Subscribe for ad free access & additional features for teachers. Authors: 267, Books: 3,607, Poems & Short Stories: 4,435, Forum Members: 71,154, Forum Posts: 1,238,602, Quizzes: 344

Chapter 7

Straitened as we were for time, it was impossible to return home without a glimpse, at least, of Paris. Two precious years of my early manhood were spent there under the reign of Louis Philippe, king of the French, le Roi Citoyen. I felt that I must look once more on the places I knew so well,--once more before shutting myself up in the world of recollections. It is hardly necessary to say that a lady can always find a little shopping, and generally a good deal of it, to do in Paris. So it was not difficult to persuade my daughter that a short visit to that city was the next step to be taken.

We left London on the 5th of August to go via Folkestone and Boulogne. The passage across the Channel was a very smooth one, and neither of us suffered any inconvenience. Boulogne as seen from the landing did not show to great advantage. I fell to thinking of Brummel, and what a satisfaction it would have been to treat him to a good dinner, and set him talking about the days of the Regency. Boulogne was all Brummel in my associations, just as Calais was all Sterne. I find everywhere that it is a distinctive personality which makes me want to linger round a spot, more than an important historical event. There is not much worth remembering about Brummel; but his audacity, his starched neckcloth, his assumptions and their success, make him a curious subject for the student of human nature.

Leaving London at twenty minutes before ten in the forenoon, we arrived in Paris at six in the afternoon. I could not say that the region of France through which we passed was peculiarly attractive. I saw no fine trees, no pretty cottages, like those so common in England. There was little which an artist would be tempted to sketch, or a traveller by the railroad would be likely to remember.

The place where we had engaged lodgings was Hôtel d'Orient, in the Rue Daunou. The situation was convenient, very near the Place Vendome and the Rue de la Paix. But the house was undergoing renovations which made it as unpresentable as a moulting fowl. Scrubbing, painting of blinds, and other perturbing processes did all they could to make it uncomfortable. The courtyard was always sloppy, and the whole condition of things reminded me forcibly of the state of Mr. Briggs's household while the mason was carrying out the complex operations which began with the application of "a little compo." (I hope all my readers remember Mr. Briggs, whose adventures as told by the pencil of John Leech are not unworthy of comparison with those of Mr. Pickwick as related by Dickens.) Barring these unfortunate conditions, the hotel was commendable, and when in order would be a desirable place of temporary residence.

It was the dead season of Paris, and everything had the air of suspended animation. The solitude of the Place Vendome was something oppressive; I felt, as I trod its lonely sidewalk, as if I were wandering through Tadmor in the Desert. We were indeed as remote, as unfriended,--I will not say as melancholy or as slow,--as Goldsmith by the side of the lazy Scheldt or the wandering Po. Not a soul did either of us know in that great city. Our most intimate relations were with the people of the hotel and with the drivers of the fiacres. These last were a singular looking race of beings. Many of them had a dull red complexion, almost brick color, which must have some general cause. I questioned whether the red wine could have something to do with it. They wore glazed hats, and drove shabby vehicles for the most part; their horses would not compare with those of the London hansom drivers, and they themselves were not generally inviting in aspect, though we met with no incivility from any of them. One, I remember, was very voluble, and over-explained everything, so that we became afraid to ask him a question. They were fellow-creatures with whom one did not naturally enter into active sympathy, and the principal point of interest about the fiacre and its arrangements was whether the horse was fondest of trotting or of walking. In one of our drives we made it a point to call upon our Minister, Mr. McLane, but he was out of town. We did not bring a single letter, but set off exactly as if we were on a picnic.

While A---- and her attendant went about making their purchases, I devoted myself to the sacred and pleasing task of reviving old memories. One of the first places I visited was the house I lived in as a student, which in my English friend's French was designated as "Noomero sankont sank Roo Monshure ler Pranse." I had been told that the whole region thereabout had been transformed by the creation of a new boulevard. I did not find it so. There was the house, the lower part turned into a shop, but there were the windows out of which I used to look along the Rue Vaugirard,--au troisième the first year, au second the second year. Why should I go mousing about the place? What would the shopkeeper know about M. Bertrand, my landlord of half a century ago; or his first wife, to whose funeral I went; or his second, to whose bridal I was bidden?

