much pain as he did a short time
ago, but his strength appears to me to be gradually diminishing....

    [Our return to America being once more indefinitely postponed, we
    now took a house in Upper Grosvenor Street, close to Hyde Park, to
    which we removed from the Clarendon, my sister residing very near
    us, in Chapel Street, Grosvenor Square.]

                 26, UPPER GROSVENOR STREET, Wednesday, March 1st, 1843.

Thank you, my dear T----, for your attention to our interests and
affairs.... It seems to me that to have to accept the conviction of the
unworthiness of those we love must be even worse than to lay our dearest
in the earth, for we may believe that they have risen into the bosom of
God. However, each human being's burden is the one whose weight must
seem the heaviest to himself, and He alone who lays them on proportions
them to our strength and enables us to walk upright beneath them....

                    [Extract from a letter from Miss Sedgwick.]

                                              NEW YORK, March 3rd, 1843.

The great topic with us just now is the trial of Mackenzie, of whom, as
the chief actor in the tragedy of the "Somers," you must have heard.
Some of your journals cry out upon him, but, as we think, only the
organs of that hostile inhuman spirit that bad minds try to keep alive
on both sides of the water. His life has been marked with courage and
humanity; all enlightened and unperverted, I may say all sane opinion
with us, is in his favor. After the most honorable opinion from the
Court of Inquiry, he is now under trial by court-martial, demanded by
his friends to save him from a civil suit. S----, the father of the Ohio
mutineer, is a man of distinguished talent, of education, and head of
the War Department, but a vindictive and unscrupulous man. He is using
every means to ruin Mackenzie, to revenge the death of a son,
Heaven-forsaken from the beginning of his days, and whose maturest acts
(he died at nineteen) were robbing his mother's jewel-case and stealing
money from his father's desk. My nephew is acting as Mackenzie's
counsel, and his wife, a Roman wife and mother, is a friend of mine....

I heard a story the other day, "a true one," that I treasured for you as
racy, as characteristic of slavery and human nature. A most notoriously
atrocious, dissolute, _hellish_ slave-owner died, and one of his
slaves--an old woman--said to a lady, "Massa prayed God so to forgive
him! Oh, how he prayed! And I am afraid God heard him; they say He's so

                               UPPER GROSVENOR STREET, April 17th, 1843.
  MY DEAR T----,

I have executed your commission with regard to two of the books you
desired me to get, but the modern Italian work, published in 1840, in
Florence, and the "Mariana" of 1600, I am very much afraid I shall not
be able to procure; the first because it would be necessary to send to
Florence for it, which could very easily be done, but then I shouldn't
be here to receive it; and the second, the copy of "Mariana," of the
edition you specify, because Bohn assures me that it is extremely rare,
having been suppressed on account of the king-killing doctrines it
inculcates, and the subsequent editions being all garbled and incorrect.
As you particularly specified that of 1600, of course I would not take
any other, and shall still make further attempts to procure that, though
Panizzi, the librarian of the British Museum, and Macaulay, who are both
friends of mine, and whom I consulted about it, neither of them gave me
much encouragement as to my eventual success. The "Filangieri" and
Buchanan will arrive with me. I would send them to G---- A----, but
that, as we return on the 4th of May, I think there is every reason to
expect that we shall be in America first.

So much for your commission. With regard to your complaint that I give
you nothing to do, I think you will have found that fault amended in my
last communication, wherein I request you to accept my father's power of
attorney, and undertake to watch over his interests in the New Orleans

As for people's comments on me or my actions, I have not lived on the
stage to be cowardly as well as bold; and being decidedly bold, "I thank
God," as Audrey might say, that I am not cowardly, which is my only
answer to the suggestion of "people saying," etc.

For a year and a half past I have been perfectly wretched at our
protracted stay in Europe, and as often as possible have protested
against our prolonged sojourn here, and all the consequences involved in
it. This being the case, "people" attributing our remaining here to me
troubles me but little, particularly as I foresaw from the first that
that must inevitably be the result of our doing so.

I seldom read the newspapers, and therefore have not followed any of the
details of this Mackenzie trial. The original transaction, and his own
report of it, I read with amazement; more particularly the report, the
framing and wording of which appeared to me utterly irreconcilable with
the fact of his having written, as Lord Ashburton informed me, a very
pleasing book, of which certainly the style must have been very
different. He, Lord Ashburton, spoke of him as though he knew him, and
gave him the same character of gentleness and single-mindedness that you

Although our return to America will be made under circumstances of every
possible annoyance and anxiety, it gives me heartfelt pleasure to think
I shall soon see all my good friends there again, among whom you and
yours are first in my regard....

Butler Place is to be let, if possible, and at any rate we are certainly
not to go back to it; whereat my poor little S---- cries bitterly, and I
feel a tightening at the heart, to think that the only place which I
have known as a _home_ in America is not what I am to return to.... The
transfer of that New Orleans stock by my father to me--I mean the law
papers necessary for the purpose--cost £50 sterling. England is a dear
country many ways.

Ellsler is in London now, and, I am assured by those who know, _diviner_
than ever. I think her gone off both in looks and dancing. That rascal
W---- has robbed her of the larger portion of her earnings. What a nice
lover to have!

Believe me ever

                              Yours most truly,
                                                                F. A. B.

                                                        April 15th 1843.

You must not scold if there are letters missing in my words this week,
for I have enough to do and to think of, as you well know, to put half
the letters of the alphabet out of my head for the next twelvemonth....

Immediately after breakfast on Saturday I went down on my knees and
packed till Emily came to walk with me, and packed after I came in till
it was time to go shopping and visiting. I went to bid the L----'s
good-bye; we dined with the Procters, and had a pleasant dinner: Mr. and
Mrs. Grote, Rogers, Browning, Harness and his sister. In the evening I
went to Miss Berry's, where Lady Charlotte Lindsay and I discoursed
about you, and she pitied you greatly for having, upon the top of all
your troubles, forgotten your keys....

Sunday morning I packed instead of going to church, and, in fact, packed
the blessed livelong day, with an interval of rest derived from an
interminable visit from Frederick Byng (_alias_ Poodle). Yesterday my
father and Victoire (my aunt), and Adelaide and E---- (who, to my
infinite joy, came home on Saturday), dined with us. My father was
better, I think, than the last evening we were with him, though, of
course, a good deal out of spirits. Victoire was pretty well, but quite
surprised and mortified at hearing that I would not suffer her to pack
my things, for fear of its fatiguing her; and told me how she had been
turning in her mind her best way of contriving to be here packing all
day, and home in Charlotte Street in time to give my father his dinner.
She is Dall's own sister!

Yesterday I completed, with Emily's assistance (which nearly drove me
mad), the packing of the great huge chest of books, boxes, etc., and she
and I walked together, but it was bitter cold and ungenial, regular
_beasterly_ wind. (Mrs. Grote says _she_ invented that name for it, and,
for reasons which will be obvious to you, I gave it up to her without a
blow.) In the afternoon I went shopping with Adelaide, and then flew
about, discharging my own commissions.

In the evening our "first grand party of the season came off;" nearly
two hundred people came, and seemed, upon the whole, tolerably well
amused. Adelaide and Miss Masson and I sang, and Benedict played, and it
all went off very well. There were six policeman at the door, and Irish
Jack-o'-lanterns without count; "the refreshment table was exceedingly
elegantly set out" by _Gunter_--at a price which we do not yet know....

I dread our sea-voyage for myself, for all sorts of physical reasons;
morally, I dare say I shall benefit from a season of absolute quiet and
the absence of all excitement. The chicks are well; they are to go down
to Liverpool on Saturday, in order to be out of the way, for we leave
this house on Monday, and their departure will facilitate the verifying
of inventories and all the intolerable confusion of our last hours. Mrs.
Cooper, as well as Miss Hall, will go with them to Liverpool, and I have
requested that, instead of staying in the town, they may go down to
Crosby Beach, six miles from it, and wait there for our arrival. This is
all my history. I am in one perpetual bustle, and I thank Heaven for it;
I have no leisure to think or to feel....

I beg leave to inform you that Miss Hall came to my party in a most
elegant black satin dress, with her hair curled in _profuse ringlets_
all over her head.

God bless you, my dear Hal. Good-bye.

                              Ever yours,
                                                                F. A. B.

                                             Thursday, April 27th, 1843.

You ask how it goes with me. Why, I think pretty much as it did with the
poor gentleman who went up in the flying machine t'other day, which,
upon some of his tackle giving way, began, as he describes, to "turn
round and round in the air with the most frightful velocity." My
condition, I think, too, will find the same climax as his, viz. falling
in a state of _senselessness_ into a steam-packet. If the account be
true, it was a very curious one. As for me, I am absolutely breathless
with things to do and things to think of.... Still, I get on (like a
deeply freighted ship in a churning sea, to be sure), but I _do_ make
some way, and the days _do_ go by, and I am glad to see the end of this
season of trial approaching, for all our sakes.

