Our Hundred Days in Europe


THE remembrance of home, with its early and precious and long-enduring friendships, has intruded itself among my recollections of what I saw and heard, of what I felt and thought, in the distant land I was visiting. I must return to the scene where I found myself when the suggestion of the broken circle ran away with my imagination.

The literature of Stonehenge is extensive, and illustrates the weakness of archæologists almost as well as the " Prætorium ” of Scott’s " Antiquary.” “ In 1823,” says a local handbook, “ H. Browne, of Amesbury, published ‘ An Illustration of Stonehenge and Abury,’ in which he endeavored to show that both of these monuments were antediluvian, and that the latter was formed under the direction of Adam. He ascribes the present, dilapidated condition of Stonehenge to the operation of the general deluge ; for, he adds, " to suppose it to be the work of any people since the flood is entirely monstrous.’ ”

We know well enough how great stones — pillars and obelisks — are brought into place by means of our modern appliances. But if the great blocks were raised by a mob of naked Picts, or any tribe that knew none of the mechanical powers but the lever, how did they set them up and lay the cross-stones, the imposts, upon the uprights ? It is pleasant, once in a while, to think how we should have managed any such matters as this if left to our natural resources. We are all interested in the make-shifts of Robinson Crusoe. Now the rudest tribes make cords of some kind, and the earliest, or almost the earliest, of artificial structures is an earth-mound. If a hundred, or hundreds, of men could drag the huge stones many leagues, as they must have done to bring them to their destined place, they could have drawn each of them up a long slanting mound ending in a sharp declivity, with a hole for the foot of the stone at its base. If the stone were now tipped over, it would slide into its place, and could be easily raised from its slanting position to the perpendicular. Then filling in the space between the mound and two contiguous stones, the impost could be dragged up to its position. I found a pleasure in working at this simple mechanical problem, as a change from the more imaginative thoughts suggested by the mysterious monuments.

One incident of our excursion to Stonehenge had a significance for me which renders it memorable in my personal experience. As we drove over the barren plain, one of the party suddenly exclaimed, “ Look ! Look! See the lark rising! ” I looked up with the rest. There was the bright blue sky, but not a speck upon it which my eyes could distinguish. Again, one called out, “ Hark ! Hark ! Hear him singing ! ” I listened, but not a sound reached my ear. Was it strange that I felt a momentary pang? Those that look out at the windows are darkened, and all the daughters of music are brought low. Was I never to see or hear the soaring songster at Heaven’s gate, — unless, — unless — if our mild humanized theology promises truly, I may perhaps hereafter listen to him singing far down beneath me ? For in whatever world I may find myself, I hope I shall always love our poor little spheroid, so long my home, which some kind angel may point out to me as a gilded globule swimming in the sunlight far away. After walking the streets of pure gold in the new Jerusalem, might one not like a short vacation, to visit the well-remembered green fields and flowery meadows ? I had a very sweet emotion of self-pity, which took the sting out of my painful discovery that the orchestra of my pleasing life-entertainment was unstringing its instruments, and its lights were being extinguished, — that the show was almost over. All this I kept to myself, of course, except so far as I whispered it to the unseen presence which we all feel is in sympathy with us, and which, as it seemed to my fancy, was looking into my eyes, and through them into my soul, with the tender, tearful smile of a mother who for the first time gently presses back the longing lips of her as yet unweaned infant.

On our way back from Stonehenge we stopped and took a cup of tea with a friend of our host, Mr. Nightingale. His house, a bachelor establishment, was very attractive to us by the beauty within and around it. His collection of “ china,” as Pope and old-fashioned people call all sorts of earthenware, excited the enthusiasm of our host, whose admiration of some rare pieces in the collection was so great that it would have run into envy in a less generous nature.

It is very delightful to find one’s self in one of these English country residences. The house is commonly old, and has a history. It is oftentimes itself a record, like that old farmhouse my friend John Bellows wrote to me about, which chronicled half a dozen reigns by various architectural marks as exactly as if it had been an official register. " The stately homes of England,” as we see them at Wilton and Longford Castle, are not more admirable in their splendors than “ the blessed homes of England ” in their modest beauty. Everywhere one may see here old parsonages by the side of ivy-mantled churches, and the comfortable mansions where generations of country squires have lived in peace, while their sons have gone forth to fight England’s battles, and carry her flags of war and commerce all over the world. We in America can hardly be said to have such a possession as a family home. We encamp, — not under canvas, but in fabrics of wood or more lasting materials, which are pulled down after a brief occupancy by the builders, and possibly their children, or are modernized so that the former dwellers in them would never recognize their old habitations.