I ought next to have gone to the hospital La Pitié, where I passed much of my time during those two years. But the people there would not know me, and my old master's name, Louis, is but a dim legend in the wards where he used to teach his faithful band of almost worshipping students. Besides, I have not been among hospital beds for many a year, and my sensibilities are almost as impressible as they were before daily habit had rendered them comparatively callous.

How strange it is to look down on one's venerated teachers, after climbing with the world's progress half a century above the level where we left them! The stethoscope was almost a novelty in those days. The microscope was never mentioned by any clinical instructor I listened to while a medical student. Nous avons changé tout cela is true of every generation in medicine,--changed oftentimes by improvement, sometimes by fashion or the pendulum-swing from one extreme to another.

On my way back from the hospital I used to stop at the beautiful little church St. Etienne du Mont, and that was one of the first places to which I drove after looking at my student-quarters. All was just as of old. The tapers were burning about the tomb of St. Genevieve. Samson, with the jawbone of the ass, still crouched and sweated, or looked as if he did, under the weight of the pulpit. One might question how well the preacher in the pulpit liked the suggestion of the figure beneath it. The sculptured screen and gallery, the exquisite spiral stairways, the carved figures about the organ, the tablets on the walls,--one in particular relating the fall of two young girls from the gallery, and their miraculous protection from injury,--all these images found their counterpart in my memory. I did not remember how very beautiful is the stained glass in the charniers, which must not be overlooked by visitors.

It is not far from St. Etienne du Mont to the Pantheon. I cannot say that there is any odor of sanctity about this great temple, which has been consecrated, if I remember correctly, and, I will not say desecrated, but secularized from time to time, according to the party which happened to be uppermost. I confess that I did not think of it chiefly as a sacred edifice, or as the resting-place, more or less secure, of the "grands hommes" to whom it is dedicated. I was thinking much more of Foucault's grand experiment, one of the most sublime visible demonstrations of a great physical fact in the records of science. The reader may not happen to remember it, and will like, perhaps, to be reminded of it. Foucault took advantage of the height of the dome, nearly three hundred feet, and had a heavy weight suspended by a wire from its loftiest point, forming an immense pendulum,--the longest, I suppose, ever constructed. Now a moving body tends to keep its original plane of movement, and so the great pendulum, being set swinging north and south, tended to keep on in the same direction. But the earth was moving under it, and as it rolled from west to east the plane running through the north and south poles was every instant changing. Thus the pendulum appeared to change its direction, and its deviation was shown on a graduated arc, or by the marks it left in a little heap of sand which it touched as it swung. This experiment on the great scale has since been repeated on the small scale by the aid of other contrivances.

My thoughts wandered back, naturally enough, to Galileo in the Cathedral at Pisa. It was the swinging of the suspended lamp in that edifice which set his mind working on the laws which govern the action of the pendulum. While he was meditating on this physical problem, the priest may have been holding forth on the dangers of meddling with matters settled by Holy Church, who stood ready to enforce her edicts by the logic of the rack and the fagot. An inference from the above remarks is that what one brings from a church depends very much on what he carries into it.

The next place to visit could be no other than the Café Procope. This famous resort is the most ancient and the most celebrated of all the Parisian cafés. Voltaire, the poet J. B. Rousseau, Marmontel, Sainte Foix, Saurin, were among its frequenters in the eighteenth century. It stands in the Rue des Fossés-Saint Germain, now Rue de l'Ancienne Comédie. Several American students, Bostonians and Philadelphians, myself among the number, used to breakfast at this café every morning. I have no doubt that I met various celebrities there, but I recall only one name which is likely to be known to most or many of my readers. A delicate-looking man, seated at one of the tables, was pointed out to me as Jouffroy. If I had known as much about him as I learned afterwards, I should have looked at him with more interest. He had one of those imaginative natures, tinged by constitutional melancholy and saddened by ill health, which belong to a certain class of poets and sentimental writers, of which Pascal is a good example, and Cowper another. The world must have seemed very cruel to him. I remember that when he was a candidate for the Assembly, one of the popular cries, as reported by the newspapers of the time, was A bas le poitrinaire! His malady soon laid him low enough, for he died in 1842, at the age of forty-six. I must have been very much taken up with my medical studies to have neglected my opportunity of seeing the great statesmen, authors, artists, orators, and men of science outside of the medical profession. Poisson, Arago, and Jouffroy are all I can distinctly recall, among the Frenchmen of eminence whom I had all around me.