Any one would suppose I was in great spirits, for I fly about, singing
at the top of my voice, and only stop every now and then to pump up a
sigh as big as the house, and clear my eyes of the tears that are
blinding me. Occasionally, too, a feeling of my last moments here, and
my leave-taking of my father and sister, shoots suddenly through my
mind, and turns me dead sick; but all is well with me upon the whole,

Adelaide was in great health and spirits on Monday night, and sang for
us, and seemed to enjoy herself very much, and gave great delight to
everybody who heard her. She sang last night again at Chorley's, but I
thought her voice sounded a little tired. To be sure, in those tiny
boxes of rooms, the carpets and curtains choke one's voice back into
one's throat, and it just comes out beyond one's teeth, with a sort of
muffled-drum sound. Thus far, dearest Hal, yesterday. To-day, before I
left my dressing-room, I got your present. Thank you a thousand times
for the pretty chain [a beautiful gold chain, which, together with a
very valuable watch, was stolen from me in a boarding-house in
Philadelphia, almost immediately on my return there], which is
exquisite, and will be very dear. Yet, though I found the "fine gold,"
the empty page of letter-paper on each side of it disappointed me more
than it would have been grateful to express; but when I came down to
breakfast I found your letter, and was altogether happy.... I was
wearing my watch again, for I found the risk and inconvenience of always
carrying it about very tiresome, but I had it on an old silver chain
that I have had for some years. Yours is prettier even than my father's,
and I love to feel it round my neck.

You say you hope my sister will be brave on the occasion of our parting,
and not try my courage with her grief. I will answer for her. I am sure
she will be brave. I know of no one with more determination and
self-control than she has....

The secret of helping people every way most efficiently is to stand by
and be _quiet_ and _ready_ to do anything you _may be asked to do_. This
is the only real way to help people who have any notion of helping

On Monday evening we had our first party, which went off exceedingly
well. On Tuesday morning Emily and I walked together, and I packed till
lunch, after which I drove out with Adelaide, shopping for her, and
doing my own _do's_. In the evening I went to my father, whom I found in
most wretched spirits, but not worse in health. He has determined, I am
thankful to say, not to see the children again before they go, which I
think is very wise. After leaving him, I went to a party at our friend
Chorley's, where dear Mendelssohn was, and where I heard some wonderful
music, and read part of "Much Ado about Nothing" to them. Yesterday
Emily came, and we walked together, and I packed and did commissions all
day. Our second party took place in the evening, and we had all our
grandee friends and fine-folk acquaintances....

God bless you, dear Hal. Emily is waiting for me to go out walking with

                              Ever yours,

                                             26, UPPER GROSVENOR STREET.

I send you back Channing's book, with many thanks. The controversial
part of his sermons does not satisfy me. No controversy does; no
arguments, whether for or against Christianity, ever appear to me
_conclusive_; but as I am a person who would like extremely to have it
demonstrated _why_ two and two make four, you can easily conceive that
arguments upon any subject seldom seem perfectly satisfactory to me. As
for my convictions, which are, I thank God, vivid and strong, I think
they spring from a species of intuition, mercifully granted to those who
have a natural incapacity for reasoning, _i.e._ the whole female _sect_.
And, talking of them, I do not like Dryden, though I exclaim with
delight at the glorious beauty and philosophical truth of some of his
poetry; but oh! he has nasty notions about women. Did you ever see
Correggio's picture of the Gismonda? It is a wonderful portrait of
grief. Even Guercino's "Hagar" is inferior to it in the mere expression
of misery. Knowing no more of the story years ago than I gathered from a
fine print of Correggio's picture, I wrote a rhapsody upon it, which I
will show you some day.

The "Leaf and the Flower" is very gorgeous, but it does not touch the
heart like earnest praise of a virtue, loved, felt, and practised; and
Dryden's "Hymns to Chastity" would scarcely, I think, satisfy me, even
had I not in memory sundry sublime things of Spenser, Dante, and Milton
on the same theme. Thank you for both the books. Each in its kind is
very good.

                              I am yours very truly,
                                                                F. A. B.

    [Mr. Greville had lent me a volume of Dr. Channing's "Sermons," and
    Dryden's "Fables," which I had never before read.]

                        26, UPPER GROSVENOR STREET, Saturday, April 29th.

I send you back, with thanks, the critique on Adelaide. It is very civil
and, I think, not otherwise than just, except perhaps in comparing my
sister _at present_ to Pasta.

If genius alone were the same thing as genius and years of study, labor,
experience, and practice, genius would be a finer thing even than it is.
My sister perpetually reminded me of Pasta, and, had she remained a few
years longer in her profession, would, I think, have equalled her. I
could not give her higher praise, for nobody, since the setting of that
great artist, has even remotely reminded me of her. My sister's voice is
not one of the finest I have heard; Miss Paton's is finer, Clara
Novello's (the most perfect voice I ever heard) is finer. Adelaide's
real voice is a high mezzo-soprano, and in _stretching_ it to a higher
pitch--that of the soprano-assoluto--which she has done with infinite
pains and practice, in order to sing the music of the parts she plays, I
think she has impaired the quality, the perfect intonation, of the notes
that form the joint, the hinge, as it were, between the upper and middle
voice; and these notes are sometimes not quite true--at any rate, weak
and uncertain. In brilliancy of execution, I do not think she equals
Sontag, Malibran, or Grisi; _but_ there is in other respects no possible
comparison, in my opinion, between them and herself, as a lyrical
dramatic artist; and Pasta is the only great singer who, I think,
compares with her in the qualities of that noble and commanding order
which distinguished them both. In both Madame Pasta and my sister the
dramatic power is so great as almost occasionally to throw their musical
achievements, in some degree, into the shade. But in their lyrical
declamation there is a grandeur and breadth of style, and a tragic depth
of passion, far beyond that of any other musical performers I have
known. In one respect Adelaide had the promise of greater excellence
than Pasta--the versatility of her powers and her great talent for

How little her beautiful face was ever disfigured by her vocal efforts
you have seen; and noted, I know, that power of appealing to Heaven at
once with her lustrous eyes and her soaring voice; ending those fine,
exquisite, prolonged shakes on the highest notes with that gentle quiver
of the lids which hardly disturbed the expression of "the rapt soul
sitting in her eyes." She has a musical sensibility which comprehends,
in both senses of the word, every species of musical composition, and
almost the whole lyrical literature of Europe; in short, she belongs, by
organization and education, to the highest order of artists. But
why--oh, why am I giving you a dissertation on her and her gifts, for a
purpose which will never again challenge her efforts or their exercise?
(Quite lately, one who knew and loved her well told me that Rossini had
said of her, "To sing as she does three things are needed:
this"--touching his forehead,--"this"--touching his throat,--"and
this"--laying his hand on his heart;--"she had them all.")

I sometimes think, when I reflect upon the lives of theatrical artists,
that they are altogether unnatural existences, and produce--pardon the
bull--_artificial natures_, which are misplaced anywhere but in their
own unreal and make-believe sphere. They are the anomalous growth of our
diseased civilizations, and, removed from their own factitious soil,
flourish, I half believe, in none other. Do not laugh at me, but I
really do think that creatures with the temperaments necessary for
making good actors and actresses are unfit for anything else in life;
and as for marrying and having children, I think crossing wholesome
English farm stock with mythological cattle would furnish our fields
with a less uncanny breed, of animals.

I wish some laws were made shutting up all the theatres, and only
allowing two dramatic entertainments every year: one of Shakespeare's
plays, and one of Mozart's operas, at the cost of Government, and as a
national festivity. Now, I know you think I am quite mad, wherefore

                              I am ever yours most truly,
                                                                F. A. B.

                                      UPPER GROSVENOR STREET, May, 1843.

I am of Lord Dacre's mind, and think it wisest and best to avoid the
pain of a second parting with you. Light as _new_ sorrows may appear to
you, the heart--your heart--certainly will never want vitality enough to
feel pain through your kindly affections. God bless you, therefore, my
good friend, and farewell. For myself, I feel bruised all over, and
numbed with pain; so many sad partings have fallen one after another,
day after day, upon my heart, that acuteness of pain is lost in a mere
sense of unspeakable, sore weariness; and yet these bitter last days are
to be prolonged.... God help us all! But I am wrong to write thus sadly
to you, my kind friend; and indeed, though from this note you might not
think my courage what it ought to be, I assure you it does not fail me,
and, once through these cruel last days, I shall take up the burden of
my life, I trust, with patience, cheerfulness, and firm faith in God,
and that conviction which is seldom absent from my mind, and which I
find powerful to sustain me, that duty and not happiness is the purpose
of life; and that from the discharge of the one and the forgetfulness of
the other springs that peace which Christ told His friends He gave, and
the world gives not, neither takes away. Let dear B---- come and see me;
I shall like to look on her bright, courageous face again. Give my
affectionate love to Lord Dacre, and believe me

                    Ever gratefully and affectionately
                              Your grandchild,

                                  UPPER GROSVENOR STREET, May 3rd, 1843.

Thank you, dearest Hal, for Sydney Smith's letter about Francis Horner:
it is bolder than anything I had a notion of, but very able and very
amiable, and describes charmingly an admirable man. There is one
expression he--Sydney Smith--applies to Horner that struck me as
strange--he speaks of "important human beings" that he has known; and, I
cannot tell why, but with all my self-esteem and high opinion of human
nature and its capabilities in general, the epithet "important" applied
to human beings made me smile, and keeps recurring to me as comical. It
must have appeared much more so to you, I should think, with your
degraded opinion of humanity.

You ask how our second party went off. Why, very well. It was much
fuller than the other, and in hopes of inducing people to "spread
themselves" a little, we had the refreshments put into my drawing-room;
but they still persisting in sticking (sticking literally) all in the
room with the piano, which rather annoyed me, because I hate the
proximity of "important human beings," I came away from them, and had a
charming quiet chat in the little boudoir with Lord Ashburton and Lord
Dacre, during which they discussed the merits of Channing, and awarded
him the most _unmitigated_ praise as a good and great man. It is curious
enough that in America the opponents of Dr. Channing's views perpetually
retorted upon him that he was a clergyman, a mere man of letters, whose
peculiar mode of life could not possibly admit of his having large or
just, or, above all, practical political knowledge and ideas, or any
opinions about questions of government that could be worth listening to;
whereas these two very distinguished Englishmen spoke with unqualified
admiration of his sound and luminous treatment of such subjects, and,
instancing what they considered his best productions, mentioned his
letter to Clay upon the annexation of Texas, even before his moral and
theological essays.