In my various excursions from Salisbury I was followed everywhere by the all-pervading presence of the towering spire. Just what it was in that earlier visit, when my eyes were undimmed and my sensibilities unworn, just such I found it now. As one drives away from the town, the roofs of the houses drop out of the landscape, the lesser spires disappear one by one, until the great shaft is left standing alone, — solitary as the broken statue of Ozymandias in the desert, as the mast of some mighty ship above the waves which have rolled over the foundering vessel. Most persons will, I think, own to a feeling of awe in looking up at it. Few can look down from a great height without creepings and crispations, if they do not get as far as vertigos and that aerial calenture which prompts them to jump from the pinnacle on which they are standing. It does not take much imagination to make one experience something of the same feeling in looking up at a very tall steeple or chimney. To one whose eyes are used to Park Street and the Old South steeples as standards of height, a spire which climbs four hundred feet towards the sky is a new sensation. Whether I am more “afraid of that which is high ” than I was at my first visit, as I should be on the authority of Ecclesiastes, I cannot say, but it was quite enough for me to let my eyes climb the spire, and I had no desire whatever to stand upon that “ bad eminence,” as I am sure that I should have found it.

I soon noticed a slight deflection from the perpendicular at the upper part of the spire. This has long been observed. I could not say that I saw it quivering in the wind, as I felt that of Strasburg doing when I ascended it, — swaying like a blade of grass when a breath of air passes over it. But it has been, for at least two hundred years, nearly two feet out of the perpendicular. No increase in the deviation was found to exist when examined early in the present century. It is a wonder that this slightlooking structure can have survived the blasts, and thunderbolts, and earthquakes, and the weakening effects of time on its stones and timbers for five hundred years. Since the spire of Chichester Cathedral fell in 1861, sheathing itself in its tower like a sword dropping into its scabbard, one can hardly help looking with apprehension at all these towering fabrics. I have before referred to the fall of the spire of Tewkesbury Abbey church, three centuries earlier. There has been a good deal of fear for the Salisbury spire, and great precautions have been taken to keep it firm, so that we may hope it will stand for another five hundred years. It ought to be a “ joy forever,” for it is a thing of beauty, if ever there were one.

I never felt inclined to play the part of the young enthusiast in “ Excelsior,” as I looked up at the weathercock which surmounts the spire. But the man who oils the weathercock-spindle has to get up to it in some way, and that way is by ladders which reach to within thirty feet of the top, where there is a small door, through which he emerges, to crawl up the remaining distance on the outside. “ The situation and appearance,” says one of the guide-books, “ must be terrific, yet many persons have voluntarily and daringly clambered to the top, even in a state of intoxication.” Such, I feel sure, was not the state of my most valued and exemplary clerical friend, who, with a cool head and steady nerves, found himself standing in safety at the top of the spire, with his hand upon the vane, which nothing terrestrial had ever looked down upon in its lofty position, except a bird, a bat, a sky-rocket, or a balloon.

In saying that the exterior of Salisbury Cathedral is more interesting than its interior, I was perhaps unfair to the latter, which only yields to the surpassing claims of the wonderful structure as seen from the outside. One may get a little tired of marble Crusaders, with their crossed legs and broken noses, especially if, as one sometimes finds them, they are covered with the penciled autographs of cockney scribblers. But there are monuments in this cathedral which excite curiosity, and others which awaken the most striking associations. There is the “ Boy Bishop,” his marble effigy protected from vandalism by an iron cage. There is the skeleton figure representing Fox (who should have been called Goose), the poor creature who starved himself to death in trying to imitate the fast of forty days in the wilderness. Since this performance has been taken out of the list of miracles, it is not so likely to be repeated by fanatics. I confess to a strong suspicion that this is one of the ambulatory or movable stories, like the “ hangman’s stone ” legend, which I have found in so many different parts of England. Skulls and crossbones, sometimes skeletons or skeleton-like figures, are not uncommon among the sepulchral embellishments of an earlier period. Where one of these figures is found, the forty-day-fast story is like to grow out of it, as the mistletoe springs from the oak or apple tree.