The Café Procope has been much altered and improved, and bears an inscription telling the date of its establishment, which was in the year 1689. I entered the cafe, which was nearly or quite empty, the usual breakfast hour being past.

Garçon! Une tasse de café.

If there is a river of mneme as a counterpart of the river lethe, my cup of coffee must have got its water from that stream of memory. If I could borrow that eloquence of Jouffroy which made his hearers turn pale, I might bring up before my readers a long array of pallid ghosts, whom these walls knew well in their earthly habiliments. Only a single one of those I met here still survives. The rest are mostly well-nigh forgotten by all but a few friends, or remembered chiefly in their children and grandchildren.

"How much?" I said to the garçon in his native tongue, or what I supposed to be that language. "Cinq sous," was his answer. By the laws of sentiment, I ought to have made the ignoble sum five francs, at least. But if I had done so, the waiter would undoubtedly have thought that I had just come from Charenton. Besides, why should I violate the simple habits and traditions of the place, where generation after generation of poor students and threadbare Bohemians had taken their morning coffee and pocketed their two lumps of sugar? It was with a feeling of virile sanity and Roman self-conquest that I paid my five sous, with the small additional fraction which I supposed the waiter to expect, and no more.

So I passed for the last time over the threshold of the Café Procope, where Voltaire had matured his plays and Piron sharpened his epigrams; where Jouffroy had battled with his doubts and fears; where, since their time,--since my days of Parisian life,--the terrible storming youth, afterwards renowned as Léon Michel Gambetta, had startled the quiet guests with his noisy eloquence, till the old habitués spilled their coffee, and the red-capped students said to each other, "Il ira loin, ce gaillard-là!"

But what to me were these shadowy figures by the side of the group of my early friends and companions, that came up before me in all the freshness of their young manhood? The memory of them recalls my own youthful days, and I need not go to Florida to bathe in the fountain of Ponce de Leon.

I have sometimes thought that I love so well the accidents of this temporary terrestrial residence, its endeared localities, its precious affections, its pleasing variety of occupation, its alternations of excited and gratified curiosity, and whatever else comes nearest to the longings of the natural man, that I might be wickedly homesick in a far-off spiritual realm where such toys are done with. But there is a pretty lesson which I have often meditated, taught, not this time by the lilies of the field, but by the fruits of the garden. When, in the June honeymoon of the seasons, the strawberry shows itself among the bridal gifts, many of us exclaim for the hundredth time with Dr. Boteler, "Doubtless God could have made a better berry, but doubtless God never did." Nature, who is God's handmaid, does not attempt a rival berry. But by and by a little woolly knob, which looked and saw with wonder the strawberry reddening, and perceived the fragrance it diffused all around, begins to fill out, and grow soft and pulpy and sweet; and at last a glow comes to its cheek, and we say the peach is ripening. When Nature has done with it, and delivers it to us in its perfection, we forget all the lesser fruits which have gone before it. If the flavor of the peach and the fragrance of the rose are not found in some fruit and flower which grow by the side of the river of life, an earth-born spirit might be forgiven for missing them. The strawberry and the pink are very delightful, but we could be happy without them.

So, too, we may hope that when the fruits of our brief early season of three or four score years have given us all they can impart for our happiness; when "the love of little maids and berries," and all other earthly prettinesses, shall "soar and sing," as Mr. Emerson sweetly reminds us that they all must, we may hope that the abiding felicities of our later life-season may far more than compensate us for all that have taken their flight.

I looked forward with the greatest interest to revisiting the Gallery of the Louvre, accompanied by my long-treasured recollections. I retained a vivid remembrance of many pictures, which had been kept bright by seeing great numbers of reproductions of them in photographs and engravings.