Our company stayed very late with us, till near two o'clock; and upon a
remark being made about the much smaller consumption of refreshments
than on the occasion of our first party, D----, our butler, very
oracularly responded, "Quite a different class of people, sir;" which
mode of accounting for the more delicate appetite of our more
aristocratic guests, made with an ineffable air of cousinship to them
all, sent me into fits of laughing.

You ask me what I shall have to do from Monday till Wednesday, to fill
up my time and keep my thoughts from drowning themselves in crying. I
shall leave this house after breakfast for the _Clarendon_. I have a
great many small last articles to purchase, and shall visit all my
kindred once more. Then, too, the final packing for "board ship" will
take me some time, and I have some letters to write too. I dine with
Lady Dacre on Monday; they are to be alone except us and E---- and my
sister. I shall leave them at eight o'clock to go and sit with my father
till ten, his bed-time; and then return to Chesterfield Street [Lord
Dacre's]. As for Tuesday--Heaven alone knows how I shall get through it.

On Thursday last we dined with Sydney Smith, where we met Lord and Lady
Charlemont, Jeffrey, Frederick Byng, Dickens, Lady Stepney, and two men
whom I did not know,--a pleasant dinner; and afterwards we went to Mrs.
Dawson Damer's,--a large assembly, more than half of them strangers to

On Friday morning Adelaide and E---- and we breakfasted with Rogers, to
meet Sydney Smith, Hallam, and his daughter and niece, the United States
Minister, Edward Everett, Empson, and Sir Robert Inglis. After breakfast
I went to see Charles Greville, who is again laid up with the gout, and
unable to move from his sofa. We dined with my sister, who had a large
party in the evening; and as the hour for breaking up arrived, and I saw
those pleasant kindly acquaintances pass one after another through the
door, I felt as if I was watching the vanishing of some pleasant vision.
The nearest and dearest of these phantasmagoria are yet round me; but in
three days the last will have disappeared from my eyes, for who can tell
how long? if not forever!

All day yesterday I was extremely unwell, but packed vehemently....

Charles Young, who is a most dear old friend of mine, and dotes upon my
children, came to see them off, and went with them to the railroad.
S---- begged for some of her grandfather's hair, but that he might not
be told it was for her, for fear of grieving him!

This is the last letter you will get from me written in this house.
Victoire, quite tired out with packing, is lying asleep on the sofa, and
poor dear Emily sits crying beside me.

                              Ever yours,
                                                                F. A. B.

                                     LIVERPOOL, Thursday, May 4th, 1843.

I wrote to you last thing last night, dearest Hal; and now farewell! I
have received a better account of my father.... Dear love to Dorothy,
and my last dear love to you. I shall write and send no more loves to
any one. Lord Titchfield--blessings on him!--has sent me a miniature of
my father and four different ones of Adelaide. God bless you, dear.


                               HALIFAX WHARF, Wednesday, May 17th, 1843.

When I tell you that yesterday, for the first time, I was able to put
pen to paper, or even to hold up my head, and that even after the small
exertion of writing a few lines to my father I was so exhausted as to
faint away, you will judge of the state of weakness to which this
dreadful process of crossing the Atlantic reduces your very _robustious_

It is now the 17th of May, and we have been at sea thirteen days, and we
are making rapid way along the coast of Nova Scotia, and shall touch at
Halifax in less than an hour. There we remain, to land mails and
passengers, about six hours; and in thirty-six more, wind and weather
favoring us across the Bay of Fundy, we shall be in Boston. In fifteen
days! Think of it, my dearest Granny! when thirty used to be considered
a rapid and prosperous voyage.

My dear friend, how shall I thank you for those warm words of cheering
and affectionate encouragement which I received when I was lying worn
out for want of sleep and food, after we had been eight days on this
dreadful deep? My kind friend, I do not want courage, I assure you; and
God will doubtless give me sufficient strength for my need: but you can
hardly imagine how deplorably sad I feel; how poor, who lately was so
rich; how lonely, who lately was surrounded by so many friends. I know
all that remains to me, and how the treasure of love I have left behind
will be kept, I believe, in many kind hearts for me till I return to
claim it. But the fact is I am quite exhausted, body and mind, and
incapable of writing, or even thinking, with half the energy I hope to
gather from the first inch of dry land I step upon. Like Antæus, I look
for strength from my mother, the Earth, and doubt not to be brave again
when once I am on shore.

The moment I saw the dear little blue enamel heart I exclaimed, "Oh, it
is Lady Dacre's hair in it!" But tears, and tears, and nothing but
tears, were the only greeting I could give the pretty locket and your
and dear B----'s letters.

My poor chicks have borne the passage well, upon the whole--sick and
sorry one hour, and flying about the deck like birds the next....

Our passage has been made in the teeth of the wind, and against a heavy
sea the whole way. We have had no absolute storm; but the tender mercies
of the Atlantic, at best, are terrible. Of our company I can tell
nothing, having never left my bed till within the last three days. They
seem to be chiefly English officers and their families, bound for New
Brunswick and the Canadas. The ship stops, and to the perpetual flailing
of the paddles succeeds the hissing sound of the escaping steam. We are
at Halifax. I send you this earliest news of us because you will be
glad, I am sure, to get it.

Give my love to my dear lord; my blessing and a kiss to dear B----. I
will write to her from New York, if possible. God bless you, my dear
friend, and reward you for all your kindness to me, and comfort and make
peaceful the remainder of your earthly pilgrimage. I can hardly hold my
pen in my hand, or my head up; but am ever your grateful and


                                  PHILADELPHIA, Tuesday, May 23rd, 1843.

We landed in Boston on Friday morning at six o'clock, and almost before
I had drawn my first breath of Yankee air Elizabeth Sedgwick and Kate
had thrown their arms round me.

You will want to know of our seafaring; and mine truly was miserable, as
it always is, and perhaps even more wretched than ever before. I lay in
a fever for ten days, without being able to swallow anything but two
glasses of calves'-foot jelly and oceans of iced water. At the end of
this time I began to get a little better; though, as I had neither food,
nor sleep, nor any relief from positive sea-sickness, I was in a
deplorable state of weakness. I just contrived to crawl out of my berth
two days before we reached Halifax, where I was cheered, and saddened
too, by the sight of well-known English faces. I had just finished
letters to my father, E----, and Lady Dacre, for the _Hibernia_, which
was to touch there the next morning on her way _home_, and was sitting
disconsolate with my head in my hands, in a small cabin on deck, to
which I had been carried up from below as soon as I was well enough to
bear being removed from my own, when Mr. Cunard, the originator of this
Atlantic Steam Mail-packet enterprise, whom I had met in London, came
in, and with many words of kindness and good cheer, carried me up to his
house in Halifax, where I rested for an hour, and where I saw Major
S----, an uncle of my dear B----, and where we talked over English
friends and acquaintances and places, and whence I returned to the ship
for our two days' more misery, with a bunch of exquisite flowers, born
English subjects, which are now withering in my letter-box among my most
precious farewell words of friends.

The children bore the voyage as well as could be expected; sick one half
hour, and stuffing the next; little F---- _pervading_ the ship from stem
to stern, like Ariel, and generally presiding at the officers' mess in
undismayed she-loneliness.

Your friend Captain G---- was her devoted slave and admirer.... I saw
but little of the worthy captain, being only able to come on deck the
last four days of our passage; but he was most kind to us all, and after
romping with the children and walking Miss Hall off her legs, he used to
come and sit down by me, and sing, and hum, and whistle every imaginable
tune that ever lodged between lines and spaces, and some so original
that I think they never were imprisoned within any musical bars
whatever. I gave him at parting the fellow of your squeeze of the hand,
and told him that as yours was on my account, mine was on yours. He left
us at Boston to go on to Niagara.

Our ship was extremely full, and there being only one stewardess on
board, the help she could afford any of us was very little.... While in
Boston I made a pilgrimage to dear Dall's grave: a bitter and a sad few
minutes I spent, lying upon that ground beneath which she lay, and from
which her example seemed to me to rise in all the brightness of its
perfect lovingness and self-denial. The oftener I think of her, the more
admirable her life appears to me. She was undoubtedly gifted by nature
with a temperament of rare healthfulness and vigor, which, combined with
the absence of imagination and nervous excitability, contributed much to
her uniform cheerfulness, courage, and placidity of temper; but her
self-forgetfulness was most uncommon, her inexhaustible kindliness and
devotedness to every creature that came within her comfortable and
consolatory influence was "twice-blessed," and from her grave her lovely
virtues seemed to call to me to get up and be of good cheer, and strive
to forget myself, even as perfectly as she had done.... How bitter and
dark a thing life is to some of God's poor creatures!

I have told you now all I have to tell of myself, and being weary in
spirit and in body, will bid you farewell, and go and try to get some
sleep. God bless you, my beloved friend; I am very sad, but far from out
of courage. Give dear Dorothy my affectionate love.

