June 17th.I left New York for Lisbon, as U. S. Minister to Portugal, on the 8th of June, and arrived this morning in London, after the usual passage of eight days to Southampton in the Elbe, and three hours’ rail to the metropolis. The sea is the same from one end to the other ; but the land varies with every mile, and indicates the character of the people who inhabit it. Prom Southampton to London we passed through a most charming country, fresh with June vegetation, cultivated to the highest degree a market garden from one city to the other. If this were England, no one could ask for a more joyous land. The endeavor to make the island a garden has not been pursued with enthusiasm, and the fine cultivation and thrifty people and comfortable dwellings of this southern section is the exception and not the rule. It was a charming morning in early summer when we made our journey through England, and were borne into the whirl of London to witness the refreshing bustle and intensity of the town after the idle life of the sea. To debark from our compartment, to shake hands with our friends who had accompanied us across the Atlantic, to reach the hotel and find apartments, was the work of a minute. London was very full of strangers, the Ascot and the coming exhibition at Windsor having crowded it to overflowing. While I rested after my journey, my family went to Westminster Abbey, bound to be introduced to London without delay, and determined to begin with the glory of the town. They returned to our apartments radiant with the spirit of the Abbey, eloquent over its beauty, and conversant with the names of poets and scholars, statesmen, heroes, and kings buried there. There was a service which charmed the Episcopal side of my family, and, altogether, their visit was most successful, while I was left to remember that Canon Kingsley commenced his journey in America with a charming lecture in Salem on Westminster Abbey, that we gave him a banquet at the Essex Institute, and that Dean Stanley introduced himself to an American audience with his admirable speech at the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the landing of John Endicott at Naumkeag.
I shall probably spend a few days here, not with the hope of getting even a bird’s-eye view of London or a glimpse into its society or a taste of its quality. There is too much for a lifetime. And, moreover, I rather long to get away and betake myself to my quiet sphere of duty in Lisbon, where I can take in the situation entirely, and where there is but one attraction, I am told, the lazy luxury of climate and scenery and repose, and what Whittier called so charmingly, ” Old endeavor and achievement, romance and song.”
Amidst all the smoke and filth of the city, I wasstruck with the neatness of the people. Every man who pretended to wear a shirt wore a clean one. Clean boots, clothes, cravats were conspicuous every-where. The servants, with their white collars and neck-cloths and black coatsthe regalia of valetdom in England,the clean table-cloths in the eating-houses, the clean floors and walls, and the clean well-arranged shops, bade defiance to the smoky air and the dingy, cloudy, dripping sky. The well-defined orders of society are impressed upon you every hour. The carriage with its coronet, the hackney-coach, and the street cab all have their place. As a buyer, the seller always treats you with respect ; as an eater at the table of a hotel or restaurant, no jest of yours is recognized, no attention is expected, no acknowledgment is offered by the spruce waiters who stand around you.
The spending of money in London teaches you much about English society. It is worth nothing and it is worth everything. To those who have it, its temptations are powerless ; to those who have it not, the smallest representation of the circulating medium is perfectly satisfactory. With the traders and business men it has very small capacity to express value. You cannot buy anything of high quality at a reasonable rate. You can devour half a sovereign in a twinkling. Gold weighed against bread, necessities, luxury, and pleasure sinks into insignificance. But when it is applied to the other phase of society, its character changes at once. For the relief of a beggar, a penny is omnipotent. You can avail yourself of the popular modes of conveyance for next to nothing. Any article stamped with poverty, or applied to its uses, seems to have no pecuniary value affixed to it. In the common restaurant, beef and beer, enough for a wood-sawyer, cost about fourpencethe same beer and beef, under the Royal Arms, is invaluable. This is all significant It would disgust a peer to wear a jerkin costing a couple of shillings, while he pays five pounds for a jacket no better.
London presents the most extraordinary contrasts. From the bustle of business you can step at once into the most delightful seclusion. Its parks, which you come upon unexpectedly, afford rural retreats to the ear stunned, and the foot wearied, and the eye dazzled with the noise and stony hardness and constantly changing crowd of the streets. The fine roads of these parks afford admirable opportunity for exercise to the English gentlemen and their horses. On the green feed flocks of sheep to give an air of domestic comfort to the scene. The tired citizen breathes their invigorating air, and the luxurious traveller reposes upon the richness of the scenery. The retreats of students and professional men are quiet and appropriately secluded in this busy, noisy city, whose incessant hum, resounding through these places of repose, adds effect to their subduing silence. Lincoln’s Inn Fields, where are the museums of John Hunter and Sir John Sloane and the Inns of the court, give a sequestered spot where the talent of English physicians and barristers may be cultivated without disturbance and their scholastic tastes may be cherished. I felt as if a new life was breathed into me when I rambled beyond the noise and filth of Newgate into the refinement of this quarter of the city.