With far different emotions we look upon the spot where lie buried many of the Herbert family, among the rest,

“ Sidney’s sister, Pembroke’s mother,”

for whom Ben Jonson wrote the celebrated epitaph. I am almost afraid to say it, but I never could admire the line,

“ Lies the subject of all verse,”

nor the idea of Time dropping his hourglass and scythe to throw a dart at the fleshless figure of Death. This last image seems to me about the equivalent in mortuary poetry of Roubiliac’s monument to Mrs. Nightingale in mortuary sculpture, — poor conceits both of them, without the suggestion of a tear in the verses or in the marble ; but the rhetorical exaggeration does not prevent us from feeling that we are standing by the resting-place of one who was

“ learn’d and fair and good ”

enough to stir the soul of stalwart Ben Jonson, and the names of Sidney and Herbert make us forget the strange hyperboles.

History meets us everywhere, as we stray among these ancient monuments. Under that effigy lie the great bones of Sir John Cheyne, a mighty man of war, said to have been “ overthrown ” by Richard the Third at the battle of Bosworth Field. What was left of him was unearthed in 1789 in the demolition of the Beauchamp chapel, and his thighbone was found to be four inches longer than that of a man of common stature.

The reader may remember how my recollections started from their hidingplace when I came, in one of our excursions, upon the name of Lechmere, as belonging to the owner of a fine estate by or through which we were driving. I had a similar twinge of reminiscence at meeting with the name of Gorges, which is perpetuated by a stately monument at the end of the north aisle of the cathedral. Sir Thomas Gorges, Knight of Longford Castle, may or may not have been of the same family as the well-remembered grandiose personage of the New England Pilgrim period. The title he bore had a far more magnificent sound than those of his contemporaries, Governor Carver and Elder Brewster. No title ever borne among us has filled the mouth quite so full as that of “ Sir Ferdinando Gorges, Lord Palatine of the Province of Maine,” a province with " Gorgeana ” (late the plantation of Agamenticus) as its capital. Everywhere in England a New Englander is constantly meeting with names of families and places which remind him that he comes of a graft from an old tree on a new stock. I could not keep down the associations called up by the name of Gorges. There is a certain pleasure in now and then sprinkling our prosaic colonial history with the holy water of a high-sounding title ; not that a “ Sir ” before a man’s name makes him any better, — for are we not all equal, and more than equal, to each other ? — but it sounds pleasantly. Sir Harry Vane and Sir Harry Frankland look prettily on the printed page, as the illuminated capital at the head of a chapter in an old folio pleases the eye of the reader. Sir Thomas Gorges was the builder of Longford Castle, now the seat of the Earl of Radnor, whose family name is Bouverie. Whether our Sir Ferdinando was of the Longford Castle stock or not I must leave to my associates of the Massachusetts Historical Society to determine.

We lived very quietly at our temporary home in Salisbury Close. A pleasant dinner with the Dean, a stroll through the grounds of the episcopal palace, with that perpetual feast of the eyes which the cathedral offered us, made our residence delightful at the time, and keeps it so in remembrance. Besides the cathedral there were the very lovely cloisters, the noble chapter-house with its central pillar, — this structure has been rejuvenated and restored since my earlier visit, — and there were the peaceful dwellings, where I insist on believing that only virtue and happiness are ever tenants. Even outside the sacred enclosure there is a great deal to enjoy, in the ancient town of Salisbury. One may rest under the Poultry Cross, where twenty or thirty generations have rested before him. One may purchase his china at the well - furnished establishment of the tenant of a spacious apartment of ancient date, — “ the Halle of John Halle.” a noble private edifice built in the year 1470, restored and beautified in 1834 ; the emblazonment of the Royal Arms having been executed by the celebrated architectural artist Pugin. The old houses are numerous, and some of them eminently picturesque.

Salisbury was formerly very unhealthy, on account of the low, swampy nature of its grounds. The Sanitary Reform, dating from about thirty years ago, had a great effect on the condition of the place. Before the drainage the annual mortality was twenty-seven in the thousand; since the drainage twenty in the thousand, which is below that of Boston. In the Close, which is a little Garden of Eden, with no serpent in it that I could hear of, the deaths were only fourteen in a thousand. Happy little enclosure, where thieves cannot break through and steal, where Death himself hesitates to enter, and makes a visit only now and then at long intervals, lest the fortunate inhabitants should think they had already reached the Celestial City !