The first thing which struck me was that the pictures had been rearranged in such a way that I could find nothing in the place where I looked for it. But when I found them, they greeted me, so I fancied, like old acquaintances. The meek-looking "Belle Jardinière" was as lamb-like as ever; the pearly nymph of Correggio invited the stranger's eye as frankly as of old; Titian's young man with the glove was the calm, self-contained gentleman I used to admire; the splashy Rubenses, the pallid Guidos, the sunlit Claudes, the shadowy Poussins, the moonlit Girardets, Géricault's terrible shipwreck of the Medusa, the exquisite home pictures of Gerard Douw and Terburg,--all these and many more have always been on exhibition in my ideal gallery, and I only mention them as the first that happen to suggest themselves. The Museum of the Hôtel Cluny is a curious receptacle of antiquities, many of which I looked at with interest; but they made no lasting impression, and have gone into the lumber-room of memory, from which accident may, from time to time, drag out some few of them.

After the poor unsatisfactory towers of Westminster Abbey, the two massive, noble, truly majestic towers of Notre Dame strike the traveller as a crushing contrast. It is not hard to see that one of these grand towers is somewhat larger than the other, but the difference does not interfere with the effect of the imposing front of the cathedral.

I was much pleased to find that I could have entrance to the Sainte Chapelle, which was used, at the time of my earlier visit, as a storehouse of judicial archives, of which there was a vast accumulation.

With the exception of my call at the office of the American Legation, I made but a single visit to any person in Paris. That person was M. Pasteur. I might have carried a letter to him, for my friend Mrs. Priestley is well acquainted with him, but I had not thought of asking for one. So I presented myself at his headquarters, and was admitted into a courtyard, where a multitude of his patients were gathered. They were of various ages and of many different nationalities, every one of them with the vague terror hanging over him or her. Yet the young people seemed to be cheerful enough, and very much like scholars out of school. I sent my card in to M. Pasteur, who was busily engaged in writing, with his clerks or students about him, and presently he came out and greeted me. I told him I was an American physician, who wished to look in his face and take his hand,--nothing more. I looked in his face, which was that of a thoughtful, hard-worked student, a little past the grand climacteric,--he was born in 1822. I took his hand, which has performed some of the most delicate and daring experiments ever ventured upon, with results of almost incalculable benefit to human industries, and the promise of triumph in the treatment of human disease which prophecy would not have dared to anticipate. I will not say that I have a full belief that hydrophobia--in some respects the most terrible of all diseases--is to be extirpated or rendered tractable by his method of treatment. But of his inventive originality, his unconquerable perseverance, his devotion to the good of mankind, there can be no question. I look upon him as one of the greatest experimenters that ever lived, one of the truest benefactors of his race; and if I made my due obeisance before princes, I felt far more humble in the presence of this great explorer, to whom the God of Nature has entrusted some of her most precious secrets.

There used to be--I can hardly think it still exists--a class of persons who prided themselves on their disbelief in the reality of any such distinct disease as hydrophobia. I never thought it worth while to argue with them, for I have noticed that this disbelief is only a special manifestation of a particular habit of mind. Its advocates will be found, I think, most frequently among "the long-haired men and the short-haired women." Many of them dispute the efficacy of vaccination. Some are disciples of Hahnemann, some have full faith in the mind-cure, some attend the séances where flowers (bought from the nearest florist) are materialized, and some invest their money in Mrs. Howe's Bank of Benevolence. Their tendency is to reject the truth which is generally accepted, and to accept the improbable; if the impossible offers itself, they deny the existence of the impossible. Argument with this class of minds is a lever without a fulcrum.

I was glad to leave that company of--patients, still uncertain of their fate,--hoping, yet pursued by their terror: peasants bitten by mad wolves in Siberia; women snapped at by their sulking lap-dogs in London; children from over the water who had been turned upon by the irritable Skye terrier; innocent victims torn by ill-conditioned curs at the doors of the friends they were meaning to visit,--all haunted by the same ghastly fear, all starting from sleep in the same nightmare.