I have spent a few hours in the House of Commons a dull and most uninteresting session, where I saw Bradlaugh, who came into the gallery to meet me, and who inquired after his old friends in America. Last evening I had a long and most interesting conversation with Mr. Gladstone after a dinner given him by Mr. Carnegie. I asked him how long it would be be-fore a confederation would be formed in the United Kingdom. In his endeavors to answer this question, which I have found it very difficult for any Englishman to answer, he entered upon a discussion of American affairs and the character of our Constitution. He expressed his usual admiration of our institutions and of the policy on which our government is founded. The idea that our civil organization was founded on an accumulation of facts and popular necessities, and grew out of them, had impressed itself on his mind, and he seemed inclined to believe that, while the theorists and doctrinaires were opposed to our federal organization, the most practical man of his time, the best farmer, the bravest warrior, the most successful land-surveyor, secured the adoption of the charter of our rights and privileges, and that it was Washington alone who gave us our Constitution. He said he had watched with great interest Mr. Bryce’s excursion to America to give a sketch of our institutions and when I ventured to refer to De Tocqueville as having writ-ten, half a century ago, the best analysis of our government and laws, he remarked that De Tocqueville was a genius as great as Burke in his use of language and in his power of investigation. Mr. Gladstone is a most agreeable talker and takes care not to monopolize the conversation. He resembles the best type of our New England character in form and feature and cast of mind. In my youth I knew an old Unitarian minister who had been ostracized and driven from his parish in Coventry, Connecticut, on account of the liberality of his opinions in the early days of the contest between the believers in the Unity and the believers in the Trinitya sturdy old Puritan, who was a patron of letters, was poor, but helped the bright boys of his neighborhood to get an education, had a broad face and broad shoulders, talked moderately, and was named Abiel Abbot, one of a long line of educators, scholars, and philanthropists. And this worthy and representative New Englander, Mr. Gladstone strongly resembled. The type is a good one for a free and non-conforming people, but a poor one for a conformist. The party at dinner was most distinguishedSir Edwin Arnold, John Morley, who introduced us to the gallery of the House, Mr. and Mrs. Gladstone, Mr. William Black, Mrs. Morley and Miss Pullman, Mr. and Mrs. Lawton, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Lincoln, Gen. Lloyd Bryce, Mrs. John A. Logan, Mrs. Commodore Garrison, and Consul-General and Mrs. New. Mr. Carnegie sent his keen impulse through the assembly, and his sweet wife performed her part with great grace and dignity.
June 20th.This morning Mr. B. P. Stevens took me to the House of the Rolls, in which are kept the records of the kingdom and which contains documents of rare value. Pew persons are admitted, and it was only at the request of Mr. Stevens that I secured a permit. I had a most charming genealogical talk with my guide, and saw Domesday Book, upon which all eyes are not allowed to rest. I saw the oath taken by Queen Victoria on her coronation, a clear, beautifully written sheet, with questions and answers definitely arranged, among which was an oath to support the Church of England, and Ireland now disestablished. Victoria’s signature is rough and manly, not the handwriting of a fashionable young lady, but the sturdy and unpretentious work of a farmer. The Rolls itself is most interesting, standing as it does near the old church and but a few feet from all that remains of Dryden’s house, now nearly demolished.
An invitation to attend Lady Salisbury’s reception at the Foreign Office and that of Mr. Morgan to occupy his box at the opera gave us good opportunities to catch a rapid view of society as we flew through the city. The reception was most beautiful. The great staircase, the wealth of flowers, the abundance of diamonds, the multitude of dowagers, made a most distinguished display. Lord Salisbury is a sturdy son of England, and Lady Salisbury has a most gracious and gentle manner. I dined with the Historical Society, a body of learned gentlemen, and at the house of Mr. and Mrs. Chamberlain, where we met at dinner a most thoroughly American party, and where I was charmed with the grace of Mrs. Chamberlain, who represents so well the renowned beauty of old Salem.