It must have been a pretty bitter quarrel that drove the tenants of the airy height of Old Sarum to remove to the marshy level of the present site of the cathedral and the town. I wish we could have given more time to the ancient fortress and cathedral town. This is one of the most interesting historic localities of Great Britain. We looked from different points of view at the mounds and trenches which marked it as a strongly fortified position. For many centuries it played an important part in the history of England. At length, however, the jealousies of the laity and the clergy, a squabble like that of “ town and gown,” but with graver underlying causes, broke up the harmony and practically ended the existence of the place except as a monument of the past. It seems a pity that the headquarters of the Prince of Peace could not have managed to maintain tranquillity within its own borders. But so it was ; and the consequence followed that Old Sarum, with all its grand recollections, is but a collection of mounds and hollows, — as much a tomb of its past as Birs Nimroud of that great city, Nineveh. Old Sarum is now best remembered by its long-surviving privilege, as a borough, of sending two members to Parliament. The farcical ceremony of electing two representatives who had no constituency behind them was put an end to by the Reform Act of 1832.

Wilton, the seat of the Earl of Pembroke, within an easy drive’s distance from Salisbury, was the first nobleman’s residence I saw in my early visit. Not a great deal of what I then saw had survived in my memory. I recall the general effect of the stately mansion and its grounds. A picture or two of Vandyke’s had not quite faded out of my recollection. I could not forget the armor of Anne de Montmorenci, — not another Maid of Orleans, but Constable of France, —said to have been taken in battle by an ancestor of the Herberts. It was one of the first things that made me feel I was in the Old World. Miles Standish’s sword was as far back as New England collections of armor carried us at that day. The remarkable gallery of ancient sculptures impressed me at the time, but no one bust or statue survived as a distinct image. Even the beautiful Palladian bridge had not pictured itself on my mental tablet as it should have done, and I could not have taken my oath that I had seen it. But the pretty English maidens whom we met on the day of our visit to Wilton, — daughters or granddaughters of a famous inventor and engineer, — still lingered as vague and pleasing visions, so lovely had they seemed among the daisies and primroses. The primroses and daisies were as fresh in the spring of 1886 as they were in the spring of 1833, but I hardly dared to ask after the blooming maidens of that early period.

One memory predominates over all others, in walking through the halls, or still more in wandering through the grounds, of Wilton House. Here Sir Philip Sidney wrote his Arcadia, and the ever youthful presence of the man himself rather than the recollection of his writings takes possession of us. There are three young men in history whose names always present themselves to me in a special companionship : Pico della Mirandola, “ The Phœnix of the age ” for his contemporaries ; “ The Admirable Crichton,” accepting as true the accounts which have come down to us of his wonderful accomplishments; and Sidney, the Bayard of England, " that glorious star, that lively pattern of virtue and the lovely joy of all the learned sort, . . . born into the world to show unto our age a sample of ancient virtue.” The English paragon of excellence was but thirty-two years old when he was slain at Zutphen, the Italian Phœnix but thirty-one when he was carried off by a fever, and the Scotch prodigy of gifts and attainments was only twenty-two when he was assassinated by his worthless pupil. Sir Philip Sidney is better remembered by the draught of water he gave the dying soldier than by all the waters he ever drew from the fountain of the Muses, considerable as are the merits of his prose and verse. But here, where he came to cool his fiery spirit after the bitter insult he had received from the Earl of Leicester ; here, where he mused and wrote, and shaped his lofty plans for a glorious future, he lives once more in our imagination, as if his spirit haunted the English Arcadia he loved so dearly.

The name of Herbert, which we have met with in the cathedral, and which belongs to the Earls of Pembroke, presents itself to us once more in a very different and very beautiful aspect. Between Salisbury and Wilton, three miles and a half distant, is the little village of Bemerton, where “ holy George Herbert ” lived and died, and where he lies buried. Many Americans who know little else of him recall the lines borrowed from him by Irving in the “ Sketch-Book ” and by Emerson in “ Nature.” The “ SketchBook ” gives the lines thus : —

“ Sweet day, so pure, so calm, so bright,
The bridal of the earth and sky.”

In other versions the fourth word is cool instead of pure, and cool is, I believe, the correct reading. The day when we visited Bemerton was, according to A—’s diary, “perfect.” I was struck with the calm beauty of the scene around us, the fresh greenness of all growing things, and the stillness of the river which mirrored the heavens above it. It must have been this reflection in the water which the poet was thinking of when he spoke of the bridal of the earth and sky. The river is the Wiltshire Avon ; not Shakespeare’s Avon, but the southern stream of the same name, which empties into the British Channel.