                              I am ever yours,

                                      PHILADELPHIA, Tuesday, 30th, 1843.
  MY DEAR F----,

We are all established in a boarding-house here, where my acquaintances
assure me that I am very comfortable; and so I endeavor to persuade
myself that my acquaintances are better judges of that than I am myself.
It is the first time in my life that I have ever lived in any such
manner or establishment; so I have no means of trying it by comparison;
it is simply detestable to me, but compared with _more_ detestable
places of the same sort it is probably _less_ so. "There are
differences, look you!" ...

I am sure your family deserve to have a temple erected to them by all
foreigners in America; for it seems to me that you and your people are
home, country, and friends to all such unfortunates as happen to have
left those small items of satisfaction behind them. The stranger's
blessing should rest on your dwellings, and one stranger's grateful
blessing does rest there....

                              Believe me, yours most truly,
                                                                F. A. B.

_Please to observe_ that the charge of 13_s._ 8_d._ is for personal
advice, conferences, and tiresome morning visits; and if you make any
such charge, I shall expect you to earn it. 6_s._ 4_d._ is all you are
entitled to for anything but personal communication.

    [This postscript, and the beginning of the letter, were jesting
    references to a lawyer's bill, amounting to nearly £50, presented to
    me by a young legal gentleman with whom we had been upon terms of
    friendly acquaintance, and whom we had employed, as he was just
    beginning business, to execute the papers for the deed of gift I
    have mentioned, by which my father left me at his death my earnings,
    the use of which I had given up to him on my marriage for his

    Our young legal gentleman used to pay us the most inconceivably
    tedious visits, during which his principal object appeared to be to
    obtain from us every sort of information upon the subject of all and
    sundry American investments and securities. Over and over again I
    was on the point of saying "Not at home" to these interminably
    wearisome visitations, but refrained, out of sheer good nature and
    unwillingness to mortify my _visitant_. Great, therefore, was our
    surprise, on receiving a _bill of costs_, to find every one of these
    intolerable intrusions upon our time and patience charged, as
    personal business consultations, at 13_s._ 8_d._ The thing was so
    ludicrous that I laughed till I cried over the price of our friend's
    civilities. On paying the amount, though of course I made no comment
    upon the price of my social and legal privileges, I suppose the
    young gentleman's own conscience (he was only just starting in his
    profession, and may have had one) pricked him slightly, for with a
    faint hysterical giggle, he said, "I dare say you think it rather
    sharp practice, but, you see, getting married and furnishing the
    house is rather expensive,"--an explanation of the reiterated
    thirteens and sixpences of the bill, which was candid, at any rate,
    and put them in the more affable light of an extorted wedding
    present, which was rather pleasant.]

                                           PHILADELPHIA, June 4th, 1843.

You will long ere this have received my grateful acknowledgments of your
pretty present and most kind letter, received, with many tears and
heart-yearnings, in the middle of that horrible ocean. I will not renew
my thanks, though I never can thank you enough for that affectionate
inspiration of following me on that watery waste, with tokens of your
remembrance, and cheering that most dismal of all conditions with such
an unlooked-for visitation of love.

I wrote to you from Halifax, where, on the deck of our steamer, your
name was invoked with heartfelt commendations by myself and Major S----.
That was a curious conversation of his and mine, if such it could be
called; scarcely more than a breathless enumeration of the names of all
of you, coupled indeed with loving and admiring additions, and
ejaculations full of regret and affection. Poor man, how I did pity him!
and how I did pity myself!

I have just written to our B----, and feel sad at the meagre and
unsatisfactory account which my letter contains of me and mine; to you,
my excellent friend, I will add this much more.... But I shall forbear
saying anything about my conditions until they become better in
themselves, or I become better able to bear them. God bless you and
those you love, my dear Lady Dacre. Give my affectionate "duty" to my
lord, and believe me ever your gratefully attached

                                                                F. A. B.

                                          PHILADELPHIA, June 26th, 1843.

Your sad account of Ireland is only more shocking than that of the
newspapers because it is yours, and because you are in the midst of all
this wild confusion and dismay. How much you must feel for your people!
However much one's sympathy may be enlisted in any public cause, the
private instances of suffering and injustice, which inevitably attend
all political changes wrought by popular commotion, are most afflicting.

I hardly know what it is reasonable to expect from, or hope for,
Ireland. A separation from England seems the wildest project
conceivable; and yet, Heaven knows, no great benefit appears hitherto to
have accrued to the poor "earthen pot" from its fellowship with the
"iron" one. As for hoping that quiet may be restored through the
intervention of military force, at the bayonet's point,--I cannot hope
any such thing. Peace so procured is but an earnest of future war, and
the victims of such enforced tranquillity bequeath to those who are only
temporarily _quelled_, not permanently _quieted_, a legacy of revenge,
which only accumulates, and never goes long unclaimed and unpaid.
England seems to me invariably to deal unwisely with her dependencies;
she performs in the Christian world very much the office that Rome did
in the days of her great heathen supremacy--carry to the ends of the
earth by process of conquest the seeds of civilization, of legislation,
and progress; and then, as though her mission was fulfilled, by gradual
mismanagement, abuse of power, and insolent contempt of those she has
subjugated, is ejected by the very people to whom she had brought, at
the sword's point, the knowledge of freedom and of law. It is a singular
office for a great nation, but I am not sure that it is not our
Heaven-appointed one, to conquer, to improve, to oppress, to be
rebelled against, to coerce, and finally to be kicked out, _videlicet_,
these United States.

But now to matters personal.... The intense heat affects me extremely;
and not having a horse, or any riding exercise, the long walks which I
compel myself to take over these burning brick pavements, and under this
broiling sun, are not, I suppose, altogether beneficial to me....

I went to church yesterday, and Mr. F---- preached an Abolition sermon.
This subject seems to press more and more upon his mind, and he speaks
more and more boldly upon it, in spite of having seen various members of
his congregation get up and leave the church in the middle of one of his
sermons in which he adverted to the forbidden theme of slavery. Some of
these, who had been members of the church from its earliest
establishment, and were very much attached to him, expressed their
regret at the course they felt compelled to adopt, and said if he would
only _give them notice_ when he intended to preach upon that subject
they would content themselves with absenting themselves on those
occasions only, to which his reply not unnaturally was, "Why, those who
would leave the church on those occasions are precisely the persons who
are in need of such exhortations!"--and of course he persevered.

I think it will end by his being expelled by his congregation. It will
be well with him wherever he goes; but alas for those he leaves! I
expect to be forbidden to take S---- to church, as soon as the report of
yesterday's sermon gets noised abroad....

God bless you, dear. Good-bye. I am heavy-hearted, and it is a great
effort to me to write. What would I not give to see you! Love to dear
Dorothy, when you see or write to her.

                              I am ever yours,

                           YELLOW SPRINGS, PENNSYLVANIA, July 6th, 1843.

Here I am sitting (not indeed "on a rail"), but next thing to it, on the
very hardest of wooden benches; my feet on the very hardest bar of the
very hardest wooden chair; and my _cork_ inkstand, of the most primitive
formation, placed on a rough wooden table about a foot square, which is
not large enough to hold my paper (so my knees are my desk), and is
covered with a coarse piece of rag carpeting;--the whole, a sort of
prison-cell furnishing. Before me stretches as far as it can about a
quarter of an acre of degraded uneven ground, enclosed in a dilapidated
whitewashed wooden paling, and clothed, except in several mangy bare
patches, with rank weedy grass, untended unwholesome shrubs, and untidy
neglected trees.... Behind me is a whitewashed room about fifteen feet
by twelve, containing a rickety, black horse-hair sofa, all worn and
torn into prickly ridges; six rheumatic wooden chairs; a lame table
covered with a plaid shawl of my own, being otherwise without cloth to
hide its nakedness or the indefinite variety of dirt-spots and stains
which defile its dirty skin. In this room Miss Hall and S---- are busily
engaged at "lessons." Briefly, I am sitting on the piazza (so-called) of
one of a group of tumble-down lodging-houses and hotels, which,
embosomed in a beautiful valley in Pennsylvania, and having in the midst
of them an exquisite spring of mineral water, rejoice in the title of
the "Yellow Springs."

Some years ago this place was a fashionable resort for the
Philadelphians, but other watering-places have carried off its fashion,
and it has been almost deserted for some time past; and except invalids
unable to go far from the city (which is within a three hours' drive
from here), and people who wish to get fresh air for their children
without being at a distance from their business, very few visitors come
here, and those of an entirely different sort from the usual summer
haunters of watering-places in the country.

The heat in the city has been perfectly frightful.... On Sunday last a
thermometer, rested on the ground, rose to 130°, that being the heat of
the earth; and when it was hung up in the shade the mercury fell, but
remained at 119°. Imagine what an air to breathe!... Late in the
afternoon last Sunday, a storm came on like a West Indian tornado; the
sky came down almost to the earth, the dust was suddenly blown up into
the air in red-hot clouds that rushed in at the open windows like thick
volumes of smoke, and then the rain poured from the clouds, steadily,
heavily, and continuously, for several hours.

In the night the whole atmosphere changed, and as I sat in my
children's nursery after putting them to bed in the dark, that they
might sleep, I felt gradually the spirit of life come over the earth, in
cool breezes between the heavy showers of rain. The next morning the
thermometer was below 70°, 30° lower than the day before.... This
morning the children took me up a hill which rises immediately at the
back of the house, on the summit of which is a fine crest of beautiful
forest-trees, from which place there is a charming prospect of hill and
dale, a rich rolling country in fine cultivation--the yellow crops of
grain, running like golden bays into the green woodland that clothes the
sides and tops of all the hills, the wheat, the grass, the oats, and the
maize, all making different checkers in the pretty variegated patchwork
covering of the prosperous summer earth.