The exhibition of the Royal Agricultural Society, its semi-centennial, took place at Windsor while I was in London, and I witnessed with great satisfaction the universal interest felt in its success by all classes of people and the high value set upon it as an encouragement to agriculture. They are not obliged to defend cattle-shows in England. The season here has been good thus far. A good hay crop and large crops of potatoes, grain, and roots rejoice the heart of the farmers. The crop of wheat was estimated at thirty bushels to the acre. The farming industry of England is always interesting. From her flocks and herds the United States breeders have drawn their most valuable blood for every purpose to which animals are devoted, and the English farmer has received for his sales of cattle and horses, sheep and swine, a larger remuneration than for any other branch of his business. I learn that the sales of pure-bred stock during the past year, both of cattle and horses, have been most satisfactory. Early in the year the sales of Shire-horses were large, the most important of which was the sale of Mr. Gilley, at which the Duke of Westminster paid five hundred guineas for Stanton Hero, and the Prince of Wales three hundred guineas for the Pride of Fleet. At the Shire-horse sale nearly £1o,000 was received at public auction, and during the show the private sales amounted to about £4,000. For Hackneys, Suffolks, Cleveland Bays, and Clydesdales the trade has been good. Cattle also sold well. At forty-three sales of Short-horns 2,323 head were sold for a total of 76 pounds, 570 14s. 6d., or an average of 32 pounds 19s. 3d., each, being a large advance over the prices of 1885, 1886, 1887, and 1888. In Scotland the sales of pure-bred cattle resulted in an average of
22 15s. per head being obtained for Short-horns, and of 21 pounds 18s. for those of the Polled Angus breed. Besides these a good business has been done in the other leading breeds, the Herefords more especially. The greatest feature of the year, however, has been the growing popularity of the Irish cattle, the Kerrys and the Dexter-Kerrys, many of which have been brought into England. Herds of these small cattle have been established at Windsor and Sandringham, and so great has been the demand for them that the Royal Dublin Society have determined to establish a herd-book of the breed. Sales of sheep have also been very satisfactory, and prices for all breeds have been better than for many years. In the Windsor show no less than £15o were given for three Lincoln sheep, the first-, second-, and third-prize winners in the shearling ram class, having been purchased to go to Victoria at that price. The demand both from home and foreign buyers was largely increased over former years, the breeders of some varieties, such as the Hampshire Downs, being encouraged to make a great increase in their flocks, and to establish a flock register. I think the Shropshires still hold the foremost rank among all the sheep of England.
The establishment of a Board of Agriculture and the appointment of a secretary who is a member of the Ministry, have given a new impulse to agriculture in England. The command of the Queen to Mr. Jacob Wilson, the honorary director of the society’s shows, to dine at Windsor Castle, and to receive at her hands the honor of knighthood, her success in taking prizes at the Birmingham and Smithfields fat-stock shows, besides several of the breed championships, and a large number of other prizes, have encouraged the English farmer to pursue with more than usual zeal an occupation which has not of late years been distinguished for its success.
The presence of the Queen and the Royal Family at the Windsor Exhibition was impressive, and gave great éclat to the occasion. She drove through the grounds with the Prince of Wales in most gorgeous style, followed by a great body of outriders and the members of the Royal Family, in stately array. The Queen looked cheerful, substantial, and proud of her surroundings.
The Prince of Wales is growing old. The whole scene represented well the solid power of England.
I have received an invitation to the dedication of the national monument at Plymouthnot Plymouth in England, but that more sacred Plymouth, where the genius of the English nation found a home, and made that nation immortal. I have felt it to be appropriate for me to send the following reply from the land of the fathers and from those ” sweet homes ” they loved so well,
WRITTEN ON BOARD THE Elba.
” To the Committee . I have received your courteous invitation to attend the celebration of the monument erected to the memory of those who landed at Plymouth two hundred and sixty-nine years ago, and brought with them the principles of state and society upon which the American republic is founded.
” Were I on the soil which they made sacred and immortal, and to which I am bound by every tie of blood and patriotism, I should accept the invitation with gratitude and eagerness. But I am making my way to the land which they left to find a home for their free thought and their untrammelled conscience, and am traversing the path which they bravely pursued to high accomplishment and high service ; and I can only express my thanks to you for remembering me on this occasion, and my reverence and admiration for the work which they performed. I am bound for their native shores ; and if any one doubts their defiant faith and courage, let him visit their imperial home ; if he doubts their resolution, let him sail their stormy seas ; if he doubts their wisdom and foresight, let him survey the empire which they founded, and the nationality which they inspired.