So much of George Herbert’s intellectual and moral character show themselves in Emerson that if I believed in metempsychosis I should think that the English saint had reappeared in the American philosopher. Their features have a certain resemblance, but the type, though an exceptional and fine one, is not so very rare. I found a portrait in the National Gallery which was a good specimen of it; the bust of a near friend, more intimate with him than almost any other person, is often taken for that of Emerson. I see something of it in the portrait of Sir Philip Sidney, and I doubt not that traces of the same mental resemblance ran through the whole group, with individual characteristics which were in some respects quite different. I will take a single verse of Herbert’s from Emerson’s “ Nature,” — one of the five which he quotes : —

“ Nothing hath got so far
But man hath caught and kept it as his prey ;
His eyes dismount the highest star :
He is in little all the sphere.
Herbs gladly cure our flesh because that they
Find their acquaintance there.”

Emerson himself fully recognizes his obligations to “ the beautiful psalmist of the seventeenth century,” as he calls George Herbert. There are many passages in his writings which sound as if they were paraphrases from the elder poet. From him it is that Emerson gets a word he is fond of, and of which his imitators are too fond : —

“ Who sweeps a room as for thy laws
Makes that and the action fine.”

The little chapel in which Herbert officiated is perhaps half as long again as the room in which I am writing, but it is four or five feet narrower, — and I do not live in a palace. Here this humble servant of God preached and prayed, and here by his faithful and loving service he so endeared himself to all around him that he has been canonized by an epithet no other saint of the English Church has had bestowed upon him. His life as pictured by Izaak Walton is, to borrow one of his own lines,

“ A box where sweets compacted lie ; ”

and I felt, as I left his little chapel and the parsonage which he rebuilt as a freewill offering, as a pilgrim might feel who had just left the holy places at Jerusalem.

Among the places which I saw in my first visit, was Longford Castle, the seat of the Earl of Radnor. I remembered the curious triangular building, constructed with reference to the doctrine of the Trinity, as churches are built in the form of the cross. I remembered bow the omnipresent spire of the great cathedral, three miles away, looked down upon the grounds about the building as if it had been their next-door neighbor. I had not forgotten the two celebrated Claudes, Morning and Evening. My eyes were drawn to the first of these two pictures when I was here before ; now they turned naturally to the landscape with the setting sun. I have read my St. Ruskin with due reverence, but I have never given up my allegiance to Claude Lorraine. But of all the fine paintings at Longford Castle, no one so much impressed me at my recent visit as the portrait of Erasmus by Hans Holbein. This is one of those pictures which help to make the Old World worth a voyage across the Atlantic. Portraits of Erasmus are not uncommon; every scholar would know him if he met him in the other world, with the look he wore on earth. All the etchings and their copies give a characteristic presentation of the spiritual precursor of Luther, who pricked the false image with his rapier which the sturdy monk slashed with his broadsword. What a face it is which Hans Holbein has handed down to us in this wonderful portrait at Longford Castle ! How dry it is with scholastic labor, how keen with shrewd skepticism, how worldly-wise, how conscious of its owner’s wide-awake sagacity! Erasmus and Rabelais, — Nature used up all her arrows for their quivers, and had to wait a hundred years and more before she could find shafts enough for the outfit of Voltaire, leaner and keener than Erasmus, and almost as free in his language as the audacious creator of Gargantua and Pantagruel.

I have not generally given descriptions of the curious objects which I saw in the great houses and museums which I visited. There is, however, a work of art at Longford Castle so remarkable that I must speak of it. I was so much struck by the enormous amount of skilful ingenuity and exquisite workmanship bestowed upon it that I looked up its history, which I found in the “ Beauties of England and Wales.” This is what is there said of the wonderful steel chair : “ It was made by Thomas Rukers at the city of Augsburgh, in the year 1575, and consists of more than 130 compartments, all occupied by groups of figures representing a succession of events in the annals of the Roman Empire, from the landing of Æneas to the reign of Rodolphus the Second.” It looks as if a life had gone into the making of it, as a pair or two of eyes go to the working of the bridal veil of an empress.