The scattered farmhouses glimmered white from among the round-headed
verdure of their neighboring orchards. Nowhere in the bright panorama
did the eye encounter the village, the manor-house, and the church
spire,--that picturesque poetical group of feudal significance; but
everywhere, the small lonely farmhouse, with its accompaniments of huge
barns and outhouses, ugly the one and ungainly the others, but standing
in the midst of their own smiling well-cultivated territory, a type of
independent republicanism, perhaps the pleasantest type of its
pleasantest features.

In the whole scene there was nothing picturesque or poetical (except,
indeed, the blue glorious expanse of the unclouded sky, and the noble
trees, from the protection of whose broad shade we looked forth upon the
sunny world). But the wide landscape had a peaceful, plenteous,
prosperous aspect, that was comfortable to one's spirit and exceedingly
pleasant to the eye.

After our walk we came down into the valley, and I went with the
children to the cold bath--a beautiful deep spring of water, as clear as
crystal and almost as cold as ice, surrounded by whitewashed walls,
which, rising above it to a discreet height, screen it only from earthly
observers. No roof covers the watery chamber but the green spreading
branches of tall trees and the blue summer sky, into which you seem to
be stepping as you disturb the surface of the water. Into this lucid
liquid gem I gave my chickens and myself, overhead, three breathless
dips--it is too cold to do more,--and since that I have done nothing
but write to you.

You ask what is said to Sydney Smith's "petition." Why, the honest men
of the country say, "'Tis true, 'tis pity; pity 'tis, 'tis true." It is
thought that Pennsylvania will _ultimately_ pay, and not repudiate, but
it will be _some time_ first. God bless you, my dear Hal. I have not
been well and am miserably depressed, but the country always agrees
excellently with me.

                              Ever yours,

                                        PHILADELPHIA, Sunday, 9th, 1843.
  MY DEAR T----,

After last Sunday's awful heat, it became positively impossible to keep
the children any longer in Philadelphia; and they were accordingly
removed to the Yellow Springs, a healthy and pleasant bathing-place at
three hours' distance from the city. On Saturday morning their nurse,
the only servant we have, thought proper to disapprove of my deportment
towards her, and left me to the maternal delights of dressing, washing,
and looking after my children during that insufferable heat. Miss H----
was entirely incapacitated, and I feared was going to be ill, and I have
reason to thank Heaven that I am provided with the constitution that I
have, for it is certain that I need it. On Sunday night a violent storm
cooled the atmosphere, and on Monday morning the nurse was good enough
to forgive me, and came back: so that the acme of my trial did not last
too long. On Tuesday the children were removed to the country, and
though the physician and my own observation assured me that F----
required sea-bathing, it is an unspeakable relief to me to see her out
of the city, and to find this place healthy and pleasant for them. The
country is pretty, the air pure, the baths delightful; and my chicks,
thank God, already beginning to improve in health and spirits.

As for the accommodations, the less said about them the better. We
inhabit a sort of very large barn, or barrack, divided into sundry
apartments, large and small; and having gleaned the whole house to
furnish our _drawing-room_, that chamber now contains one rickety table,
one horse-hair sofa that has three feet, and six wooden chairs, of
which it may be said that they have several legs among them; but I must
add that we have the whole house to ourselves, and our meals are brought
to us from the "Great Hotel" across the street,--privileges for which it
behoves me to be humbly thankful, and so I am. If the children thrive I
shall be satisfied; and as for accommodation, or even common comfort, my
habitation and mode of life in our Philadelphia boarding-house have been
so far removed from any ideas of comfort or even decency that I ever
entertained, that the whitewashed walls, bare rooms, and tumble-down
verandas of my present residence are but little more so.... I suppose
there was something to like in Mr. Webster's speech, since you are
surprised at my not liking it; but what was there to like? The one he
delivered on the laying of the foundation-stone of the monument (on
Bunker's Hill, near Boston) pleased me very much indeed; I thought some
parts of it very fine. But the last one displeased me utterly.... Pray
send me word all about that place by the sea-side, with the wonderful
name of "Quoge." My own belief is that the final "e" you tack on to it
is an affected abbreviation for the sake of refinement, and that it is,
by name and nature, really "Quagmire."

                    Believe me always
                              Yours truly,
                                                                F. A. B.

                                        YELLOW SPRINGS, July 12th, 1843.

The intelligence contained in your letter [of the second marriage of the
Rev. Frederick Sullivan, whose first wife was Lady Dacre's only child]
gave me for an instant a painful shock, but before I had ended it that
feeling had given place to the conviction that the contemplated change
at the vicarage was probably for the happiness and advantage of all
concerned. The tone of B----'s letter satisfied me, and for her and her
sister's feeling upon the subject I was chiefly anxious. About you, my
dearest Granny, I was not so solicitous; however deep your sentiment
about the circumstance may be, you have lived long and suffered much,
and have learned to accept sorrow wisely, let it come in what shape it
will. The impatience of youth renders suffering very terrible to it; and
the eager desire for happiness which belongs to the beginning of life
makes sorrow appear like some unnatural accident (almost a personal
injury), a sort of horrid surprise, instead of the all but daily
business, and part of the daily bread of existence, as one grows by
degrees to find that it is.

His daughter's feeling about Mr. Sullivan's marriage being what it is,
the marriage itself appears to me wise and well; and I have no doubt
that it will bring a blessing to the home at the vicarage and its dear
inmates. Pray remember me most kindly to Mr. Sullivan, and beg him to
accept my best wishes for his happiness, and that of all who belong to
him; the latter part of my wish I know he is mainly instrumental in
fulfilling himself. May he find his reward accordingly!

Of myself, my dear friend, what shall I tell you? I am in good health,
thank God! and as much good spirits as inevitably belong to good health
and a sound constitution in middle life....

The intense heat of the last month had made both my children ill, and a
week ago they were removed to this place, called the Yellow Springs,
from a fine mineral source, the waters of which people bathe in and
drink. Round it is gathered a small congregation of rambling
farm-houses, built for the accommodation of visitors. The country is
pretty and well cultivated, and the air remarkable for its purity and
healthiness; and here we have taken lodgings, and shall probably remain
during all the heat of the next six weeks, after which I suppose we
shall return to town.

I wish you could see my present _locale_. The house we are in is the
furthest from the "Hotel" (as it is magnificently called), and is a
large, rambling, whitewashed edifice, with tumble-down wooden piazzas
(verandas, as we should call them) surrounding its ground-floor. This
consists of one very large room, intended for a public dining-room, with
innumerable little cells round it, all about twelve feet by thirteen,
which are the bedrooms. One of these spacious sleeping-apartments,
opening on one side to the common piazza and on the other to the common
eating-room, is appropriated to me as a "private parlor," as it is
called; and being at present, most fortunately, the only inmates of this
huge barrack, we have collected into this "extra exclusive" saloon all
the furniture that we could glean out of all the other rooms in the
house; and what do you think we have got? Two tiny wooden tables,
neither of them large enough to write upon; a lame horse-hair sofa, and
six lame wooden chairs. As the latter, however, are not all lame of the
same leg, it is quite a pretty gymnastic exercise to balance one's self
as one sits by turns upon each of them, bringing dexterously into play
all the different muscles necessary to maintain one's seat on any of
them. It makes sitting quite a different process from what I have ever
known it to be, and separates it entirely from the idea usually
connected with it, of rest. But this we call luxury, and, compared with
the condition of the other rooms (before we had stripped them of their
contents), so it undoubtedly is. The walls of this boudoir of mine are
roughly whitewashed, the floor roughly boarded, and here I abide with my
chicks. The decided improvement in their health and looks and spirits,
since we left that horrible city, is a great deal better than sofas and
armchairs to me, or anything that would be considered elsewhere the mere
decencies of life; and having the means of privacy and cleanliness, my
only two absolute indispensables, I take this rather primitive existence
pleasantly enough. This house is built at the foot of a low hill, the
sides of which are cultivated; while the immediate summit retains its
beautiful crest of noble trees, from beneath which to look out over the
wide landscape is a very agreeable occupation towards sunset.

Chester County, as this is called, is the richest, agriculturally
speaking, in Pennsylvania; and the face of the country is certainly one
of the comeliest, well-to-do, smiling, pleasant earth's faces that can
be seen on a summer's day; the variety of the different tinted crops
(among them the rich green of the maize, or Indian corn, which we have
not in England), clothing the hill-sides and running like golden bays
into the green forest that once covered them from base to summit, and
still crowns every highest point, forms the gayest coat of many colors
for the whole rural region.

The human interest in the landscape is supplied not by village, mansion,
parsonage, or church, but by numerous small isolated farm-houses, their
white walls gleaming in the intense sunlight from amidst the trim
verdure of their orchards, and their large barns and granaries surveying
complacently far and wide the abundant harvests that are to be gathered
into their capacious walls. The comfort, solidity, loneliness, and
inelegance, not to say ugliness, of these rural dwellings is highly
characteristic, the latter quality being to a certain degree modified by
distance; the others represent very pleasingly, in the midst of the
prosperous prospect, the best features of the institutions which govern
the land--security, freedom, independence.

There is nothing visibly picturesque or poetical in the whole scene;
nothing has a hallowed association for memory, or an exciting historical
interest, or a charm for the imagination. But under this bright and
ever-shining sky the objects and images that the eye encounters are all
cheerful, pleasing, peaceful, and satisfactorily suggestive of the
blessings of industry and the secure repose of modest, moderate

Dearest Granny, I had not intended to cross my letter to you; but the
young ones will decipher the scrawl for you, and I flatter myself that
you will not object to my filling my paper as full as it will hold.
These four small pages, even when they are crossed, make but a poor
amount of communication compared with the full and frequent personal
intercourse I have enjoyed with you.