If canine rabies is a fearful subject to contemplate, there is a sadder and deeper significance in rabies humana; in that awful madness of the human race which is marked by a thirst for blood and a rage for destruction. The remembrance of such a distemper which has attacked mankind, especially mankind of the Parisian sub-species, came over me very strongly when I first revisited the Place Vendôme. I should have supposed that the last object upon which Parisians would, in their wildest frenzy, have laid violent hands would have been the column with the figure of Napoleon at its summit. We all know what happened in 1871. An artist, we should have thought, would be the last person to lead the iconoclasts in such an outrage. But M. Courbet has attained an immortality like that of Erostratus by the part he took in pulling down the column. It was restored in 1874. I do not question that the work of restoration was well done, but my eyes insisted on finding a fault in some of its lines which was probably in their own refracting media. Fifty years before an artist helped to overthrow the monument to the Emperor, a poet had apostrophized him in the bitterest satire since the days of Juvenal:--

"Encor Napoléon! encor sa grande image! Ah! que ce rude et dur guerrier Nous a couté de sang et de pleurs et d'outrage Pour quelques rameaux de laurier!

"Eh bien! dans tous ces jours d'abaissement, de peine, Pour tous ces outrages sans nom, Je n'ai jamais chargé qu'un être de ma haine,... Sois maudit, O Napoléon!"

After looking at the column of the Place Vendôme and recalling these lines of Barbier, I was ready for a visit to the tomb of Napoleon. The poet's curse had helped me to explain the painter's frenzy against the bronze record of his achievements and the image at its summit. But I forgot them both as I stood under the dome of the Invalides, and looked upon the massive receptacle which holds the dust of the imperial exile. Two things, at least, Napoleon accomplished: he opened the way for ability of all kinds, and he dealt the death-blow to the divine right of kings and all the abuses which clung to that superstition. If I brought nothing else away from my visit to his mausoleum, I left it impressed with what a man can be when fully equipped by nature, and placed in circumstances where his forces can have full play. "How infinite in faculty! ... in apprehension how like a god!" Such were my reflections; very much, I suppose, like those of the average visitor, and too obviously having nothing to require contradiction or comment.

Paris as seen by the morning sun of three or four and twenty and Paris in the twilight of the superfluous decade cannot be expected to look exactly alike. I well remember my first breakfast at a Parisian café in the spring of 1833. It was in the Place de la Bourse, on a beautiful sunshiny morning. The coffee was nectar, the flute was ambrosia, the brioche was more than good enough for the Olympians. Such an experience could not repeat itself fifty years later. The first restaurant at which we dined was in the Palais Royal. The place was hot enough to cook an egg. Nothing was very excellent nor very bad; the wine was not so good as they gave us at our hotel in London; the enchanter had not waved his wand over our repast, as he did over my earlier one in the Place de la Bourse, and I had not the slightest desire to pay the garçon thrice his fee on the score of cherished associations.

We dined at our hotel on some days, at different restaurants on others. One day we dined, and dined well, at the old Café Anglais, famous in my earlier times for its turbot. Another day we took our dinner at a very celebrated restaurant on the boulevard. One sauce which was served us was a gastronomic symphony, the harmonies of which were new to me and pleasing. But I remember little else of superior excellence. The garçon pocketed the franc I gave him with the air of having expected a napoleon.

Into the mysteries of a lady's shopping in Paris I would not venture to inquire. But A---- and I strolled together through the Palais Royal in the evening, and amused ourselves by staring at the glittering windows without being severely tempted. Bond Street had exhausted our susceptibility to the shop-window seduction, and the napoleons did not burn in the pockets where the sovereigns had had time to cool.

Nothing looked more nearly the same as of old than the bridges. The Pont Neuf did not seem to me altered, though we had read in the papers that it was in ruins or seriously injured in consequence of a great flood. The statues had been removed from the Pont Royal, one or two new bridges had been built, but all was natural enough, and I was tempted to look for the old woman, at the end of the Pont des Arts, who used to sell me a bunch of violets, for two or three sous,--such as would cost me a quarter of a dollar in Boston. I did not see the three objects which a popular saying alleges are always to be met on the Pont Neuf: a priest, a soldier, and a white horse.

The weather was hot; we were tired, and did not care to go to the theatres, if any of them were open. The pleasantest hours were those of our afternoon drive in the Champs Elysées and the Bois de Boulogne,--or "the Boulogne Woods," as our American tailor's wife of the old time called the favorite place for driving. In passing the Place de la Concorde, two objects in especial attracted my attention,--the obelisk, which was lying, when I left it, in the great boat which brought it from the Nile, and the statue of Strasbourg, all covered with wreaths and flags. How like children these Parisians do act; crying "À Berlin, à Berlin!" and when Berlin comes to Paris, and Strasbourg goes back to her old proprietors, instead of taking it quietly, making all this parade of patriotic symbols, the display of which belongs to victory rather than to defeat!