Fifty years ago and more, when I was at Longford Castle with my two companions, who are no more with us, we found there a pleasant, motherly old housekeeper, or attendant of some kind, who gave us a draught of home-made ale and left a cheerful remembrance with us, as, I need hardly say, we did with her, in a materialized expression of our good-will. It always rubbed very hard on my feelings to offer money to any persons who had served me well, as if they were doing it for their own pleasure. It may have been the granddaughter of the kindly old matron of the year 1833 who showed us round, and possibly, if I had sunk a shaft of inquiry, I might have struck a well of sentiment. But

“ Take, O boatman, thrice thy fee,”

carried into practical life, is certain in its financial result to the subject of the emotional impulse, but is less sure to call forth a tender feeling in the recipient. One will hardly find it worth while to go through the world weeping over his old recollections, and paying gold instead of silver and silver instead of copper to astonished boatmen and bewildered chambermaids.

On Sunday, the 18th of July, we attended morning service at the cathedral. The congregation was not proportioned to the size of the great edifice. These vast places of worship were built for ages when faith was the rule and questioning the exception. I will not say that faith has grown cold, but it has cooled from white heat to cherry red or a still less flaming color. As to church attendance, I have heard the saying, attributed to a great statesman, that " once a day is Orthodox, but twice a day is Puritan.” No doubt many of the same class of people that used to fill the churches stay at home and read about evolution or telepathy, or whatever new gospel they may have got hold of. Still the English seem to me a religious people ; they have leisure enough to say grace and give thanks before and after meals, and their institutions tend to keep alive the feelings of reverence which cannot be said to be distinctive of our own people.

In coming out of the cathedral, on the Sunday I just mentioned, a gentleman addressed me as a fellow-countryman. There is something, — I will not stop now to try and define it, — but there is something by which we recognize an American among the English before he speaks and betrays his origin. Our new friend proved to be the president of one of our American colleges ; an intelligent and well-instructed gentleman, of course. By the invitation of our host he came in to visit us in the evening, and made himself very welcome by his agreeable conversation.

I took great delight in wandering about the old town of Salisbury. There are no such surprises in our oldest places as one finds in Chester, or Tewkesbury, or Stratford, or Salisbury, and I have no doubt in scores or hundreds of similar places which I have never visited. The best substitute for such rambles as one can take through these mouldy boroughs (or burrows) is to be found in such towns as Salem, Newburyport, Portsmouth. Without imagination, Shakespeare’s birthplace is but a queer old house, and Anne Hathaway’s home a tumble-down cottage. With it, one can see the witches of Salem Village sailing out of those little square windows, which look as if they were made on purpose for them, or stroll down to Derby’s wharf and look upon Cleopatra’s Barge, precursor of the yachts of the Astors and Goulds and Vanderbilts, as she comes swimming into the harbor in all her gilded glory. But it must make a difference what the imagination has to work upon, and I do not at all wonder that Mr. Ruskin would not wish to live in a land where there are no old ruins of castles and monasteries. Man will not live on bread only: he wants a great deal more, if he can get it, — frosted cake as well as corn-bread; and the New World keeps the imagination on plain and scanty diet, compared to the rich traditional and historic food which furnishes the banquets of the Old World.

What memories that week in Salisbury and the excursions from it have left in my mind’s picture gallery ! The spire of the great cathedral had been with me as a frequent presence during the last fifty years of my life, and this second visit has deepened every line of the impression, as Old Mortality refreshed the inscriptions on the tombstones of the Covenanters. I find that all these pictures which I have brought home with me to look at, with

“ that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude,”

are becoming clearer and brighter as the excitement of overcrowded days and weeks gradually calms down. I can be in those places where I passed days and nights, and became habituated to the sight of the Cathedral, or of the Church of the Holy Trinity, at morning, at noon, at evening, whenever I turned my eyes in its direction. I often close my eyelids, and startle my household by saying, “ Now I am in Salisbury,” or “ Now I am in Stratford.” It is a blessed thing to be able, in the twilight of years, to illuminate the soul with such visions. The Charles, which flows beneath my windows, which I look upon between the words of the sentence I am now writing, only turning my head as I sit at my table, — the Charles is hardly more real to me than Shakespeare’s Avon, since I floated on its still waters, or strayed along its banks and saw the cows reflected in the smooth expanse, their legs upward, as if they were walking the skies as the flies walk the ceiling. Salisbury Cathedral stands as substantial in my thought as our own “ King’s Chapel,” since I slumbered by its side, and arose in the morning to find it still there, and not one of those unsubstantial fabrics built by the architect of dreams.