What a shocking mess you are all making of it in Ireland just now! I
hear too that you are threatened with bad crops. Should this be true, I
do not wonder at my lord's croaking, for what will the people do?

The water we bathe in here is strongly impregnated with iron, and so
cold that very few people go into the spring itself. I do: and when the
thermometer is at 98° in the shade, a plunge into water below 50° is
something of a shock. B---- would like it, and so do I. Will you give my
affectionate remembrance to my lord, and

                    Believe me always, dear Granny,
                              Your attached
                                                                F. A. B.

                                        YELLOW SPRINGS, 19th July, 1843.

And so, my dear T----, you are a "tied-by-the-leg" (as we used, in our
laughing days, to call the penniless young Attachés to Legations)? I am
heartily sorry, as yours is not diplomatic but physical infirmity; and
would very readily, had I been anywhere within possible reach, have
occupied the empty arm-chair in your library, and "charmed your annoys"
to the best of my ability.... Dear me! through how long a lapse of
years your desire that I would undertake a translation of Schiller's
"Fiesco" leads me! When I was between sixteen and seventeen years old, I
actually began an adaptation of it to the English stage; but partly from
thinking the catastrophe unmanageable, and from various other motives, I
never finished it: but it was an early literary dream of mine, and you
have recalled to me a very happy period of my life in reminding me of
that labor of love. You perhaps imagine from this that I understood
German, which I then did not; my acquaintance with the German drama
existing only through very admirably executed literal French
translations, which formed part of an immense collection of plays, the
dramatic literature of Europe in innumerable volumes, which was one of
my favorite studies in my father's library.

I am not, however, at all of your opinion, that "Fiesco" is the best of
Schiller's plays. I think "Don Carlos," and "William Tell," and
especially "Wallenstein," finer; the last, indeed, finest of them all.
My own especial favorite, however, for many years (though I do not at
all think it his best play) was "Joan of Arc." As for his violation of
history in "Wallenstein" and "Mary Stuart," I think little of that
compared with the singular insensibility he has shown to the glory of
the French heroine's death, which is the more remarkable because he
generally, above most poets, especially recognizes the sublimity of
moral greatness; and how far does the red pile of the religious and
patriotic martyr, surrounded by her terrified and cowardly English
enemies and her more basely cowardly and ungrateful French friends,
transcend in glory, the rose-colored battle-field apotheosis Schiller
has awarded her! Joan of Arc seems to me never yet to have been done
justice to by either poet or historian, and yet what a subject for both!
The treatment of the character of Joan of Arc in "Henry VI." is one
reason why I do not believe it to be wholly Shakespeare's. He never, it
is true, writes out of the spirit of his time, neither was he ever
absolutely and servilely subject to it--for example, giving in Shylock
the delineation of the typical Jew as conceived in his day, think of
that fine fierce vindication of their common humanity with which he
challenges the Christian Venetians, Solanio and Solarino--"Hath not a
Jew eyes?" etc.

By-the-by, did you ever hear a whisper of a suggestion that Joan of Arc
was _not_ burned? There is such a tradition, that she was rescued,
reprieved, and lived to a fine old age, though rather scorched.

And now, at the fag end of my paper, to answer your question about
Leonora Lavagna. I think, beyond all doubt, the sentiment Schiller makes
her express as occurring to her at the altar perfectly natural. When the
character and position of Leonora are considered, her love for
Fiesco--however, chiefly composed of admiration for his person and more
amiable and brilliant personal qualities--must inevitably have derived
some of its strength from her generous patriotism and insulted family
pride; and nothing, in my opinion, can be more probable than that she
should have see in him the deliverer of Genoa, at the moment when every
faculty of her heart and mind was absorbed in the contemplation of all
the noble qualities with which she believed him endowed.

The love of different women is, of course, made up of various elements,
according to their natural temperament, mental endowments, and educated
habits of thought; and it seems to me the sort of sentiment Leonora
describes herself as feeling towards Fiesco at the moment of their
marriage is eminently characteristic of such a woman. So much for the
Countess Lavagna.

I think you are quite mistaken in calling Thekla a "merely ideal" woman;
she is a very _real_ German woman--rarely perhaps, but to be found in
all the branches of the Anglo-saxon tree, in England certainly, and even
in America.

To these subjects of very pleasing interest to me succeeds in your
letter the exclamation elicited by poor Mrs. D----'s misfortune,
"Blessed are they who die in the Lord!" to which let me answer, "Yea,
rather, blessed are they who live in the Lord!" Our impatience of
suffering may make death sometimes appear the most desirable thing in
all God's universe; yet who can tell what trials or probations may be
ordained for us hereafter? The idea that there "may be yet more work to
do," probably _must_ be (for how few finish their task here before the
night cometh when "no man can work," as far as this world is concerned,
at any rate!), is a frequent speculation with me; so that whenever, in
sheer weariness of spirit, I have been tempted to wish for death, or in
moments of desperation felt almost ready to seize upon it, the thought,
not of what I may have to suffer, but what I must have to do, _i.e._ the
work left undone here, checks the rash wish and rasher imagination, and
I feel as if I must sit down again to try and work. But weariness of
life makes the idea of existence prolonged beyond death sometimes almost
oppressive, and it seems to me that there are times when one would be
ready to consent to lie down in one's grave and become altogether as the
clods of the valley, relinquishing one's immortal birthright simply for
rest. To be sure you will answer that, for rest to be pleasurable,
consciousness must accompany it; but oh, how I should like to be
_consciously unconscious_ for a little while!--which possibly may strike
you as nonsense.

I dare say women are, as you say, like cats in a great many respects. I
acknowledge myself like one, only in the degree of electricity in my
hair and skin; I never knew anybody but a cat who had so much.

Thank you for the paper about Theodore Hook. I knew him and disliked
him. He was very witty and humorous, certainly; but excessively coarse
in his talk and gross in his manners, and was hardly ever strictly sober
after dinner....

                                         PHILADELPHIA, August 4th, 1843.

Indeed I am not spending my summer with my friends at Lenox, ... but
boarding at a third-rate watering-place about thirty miles from
Philadelphia, where there is a fine mineral spring and baths, remarkably
pure and bracing air, and a pretty, pleasant country, under which
combination of favorable influences we have all improved very much, and
dear little F---- looks once more as if she would live through the
summer, which she did not when we left Philadelphia. As for our
accommodations at this place, they are as comfortless as it is possible
to imagine, but that really signifies comparatively little.... I ride,
and walk, and fish, and look abroad on the sweet kindly face of Nature,
and commune gratefully with my Father in heaven whenever I do so; and
the hours pass swiftly by, and life is going on, and the rapid flight of
time is a source of rejoicing to me.... I laughed a very sad laugh at
your asking me if my watch and chain had been recovered or replaced.
How? By whom? With what? No, indeed, nor are they likely to be either
recovered or replaced. I offered, as a sort of inducement to
semi-honesty on the part of the thief or thieves, to give up the watch
and pencil-case to whoever would bring back my dear chain, but in vain.
Had I possessed any money, I should have offered the largest possible
reward to recover it; but, as it is, I was forced to let it go, without
being able to take even the usual methods resorted to for the recovery
of lost valuables. I will now bid you good-bye, dearest Hal. I have no
more to tell you; and whenever I mention or think of that chain, I feel
so sad that I hate to speak or move. I flatter myself that, were you to
see me now, you would approve highly of my appearance. I am about half
the size I was when last you saw me.

God bless you, dear. I am, therefore, only half yours,


                                        PHILADELPHIA, August 15th, 1843.
  MY DEAR T----,

Yesterday, at three o'clock, I was told that we must all return to town
by five, which accordingly was accomplished, not without strenuous
exertion and considerable inconvenience in making our preparations in so
short a time. I do not know in the least whether we are to remain here
now or go elsewhere, or what is to become of us....

I do not know the lines you allude to as mine, called "The Memory of the
Past," and think you must have written them yourself in your sleep, and
then accused me of them, which is not genteel. I have no recollection of
any lines of my own so called. Depend upon it, you dreamt them. I hope
you had the conscience to make good verses, since you did it in my name.
I have not supposed you either "neglectful or dead." I knew you were at
Quoge, which Mr. G---- reported to be a very nice place....

You have misunderstood me entirely upon the subject of truth in works of
fiction and art; and I think, if you refer to my letter, if you have it,
you will find it so. I hold truth sacred everywhere, but merely lamented
over Schiller's departure from it in the instance of "Joan of Arc" more
than in that of "Wallenstein."

It has been an annoyance to me to leave the Yellow Springs,
independently of the hurried and disagreeable mode of our doing so. I
like the country, which is really very pretty, and I have been almost
happy once or twice while riding over those hills and through those
valleys, with no influences about me but the holy and consolatory
ministerings of nature.

My activity of temperament and love of system and order (perhaps you did
not know that I possessed those last tendencies) always induce me to
organize a settled mode of life for myself wherever I am, no matter for
how short a space of time, and in the absence of nervous irritation or
excitement, regular physical exercise, and steady intellectual
occupation, always produce in me a (considering all things) wonderfully
cheerful existence; ... and my spirits, obedient to the laws of my
excellent constitution, rise above my mental and sentimental ailments,
and rejoice, like those of all healthy animals, in mere physical

Good-bye, dear T----. Remember me most kindly to S----; and

                              Believe me always yours very truly,
                                                                F. A. B.