” The story of the Pilgrims has been so often told that it has become as familiar as human speech. But are we not in danger of forgetting what our history and our nation would be without them ? They brought to our shores as a family tradition the story of reform in England, wrought out by their own ancestors, the policy of a representative government, the religious congregation as the corner-stone of a Christian church, a well-defined faith superior to theory and speculation, a magistrate without a crown, a bishop without a mitre. The foundation of their state was a church, which was built upon a pure heart as the rock of salvation, and required no forms and ceremonies to point the way to the throne of God. To be a citizen of this colony, whose monument you have now completed, was to be a Christian in word and deed, and from the hour when the compact was signed on board the Mayflower until this day, the spirit which has animated the American people through all ranks and orders, through all denominations and forms of faith, has been guided by Christian rules and devoted to a Christian purpose. There may be contending creeds and parties, but the object is the same, and the individual is never lost in the multitude, nor is personal independence ever surrendered to the decree of an organization. American individualism which displays itself everywhere, which absorbs all nationalities and never emigrates, has its roots in Pilgrim soil, and spreads its branches, laden with the fruit of the tree of knowledge, wherever the purest American institutions are found.
” Believe not that the Pilgrim, whether Separatist or Puritan, planted this tree in doubt or gloom. If he had no music or song, he had enjoyed none in his old home. If he had no drama, the dramatist and the poet had no commanding place in his native land of ambition and conquest. If he had no art in the wilderness, he had not known statues and paintings in his universities and cloisters. He came forth from a severe and intense people, the most intense and severe of them all. And yet, in the absence of what in our day we call aesthetics, I am unwilling to believe the life of those heroic people was a life of darkness and gloom. Song and story and art indeed illumine human life, but there is an exultation and a triumphant joy in heroic endeavor which outshine all external light, and are not beclouded by trial or misfortune. A hard faith and a severe rule of conduct may not create a gloomy life, and we know that they gave the Pilgrim a jubilant strength and a shining victory, for which no song or comedy or device of man could have inspired him. He had his hard sorrows, but his cloud had its bow and its silver lining.
” Our land is full of monumental structures now. A loyal people has erected them everywhere to its loyal dead. The prosperous sons of self-sacrificing and de-voted fathers build libraries and churches to their memory on the spots once made sacred by the family hearth-stones. We immortalize those who taught and prayed for universal freedom, and those who fought for it, and now you complete a monument to mark the spot where the character of a great people was established on the foundation of religion, education, and self-sacrifice.”
In a few days we leave England, with all its associations and memories and greatness and feebleness, and go on one stage more towards our destination. To go from Boston to London is like going from one Amen-can city to another. The tastes, the manners, the language, the traditions, are the same ; and it is into the literature of England that the American looks for those works of thought which have made him what he . is, and into the records of England for those names which are dear to him at home. England contemplates America now with respect, wonders at her growth, is astonished, as Mr. Gladstone said, at her personal for-tunes, is amazed at her public finance. The two nations may be rivals, but they should be friends.
June 24th.-We have been two days in Paris. The journey from London was rapid and comfortable, and the Channel instead of being tempestuous was lively and inspiriting. Our rooms at Meurice’s were ready for us, and we entered upon Parisian life promptly. An early call on Mr. Whitelaw Reid, the American Minister, made an opening, and after very courteous advice and invitations from him, we began to roam. Paris covers a large surface, and the drives are long, and we were delightfully occupied until it was time to go to the Chamber of Deputies, where we listened to a most furious debate on a letter which a son of a senator had written in praise of Boulanger, and which had been intercepted. The storm was great and very amusing. A French orator is always demonstrative ; a mad French orator is fascinating.