I was surprised to find the trees in the Bois de Boulogne so well grown: I had an idea that they had been largely sacrificed in the time of the siege. Among the objects which deserve special mention are the shrieking parrots and other birds and the yelping dogs in the grounds of the Society of Acclimatization,--out of the range of which the visitor will be glad to get as soon as possible. A fountain visited by newly married couples and their friends, with a restaurant near by, where the bridal party drink the health of the newly married pair, was an object of curiosity. An unsteadiness of gait was obvious in some of the feasters. At one point in the middle of the road a maenad was flinging her arms about and shrieking as if she were just escaped from a madhouse. But the drive in the Bois was what made Paris tolerable. There were few fine equipages, and few distinguished-looking people in the carriages, but there were quiet groups by the wayside, seeming happy enough; and now and then a pretty face or a wonderful bonnet gave variety to the somewhat bourgeois character of the procession of fiacres.

I suppose I ought to form no opinion at all about the aspect of Paris, any more than I should of an oyster in a month without an r in it. We were neither of us in the best mood for sight-seeing, and Paris was not sitting up for company; in fact, she was "not at home." Remembering all this, I must say that the whole appearance of the city was dull and dreary. London out of season seemed still full of life; Paris out of season looked vacuous and torpid. The recollection of the sorrow, the humiliation, the shame, and the agony she had passed through since I left her picking her way on the arm of the Citizen King, with his old riflard over her, rose before me sadly, ominously, as I looked upon the high board fence which surrounded the ruins of the Tuileries. I can understand the impulse which led the red caps to make a wreck of this grand old historical building. "Pull down the nest," they said, "and the birds will not come back." But I shudder when I think what "the red fool-fury of the Seine" has done and is believed capable of doing. I think nothing has so profoundly impressed me as the story of the precautions taken to preserve the Venus of Milo from the brutal hands of the mob. A little more violent access of fury, a little more fiery declamation, a few more bottles of vin bleu, and the Gallery of the Louvre, with all its treasures of art, compared with which the crown jewels just sold are but pretty pebbles, the market price of which fairly enough expresses their value,--much more, rather, than their true value,--that noble gallery, with all its masterpieces from the hands of Greek sculptors and Italian painters, would have been changed in a single night into a heap of blackened stones and a pile of smoking cinders.

I love to think that now that the people have, or at least think they have, the power in their own hands, they will outgrow this form of madness, which is almost entitled to the name of a Parisian endemic. Everything looked peaceable and stupid enough during the week I passed in Paris. But among all the fossils which Cuvier found in the Parisian basin, nothing was more monstrous than the poissardes of the old Revolution, or the pétroleuses of the recent Commune, and I fear that the breed is not extinct. An American comes to like Paris as warmly as he comes to love England, after living in it long enough to become accustomed to its ways, and I, like the rest of my countrymen who remember that France was our friend in the hour of need, who remember all the privileges and enjoyments she has freely offered us, who feel that as a sister republic her destinies are of the deepest interest to us, can have no other wish than for her continued safety, order, and prosperity.

We returned to London on the 13th of August by the same route we had followed in going from London to Paris. Our passage was rough, as compared to the former one, and some of the passengers were seasick. We were both fortunate enough to escape that trial of comfort and self-respect.

I can hardly separate the story of the following week from that of the one before we went to Paris. We did a little more shopping and saw a few more sights. I hope that no reader of mine would suppose that I would leave London without seeing Madame Tussaud's exhibition. Our afternoon drives made us familiar with many objects which I always looked upon with pleasure. There was the obelisk, brought from Egypt at the expense of a distinguished and successful medical practitioner, Sir Erasmus Wilson, the eminent dermatologist and author of a manual of anatomy which for many years was my favorite text-book. There was "The Monument," which characterizes itself by having no prefix to its generic name. I enjoyed looking at and driving round it, and thinking over Pepys's lively account of the Great Fire, and speculating as to where Pudding Lane and Pie Corner stood, and recalling Pope's lines which I used to read at school, wondering what was the meaning of the second one:--

"Where London's column, pointing to the skies Like a tall bully, lifts its head and lies."