On Thursday, the 22d of July, we left Salisbury for Brighton, where we were to be guests at Arnold House, the residence of our kind host. Here we passed another delightful week, with everything around us to contribute to our quiet comfort and happiness. The most thoughtful of entertainers, a house filled with choice works of art, fine paintings, and wonderful pottery, pleasant walks and drives, a visitor now and then, Mr. and Mrs. Goldwin Smith among the number, rest and peace in a magnificent city built for enjoyment, — what more could we have asked to make our visit memorable ? Many watering-places look forlorn and desolate in the intervals of “ the season.”This was not the time of Brighton’s influx of visitors, but the city was far from dull. The houses are very large, and have the grand air, as if meant for princes ; the shops are well supplied ; the salt breeze comes in fresh and wholesome, and the noble esplanade is lively with promenaders and Bath chairs, some of them occupied by people evidently ill or presumably lame, some, I suspect, employed by healthy invalids who are too lazy to walk. I took one myself, drawn by an old man, to see how I liked it, and found it very convenient, but I was tempted to ask him to change places and let me drag him.

With the aid of the guide-book I could describe the wonders of the Pavilion and the various changes which have come over the great watering-place. The two piers, the noble esplanade, the aquarium, and all the great sights which are shown to strangers deserve full attention from the tourist who writes for other travellers, but none of these things seem to me so interesting as what we saw and heard in a little hamlet which has never, so far as I know, been vulgarized by sight-seers. We drove in an open carriage, — Mr. and Mrs. Willett, A—, and myself, — into the country, which soon became bare, sparsely settled, a long succession of rounded hills and hollows. These are the South Downs, from which comes the famous mutton known all over England, not unknown at the table of our Saturday Club and other well-spread boards. After a drive of ten miles or more we arrived at a little “ settlement,” as we Americans should call it, and drove up to the door of a modest parsonage, where dwells the shepherd of the South Downs flock of Christian worshippers. I hope that the good clergyman, if he ever happens to see what I am writing, will pardon me for making mention of his hidden retreat, which he himself speaks of as " one of the remoter nooks of the old country.” Nothing I saw in England brought to my mind Goldsmith’s picture of “ the man to all the country dear,” and his surroundings, like this visit. The church dates, if I remember right, from the thirteenth century. Some of its stones show marks, as it is thought, of having belonged to a Saxon edifice. The massive leaden font is of a very great antiquity. In the wall of the church is a narrow opening, at which the priest is supposed to have sat and listened to the confession of the sinner on the outside of the building. The dead lie all around the church, under stones bearing the dates of several centuries. One epitaph, which the “ unlettered Muse ” must have dictated, is worth recording. After giving the chief slumberer’s name the epitaph adds, —

“ Here lies on either side, the remains of each of his former wives.”

Those of a third have found a restingplace close by, behind him.

It seemed to me that Mr. Bunner’s young man in search of Arcady might look for it here with as good a chance of being satisfied as anywhere I can think of. But I suppose that men and women, and especially boys, would prove to be a good deal like the rest of the world, if one lived here long enough to learn all about them. One thing I can safely say, — an English man or boy never goes anywhere without his fists. I saw a boy of ten or twelve years, whose pleasant face attracted my attention. I said to the rector, “ That is a fine-looking little fellow, and I should think an intelligent and amiable kind of boy.” “ Yes,” he said, “ yes ; he can strike from the shoulder pretty well, too. I had to stop him, the other day, indulging in that exercise.” Well, I said to myself, we have not yet reached the heaven on earth which I was fancying might be embosomed in this peaceful-looking hollow. Youthful angels can hardly be in the habit of striking from the shoulder. But the well-known phrase, belonging to the pugilist rather than to the priest, brought me back from the ideal world into which my imagination had wandered.

Our week at Brighton was passed in a very quiet but most enjoyable way. It could not be otherwise with such a host and hostess, always arranging everything with reference to our well-being and in accordance with our wishes. I became very fond of the esplanade, such a promenade as I never saw anything to compare with. In these tranquil days and long, honest nights of sleep, the fatigues of what we had been through were forgotten, the scales showed that we were becoming less ethereal every day, and we were ready for another move.

We bade good-by to our hosts with the most grateful and the warmest feeling towards them, after a month of delightful companionship and the experience of a hospitality almost too generous to accept but which they were pleased to look upon as if we were doing them a favor.

On the 29th of July we found ourselves once more in London.

Oliver Wendell Holmes.

  1. Copyright, 1887, by OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES. All rights reserved.