On Saturday evening we went to a reception which followed a dinner given by the American Minister to Mrs. Levi P. Morton. The house of the. Minister is really a palace in size and decoration. Miss Eames, who started out from Maine and has captivated the musical world, sang charmingly, accompanied by a most admirable tenor, whose name I have forgotten if I ever heard it. We met many of our Washington acquaintances, Count Lewenhaupt and the Countess, Aristarchi Bey, Mr. and Mrs. Hoffman, Mr. Otis of New York, Mr. and Mrs. Augustus Jay. M. Spuller, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, entertained me with a long speech about his experiences in America at the time of the Yorktown celebration, and expressed himself as delighted with our country. Yesterday we breakfasted with friends at St. Germain. A ride of forty minutes by rail brought us to the historic spot with its old palaces and its interesting neighborhood. We breakfasted in a pretty arbor, and afterwards we drove through that beautiful wood for which St. Germain is so famous ; and the terrace from which the view of the valley of the Seine and on to Paris is as fine as nature and art can shape it, and as historic as man has been able to make it. Last evening we dined with Mrs. Sherwood, who chaperones the beautiful daughter of Mr. C. P. Huntington, and has a kind word for all Americans. The company, consisting of ten persons, was most agreeable. I listened long to the conversation of an elderly gentleman who was full of information on Suez and Panama canals, agriculture in France, French politics, French incomes, and French manners. He is a devoted friend of Boulanger, and evidently feels that he will triumph in the end ; and he informed me that the Minister of the Interior had said the scenes of ’93 should be enacted again rather than have Boulanger to rule over France. He expects victory for Boulanger from a combination of Orleanists, Bonapartists, and dissatisfied Republicans, mixed in what proportion he did not inform me.
To attend the Exposition was a matter of necessity, and we took an early hour for the excursion. Familiar as I am with such scenes, I was deeply impressed with the extent and beauty of this. It was not as broad and free and open and, as it were, natural as the Centennial Exhibition at Philadelphia in 1876, but in wealth of construction I am compelled to think it surpasses it. There are no charming hills and valleys, no great trees, no widespread landscape, but the old Eastern nationalities have poured forth their art and industry in surprising abundance ; England is strong, massive, solid, and enduring in her great exhibition of ceramics, manufactures, and machinery of every description ; France abounds ; everything that can conduce to the luxury of life she has gathered here. There is one Sevres vase worth coming to Europe to see. There are groups of statuary, graceful, gross, inspiring, and the reverse ; boudoirs furnished like the garden of Eden ; gigantic figures of heroes, lions, and griffins ; brocades which would have set our colonial damsels wild ; and decorations more beautiful than even the ceilings of the American Capitol are in the eye of an admiring citizen. And then the laces of Brussels, the beautiful work of thousands of weary fingers ; the gorgeous glass of Austria and Hungary ; the intelligent machinery of England and the United States ; the mounted savagery of the forests of Russia ; the swarthy beauty of Arabia and Persia ; the quaint productions of the Swiss ; the agricultural machinery, and well-ordered stables, and dairy arrangements, and model farm-steadings, in miniature, from France and Germany ; and gilded and carved furniture of Italy ; and textiles of Spain ; and wines and primitive implements of Portugal ; and the mineral and forest wealth of South America ;all this and more in most fascinating collection and arrangement filled me with wonder and admiration. I was really introduced to human ingenuity and skill, and was more than ever impressed with man’s devotion to beauty and luxury. All philosophy and theology and social speculation and poetry and politics were driven out of my head by the material splendor before me. Our trip along the Champ de Mars to the Eiffel Tower, for scenery and a lunch, was by no means the least interesting experience. It is useless to try to describe this tower. The work is as grand as a mountain., They call it a thousand feet high ; but it seems to be five thousand. A tall poplar-tree has not more grace, Mount Washington not a firmer base. It is the Washington Monument, and the Susquehanna Bridge, and the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Suspension Bridge at Niagara, and the dome of St. Peter’s all crowded into one. We went in an elevator, a huge car lifted by water machinery, to the top of the first platform, higher far than Bunker Hill Monument, and had a most refreshing luncheon, a bottle of chablis, a bit of roast beef, a salad, and bread and butterwith a view of Paris before us never seen until this tower was built. All the great historic buildings, the hill of Montmartre, the great Arc de Triomphe, the gilded dome of the Invalids, the towers of Notre Dame, stood around, and the gardens and groves and dwellings of Paris filled the scene. The view is most impressive, suggestive, and interesting. There is so much life in Paris,such a bright sky, such invigorating air, such marks of the saint, such footsteps of the devil, such perfection of beauty and the beast, one wonders, admires, and is bewildered.