The week passed away rapidly enough, and we made ready for our departure. It was no easy matter to get a passage home, but we had at last settled it that we would return in the same vessel in which we had at first engaged our passage to Liverpool, the Catalonia. But we were fortunate enough to have found an active and efficient friend in our townsman, Mr. Montgomery Sears, who procured staterooms for us in a much swifter vessel, to sail on the 21st for New York, the Aurania.

Our last visitor in London was the faithful friend who had been the first to welcome us, Lady Harcourt, in whose kind attentions I felt the warmth of my old friendship with her admired and honored father and her greatly beloved mother. I had recently visited their place of rest in the Kensal Green Cemetery, recalling with tenderest emotions the many years in which I had enjoyed their companionship.

On the 19th of August we left London for Liverpool, and on our arrival took lodgings at the Adelphi Hotel.

The kindness with which I had been welcomed, when I first arrived at Liverpool, had left a deep impression upon my mind. It seemed very ungrateful to leave that noble city, which had met me in some of its most esteemed representatives with a warm grasp of the hand even before my foot had touched English soil, without staying to thank my new friends, who would have it that they were old friends. But I was entirely unfit for enjoying any company when I landed. I took care, therefore, to allow sufficient time in Liverpool, before sailing for home, to meet such friends, old and recent, as cared to make or renew acquaintance with me. In the afternoon of the 20th we held a reception, at which a hundred visitors, more or less, presented themselves, and we had a very sociable hour or two together. The Vice-Consul, Mr. Sewall, in the enforced absence of his principal, Mr. Russell, paid us every attention, and was very agreeable. In the evening I was entertained at a great banquet given by the Philomathean Society. This flourishing institution enrolls among its members a large proportion of the most cultivated and intelligent gentlemen of Liverpool. I enjoyed the meeting very highly, listened to pleasant things which were said about myself, and answered in the unpremeditated words which came to my lips and were cordially received. I could have wished to see more of Liverpool, but I found time only to visit the great exhibition, then open. The one class of objects which captivated my attention was the magnificent series of models of steamboats and other vessels. I did not look upon them with the eye of an expert, but the great number and variety of these beautiful miniature ships and boats excited my admiration.

On the 21st of August we went on board the Aurania. Everything was done to make us comfortable. Many old acquaintances, friends, and family connections were our fellow-passengers. As for myself, I passed through the same trying experiences as those which I have recorded as characterizing my outward passage. Our greatest trouble during the passage was from fog. The frequency of collisions, of late years, tends to make everybody nervous when they hear the fog-whistle shrieking. This sound and the sight of the boats are not good for timid people. Fortunately, no one was particularly excitable, or if so, no one betrayed any special uneasiness.

On the evening of the 27th we had an entertainment, in which Miss Kellogg sang and I read several poems. A very pretty sum was realized for some charity,--I forget what,--and the affair was voted highly successful. The next day, the 28th, we were creeping towards our harbor through one of those dense fogs which are more dangerous than the old rocks of the sirens, or Scylla and Charybdis, or the much-lied-about maelstrom.

On Sunday, the 29th of August, my birthday, we arrived in New York. In these days of birthday-books our chronology is not a matter of secret history, in case we have been much before the public. I found a great cake had been made ready for me, in which the number of my summers was represented by a ring of raisins which made me feel like Methuselah. A beautiful bouquet which had been miraculously preserved for the occasion was for the first time displayed. It came from Dr. Beach, of Boston, via London. Such is the story, and I can only suppose that the sweet little cherub who sits up aloft had taken special charge of it, or it would have long ago withered.

We slept at the Fifth Avenue Hotel, which we found fresh, sweet, bright,--it must have been recently rejuvenated, I thought. The next day we took the train for New Haven, Springfield, and Boston, and that night slept in our own beds, thankful to find ourselves safe at home after our summer excursion, which had brought us so many experiences delightful to remember, so many friendships which have made life better worth living.

In the following section I shall give some of the general impressions which this excursion has left in my memory, and a few suggestions derived from them.


Oliver Wendell Holmes

Sorry, no summary available yet.