                                        PHILADELPHIA, August 22nd, 1843.
  MY DEAR T----,

I am not sure that cordial sympathy is not the _greatest_ service that
one human being can offer another in this woe-world. Certainly, without
it, all other service is not worth accepting; and it is so strengthening
and encouraging a thing to know one's self kindly cared for by one's
kind, that I incline to think few benefits that we confer upon each
other in this life are greater, if so great....

The horrible heat, and the admonishing pallor that is again
overspreading my poor children's cheeks, has led to a determination of
again sending them out of town; and I heard yesterday that on Saturday
next they are to go to the neighborhood of West Chester. The fact of
going out of town again is very agreeable to me on my own account,
letting alone my sincere rejoicing that my children are to be removed
from this intolerable atmosphere; but all this packing and unpacking
which devolves upon me is very laborious and fatiguing, and the
impossibility of obtaining any settled order in my life afflicts me

_Peccavi!_ The verses you mentioned are mine, and you certainly might
have written much better ones for me in your sleep, if you had taken the
least pains. They were indited as many as twenty years ago, and how Mr.
Knickerbocker came possessed of them is a mystery to me....

I want you to do me a favor, which I have been thinking to ask you all
this week past, and was now just like to have forgotten. Will you ask
John O'Sullivan if he would care to have a review of Tennyson's Poems
from me, for the _Knickerbocker_, and what he will give me for such
review? I am compelled to be anxious for "compensation." Send me an
answer to this inquiry, please; and believe me

                              Very truly yours,
                                                                F. A. B.

P.S.--Lord Morpeth is a _lovely_ man, and I love him.

                                        PHILADELPHIA, August 25th, 1843.

A thousand thanks for your kind and comfortable letter, from the tone of
which it was easy to see that you were "as well as can be expected,"
both body and soul. Indeed, my dearest Granny, it is true that we do not
perceive half our blessings, from the mere fact of their uninterrupted
possession. Of our health this seems to me especially true; and it is
too often the case that nothing but its suspension or the sight of its
deplorable loss in others awakens us to a sense of our great privilege
in having four sound limbs and a body free from racking torture or
enfeebling, wasting disease. As for me, what I should do without my
health I cannot conceive. All my good spirits (and I have a wonderful
supply, considering all things) come to me from my robust physical
existence, my good digestion, and perfect circulation. Heaven knows, if
my cheerfulness had not a good tough root in these, as long as these
last, it would fare ill with me; and I fear my spiritual courage and
mental energy would prove exceedingly weak in their encounter with
adverse circumstances, but for the admirable constitution with which I
have been blessed, and which serves me better than I serve myself....

On the tenth of next month I am going up to the dear and pleasant
hill-country of Massachusetts, to pay my friends a visit, which, though
I must make it very short, will prove a most acceptable season of
refreshment to my heart and spirit, from which I expect to derive
courage and cheerfulness for the rest of the year, as I shall certainly
not see any of them again till next spring, for they are about two
hundred and fifty miles away from me, which, even in this country of
quite unlimited space, is not considered exactly next-door neighborhood.

You ask after "the farm," which is much honored by your remembrance. It
is let, and we are at present living in a boarding-house in town, and I
rather think shall continue doing so; but I really do not know in the
least what is to become of me from day to day....

I am grieved to hear of the affliction of the Greys. Pray remember me
very affectionately to Lady G. Her father's illness must be indeed a
sore sorrow to her, devoted as she is to him.

My dear Granny, do not you be induced to _croak_ about England. She may
have to go through a sharp _operation_ or two; but, depend upon it, that
noble and excellent constitution is by no means vitally impaired, and
she will yet head the nations of the earth, in all great and good and
glorious things, for a long time to come, in spite of Irish rows and
Welsh _consonants_ (is there anything else in Wales? How funny a
revolution must be without a vowel in it!) ... I believe that great and
momentous changes are impending in England; and when I suggest among
them as _possible_ future events the doing away with the law of
primogeniture, hereditary legislation, and the Church establishment, of
course you will naturally say that I think England is going to the dogs
faster even than you do. But I think England will survive all her
political changes, be they what they may, and, as long as the national
character remains unchanged, will maintain her present position among
the foremost peoples of the world; with which important and impressive
prophecy comfort yourself, dear Granny.

We are going out of town, to which we returned a fortnight ago,
to-morrow at half-past six in the morning, and it is now past midnight,
and I have every mortal and immortal thing to pack with my own single
pair of hands, which is Irish, Lord bless us! So good-night, dear

                              Believe me ever your affectionate

                                        PHILADELPHIA, August 25th, 1843.

You will pay no more, dear Hal, for this huge sheet of paper, being
single, I believe, than for its half; and I do not see why I should
cheat myself or you so abominably as by writing on such a miserable
allowance as the half sheet I have just finished to you.

Mr. Furness's abolition sermons have thinned his congregation a
little--not much.... There is no other Unitarian church in Philadelphia,
where the sect is looked upon with holy horror, pious commiseration, and
Christian reprobation, but where, nevertheless, Mr. Furness's own
character is held in the highest esteem and veneration.

Your question about society here puzzles me a good deal, from the
difficulty of making you understand the absolute absence of anything to
which you would give that name. I do not think there is anything,
either, which foreigners call _société intime_ in Philadelphia. During a
certain part of the year certain wealthy individuals give a certain
number of entertainments, evening parties, balls, etc. The summer months
are passed by most of the well-to-do inhabitants somewhere out of the
city, generally at large public-houses, at what are called fashionable
watering-places. Everybody has a street acquaintance with everybody; but
I know of no such thing as the easy, intimate society which you seem to
think inevitably the result of the institutions, habits, and fortunes in
this country.

It does not strike me that social intercourse is easy at all here; the
dread of opinion and the desire of conformity seem to me to give a tone
of distrust and caution to every individual man and woman, utterly
destructive of all freedom of conversation, producing a flatness and
absence of all interest that is quite indescribable. I have hitherto
always lived in the country, and mixing very little with the
Philadelphians have supposed that the mere civil formality at which my
intercourse with most of them stops short would lead necessarily to some
more intimate intercourse if I ever lived in the city. I now perceive,
however, that their communion with each other is limited to this
exchange of morning visits, of course almost exclusively among the
women; and that society, such as you and I understand it, does not exist

Yet, of course, there must be the materials for it, clever and pleasant
men and women, and I had sometimes thought, when I foresaw the
probability of our leaving our country house and establishing ourselves
in the city, that I should find some compensation in the society which I
hoped I might be able to gather about me; ... but I am now quite
deprived of any such resource as any attempt of the kind might have
produced, by my present position in a boarding-house, where I inhabit my
bedroom, contriving, for sightliness' sake, to sleep on a wretched
sofa-bed that my room by day may look as decent and little encumbered as
possible; but where the presence of wash-hand-stand and toilette
apparatus necessarily enforces the absence of visitors, except in public
rooms open to everybody.... I have received a great many morning visits,
and one or two invitations to evening parties, but I do not, of course,
like to accept civilities which I have no means of reciprocating, and so
I have as little to expect in the way of social recreation as I think
anybody living in a large town can have. So much for your inquiries
about my social resources in this country. Had I a house of my own in
Philadelphia, I should not at all despair of gradually collecting about
me a society that would satisfy me perfectly well; but as it is, or
rather as I am, the thing is entirely out of the question.

Of the discomfort and disorder of our mode of life I cannot easily give
you a notion, for you know nothing of the sort, and, until now, neither
did I. The absence of decent regularity in our habits, and the
slovenliness of our whole existence, is peculiarly trying to me, who
have a morbid love of order, system, and regularity, and a positive
delight in the decencies and elegancies of civilized life.

God bless you, dear.

                              Your affectionate

                                     PHILADELPHIA, September 1st, 1843.
  MY DEAR T----,

I know not how long your letter had been in Philadelphia, because I have
been out of town, and in a place so difficult of access that letters are
seldom forwarded thither without being lost or delayed long enough to be
only fit for losing.

I told you of our sudden removal from the Yellow Springs. In the
succeeding fortnight, which we spent in town, the children began again
to droop and languish and grow pale, and it was determined to send them
into the country again: rooms have been accordingly hired for us three
miles beyond West Chester, which is seven miles from the nearest
railroad station on the Columbia railroad, altogether about forty miles
from town, but for want of regular traffic and proper means of
conveyance an exceedingly tedious and unpleasant drive thence to the
said farm. Here there is indeed pure air for the children, and a blessed
reprieve from the confinement of the city; but so uncivilized a life for
any one who has ever been accustomed to the usual decencies of
civilization, that it keeps me in a constant state of amazement.

We eat at the hours and table of these worthy people, and I am a little
starved, as I find it difficult to get up a dinner appetite before one
o'clock in the day; and after that nothing is known in the shape of food
but tea at six o'clock. We eat with _two-pronged iron forks_; _i.e._ we
who are "sopisticate" do. The more sensible Arcadians, of course, eat
exclusively with their knives. The farming men and boys come in to the
table from their work, without their coats and with their shirt-sleeves
rolled up above their elbows; and my own nursemaid, and the
servant-of-all-work of the house, and any visitors who may look in upon
our hostess, sit down with us promiscuously to feed; all which, I
confess, makes me a little melancholy. It is nonsense talking about
positive equality; these people are sorry associates for me, and so, I
am sure, am I for them.

To-day I came to town to endeavor to procure some of the common
necessaries that we require: table implements that we can eat with, and
lights by which we may be able to pursue our occupations after dark.

I read your speech with great pleasure; it was good in every way. I am
glad you do not withdraw yourself from the field of action where your
like are so much wanted. I cannot give up my hope and confidence in the
institutions of your country; they are the expectation of the world; and
if the Americans themselves, by word or deed, proclaim their scheme of
free government a failure, it seems to me that the future condition of
the human race is ominously darkened, and that all endeavor after
progress or improvement is a fruitless struggle towards an unattainable
end. But this is not so. Your people will yet prove it, and it will and
must be through the influence and agency of worthy men like yourself,
to whom fitly belongs the task of rallying this faithless people, flying
from their standards in the great world-conflict. Call them back, such
of you as have voices that can be heard; for your nation is the vanguard
of the race, and if they desert their trust its degradation will be
protracted for long years to come.

The despondency of some of your best men is deplorable, and the selfish
discouragement in which they withdraw from the fight, giving place to
public evil for the sake of their personal quiet, a fatal omen to the
country. It is curiously unlike the spirit of Englishmen. Never,
certainly, were good men and true so needed anywhere as here at this
moment, when the noblest principles that men are capable of recognizing
in the form of a government seem about to be cast down from the rightful
supremacy your fathers gave them, and the light of freedom which they
kindled to lighten the world extinguished in distrust and dismay.

God bless you and prosper you in every good work. Remember me most
kindly to S----, and believe me always

                              Yours very truly,
                                                                F. A. B.

                                      PHILADELPHIA, September 9th, 1843.

Your English is undoubtedly better than Cicero's Latin to me, my dear
T----, inasmuch as I understand the one and not the other. I shall not
stop on my way through New York, on Monday, nor my way back, except to
spend a Sunday in your city, when I shall be very glad to see S---- and

I am disappointed at the uncertainty you express about being in Lenox
while I am there.

Can you ascertain for me whether the Harpers, the New York publishers,
would be willing to publish a volume of Fugitive Poems for me, and would
give me _anything_ for them? If it is not too much trouble to ascertain
this, it would be doing me a great service....

I write in haste, but remain ever yours,

                                                                F. A. B.

  DEAR T----,

I shall not dine with you to-day for various, all good, reasons, and
send you word to that effect, simply because it would not be so civil,
either to S---- or you, to leave my excuse till the time when I should
present myself.

I had hoped to have returned to Philadelphia with Mr. F---- this
morning, but I am to remain till after Thursday, when we were to have
given a dinner to Macready. He called this morning, however, and said he
had another engagement for Thursday, so what will be done in the matter
of our proposed entertainment to him I know not.

I hope your eyes are not the worse for that hateful theatre last night.
You cannot imagine how that sort of thing, to which I was once so used,
now excites and irritates my nerves. The music, the lights, the noise,
the applause, the acting, the grand play itself, "Macbeth,"--it was all
violent doses of stimulant; and I begin to think my mental constitution
is like gunpowder, only unignitable when in the water: I suppose that
accounts for my affection for water, apart from fishing.

I have got the greatest quantity of letters to write, and must begin
upon Tennyson, so I shall not want for occupation while I am kept here.

                              Yours ever truly,
                                                                F. A. B.

                                         NEW YORK, September 26th, 1843.

I was up till past two o'clock last night, and up at 5.30 this morning:
I have travelled half the day, from Philadelphia to New York, and
shopped the rest of the day, and am now steaming up the Hudson to
Albany, on my way to Lenox, where I am going to spend a few days with my
friends the Sedgwicks. Although I am very weary, and my eyes ache for
want of sleep, I must write to you before I go to bed; for once up in
Berkshire, I shall have but little time to myself, and I would not for a
great deal that the steamer should go to England without some word from
me to you.... So here I am wandering up forlornly enough, with poor
Margery for my attendant, who appears to me to be in the last stage of a
consumption, and to whom this little excursion may perhaps be slightly
beneficial, and will certainly be very pleasurable.... I shall in all
probability see none of the Sedgwicks again for a year....

I suppose, dear Hal, we are crossing the Tappan Zee (the broadest part
of the Hudson River, where its rapid current spreads from shore to shore
into the dimensions of a wide lake), and the boat rocks so much that I
feel sick, and must leave off writing and go to bed, after all. God
bless you, dear. Good-night.

Dearest Hal, this letter, which I had hoped to finish on board the
Hudson night-boat, was cut short by my fatigue and the rocking of the
vessel; and, as I expected, during my stay at Lenox no interval of
leisure was left me to do so....

I sprained my ankle slightly, jumping from off a fence; and though I
have carefully abstained from using my foot since I did so, it is still
so weak that I am afraid of standing upon it much, and must consequently
abide the results (invariable with me) of want of exercise, headache,
sideache, and nervous depression and irritability. When I get to
Philadelphia, if I am no better, I will hire a horse for a little while,
and shake myself to rights.

God bless you, dear Hal. Good-bye.

                              I am ever yours,

                                       PHILADELPHIA, October 10th, 1843.

How much I thank you for your generosity to me! for the watch you are
sending me, which I have not yet received. I cannot value it more than I
did that precious chain, the loss of which, happening at a time when I
was every way most unhappy, really afflicted me deeply.

I hope nothing will happen to this new remembrance of yours and token of
your love. I shall feel most anxious till it arrives, and then I think I
shall sleep with it round my neck, so great will be my horror of having
it stolen from me in this wretched and disorderly lodging-house, where,
as it is, I am in perpetual misery lest I should have left any closet or
drawer in my bed-room unfastened, and where we are obliged to lock our
sitting-room if we leave it for a quarter of an hour, lest our property
should be stolen out of it,--a state of anxious and suspicious caution
which is as odious as it is troublesome....

When I arrived in New York last Sunday morning on my return from
Berkshire, and was preparing to start for Philadelphia the next day, I
found I was to stay in New York to meet and greet Mr. Macready, who had
just landed in America, and to whom we are to give an entertainment at
the Astor House, as we have no house in Philadelphia to which we can
invite him....

My next errand, while I was out to-day, was to go and see a person who
has thought proper to go out of her mind about me. She is poor and
obscure, the sister of a tailor in this town; she had a little
independence of her own, but lent it to the State of Pennsylvania, after
the fashion of Sydney Smith, and has lost it, or at any rate the income
of it, which, after all, is all that signifies to her, as she is no
longer young and will probably not live to see the State grow honest,
which its friends and well-wishers confidently predict that it will.

This poor woman is really and positively mad about me, as I think you
will allow when I tell you that she is never happy when she sees me
unless she has hold of my hand _or my gown_; that she has bought a
portrait of me by Sully, over which she has put a ducal coronet, as she
says I am the _Duchess of Ormond_! It is really a serious effort of good
nature in me to go and see her, for her crazy adoration of me is at once
ludicrous and painful. But my visits are a most lively pleasure to
her--she thanks me for coming with the tears in her eyes, poor thing;
and it would be brutal in me to withhold from her a gratification
apparently so intense, because to afford it her is irksome and
disagreeable to me. Her name is N----, and she told me to-day (but that
may have been only another demonstration of her craziness) that there
was a large disputed inheritance in Ireland left to heirs unknown of
that name; that the true heirs could not be found, and that she really
believed she might be entitled to it if she only knew how to set about
establishing her right. She is the daughter of an English or Irish man,
and her family were well connected in England (I couldn't help thinking,
while she was talking, of your and my uncle John's dear Guilford). What
a curious thing it would be if this poor, obscure, old, ugly,
half-insane woman were really entitled to such a property! She is
tolerably well educated too, a good French and Italian scholar, and a
reader of obsolete books. She is a very strange creature.

I forget whether I told you that I had taken Margery up to Lenox with
me, in the hope that the change of air and scene might be of benefit to
her; but ever since her return she has been ill in her bed, poor thing!
and though the only servant-girl she had has left her, and she is in the
most forlorn and wretched condition possible, neither her mother nor her
sisters have been near her to help or comfort her--such is the Roman
Catholic horror of a divorced woman (for she has at length sued for and
obtained her divorce from her worthless husband). And so, I suppose,
they will let her die, such being, it seems, their notion of what is
right.... Poor woman! her life has been one entire and perfect

God bless you, dear. Good-bye.

                              Ever yours,
                                                                F. A. B.

                                        PHILADELPHIA, October 3rd, 1843.
  MY DEAR T----,

I have just received, by Harnden's Express, my Tennyson, which I had
left at Lenox, and with it your old note, written to me while I was yet
there, which the conscientious folk sent me down. It seems odd to read
all your directions about my departure from the dear hill-country and my
arrival in New York. How far swept down the current of time already seem
the pleasant hours spent up there! You do not know how earnestly I
desire to live up there. I do believe mountains and hills are kindred of
mine--larger and smaller relations, taller and shorter cousins; for my
heart expands and rejoices and beats more freely among them, and
doubtless, in the days which "I can hardly remember" (as Rosalind says
of her Irish Rat-ship), I was a bear or a wolf, or what your people call
a "panter" (_i.e._ a panther), or at the very least a wild-cat, with
unlimited range of forest and mountain. [The forests and hill-tops of
that part of Massachusetts had, when this letter was written, harbored,
within memory of man, bears, panthers, and wild-cats.] That cottage by
the lake-side haunts me; and to be able to realize that day-dream is now
certainly as near an approach to happiness as I can ever contemplate.

I am working at the Tennyson, and shall soon have it ready. Tell me, if
you can, where and how I am to