For myself I have been very busynot in visiting old scenes and old buildings,but I have seen many interesting people, and have greatly enjoyed strolling over this gay, bright, irrepressible city. My commission goes far towards my enjoyment. Official position is much esteemed here. We dine tonight with Mr. and Mrs. Reid, and to-morrow we go to a garden-party given by President Carnot at the Elysèes. I am deter-mined to leave on Monday for Lisbon, which I find is at the end of a long and tedious journey, made by express on Wednesday and Saturday, on every other day by stages from town to town, and, if you wish, once a fortnight by small steamers from Bordeaux. Not a pleasant prospect. Last evening we took another long drive with Count and Countess Galli in the Bois de Boulogne and in the suburbs of Paris, and wound up the evening with a visit to Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. Everything trivial fits this place and people exactlyeven where the tragic marks are the deepest in the world.
The garden-party was quite entertaining. The French have preserved enough of the royal magnificence, which once prevailed entirely, to give an air of monarchical rule to all their public ceremonies. The republic flourishes in all its power, and France gets further and further away from the splendors of royalty. But time alone can remove the landmarks laid down by kings and a voluptuous court, and the simplicity and absence of display which mark the workings of popular government come on as slowly and gradually as the days of spring and early summer. And so the garden-party had much ceremony, and many lacqueys, and much tinsel, and a good deal of promenading, and considerable formality. I met many Americans there. And Colonel Lichtenstein, who represented President Grévy at our Yorktown centennial, greeted us as an old friend, and escorted us through the charming salons hung with old Gobelin tapestry.
The scene at the garden-party was enchanting. The beauty of the Elysées has charmed many generations of men. Nature and art have combined to make this spot most lovely and most appropriate for an assembly of savans and scientists from every quarter of the globe. Men gathered in groups on the lawn according to their nationalities in Europe, and representatives from the newly found western continent. Many a familiar American group welcomed me ; and the French spirit animated and the French courtesy regulated the entire assembly. President Carnot might have been born in Malta.
July 3d.The journey from Paris to Bordeaux is fine and varied. You start out at once into Orleans, with all its historic interest, and travel over a great extent of country level and almost treeless, cultivated to the degree of a garden, with no waste land, no animals, apparently no peoplenone visible. The Château de Chambord arrests your attention,a specimen of architectural beauty seldom surpassed, and rich in the portraits of Madame de Maintenon, Anne of Austria, and their brilliant associates. You pass on through gardens and towns to Tours, where you rest for an hour and get a flood of historical memories. Beyond Tours, Poictiers greets you, and Angoulême, and you realize that you are passing through a part of France owned and loved by kings and princes and fought for by great captains. As you approach Bordeaux the surface of the country becomes more uneven, and you are attracted at once by the multitude and extent of the vineyards. Vines planted on thousands of acres make a cheerful landscape at this season, and hold out great promise of autumnal wine. Indian-corn fields also attracted my admiring gaze.
In the morning we left the vinous town in a bright sunlight and sweet air. As we went on our way every-thing changed. First came miles of hard pine forests planted in even rows for the pitch, each tree having a wound and a cup to catch the flow of vital fluidlike a sugar-maple in Vermont. The soil was thin, but cultivated everywhere for some purposewheat, barley, potatoes, grass, pines. Erelong the Pyrenees appeared, and then for miles we whirled on through a scene hardly equalled in the Alleghanies or White Mountains. The great hills like Mount Washington, the deep valleys like the Glen, the rapid streams like the Saco, all filled me with great joy in nature and with the tenderest memories. For an hour or more the seacoast comes into view, and on one side lie Biarritz and San Sebastian, while on the other the mountains and hills are piled up in great grandeur and beauty.
The sun went down ; a new moon like an eyelash appeared ; my planet, the evening star, which lighted me home so often last autumn, and whose glories have followed me everywhere in Washington and New York and on the ocean and here, hung in all its glory in the same western sky, and the evening air was cool and sweet. Soon we broke out of all this glory and traversed the hard, rocky hills which abound in this part of Spain.
Now through all this long day’s ride we saw everywhere marks of human industry. No acres available were lying idle. All that could be reached were well cultivated. I saw no peopleonly a few toiling in the field–men and women hoeing and making hay. I saw very few horsesonly one small drove on their way to market, and another at pasture. I saw only one pleasure-carriage during the day, on the fine roads. Mules and well-mated fawn-colored oxen, cultivating the corn and skilfully avoiding the rows, were doing the farmwork. I saw but few homes of the people. They toiled up to the latest twilight, and then collected into little groups to go I knew not whither. A few flocks of sheep gathered around their shepherds and lay down for the night. When I passed on they stood looking at themthe shepherds at the sheep,and for aught I know they are there still. There was no dwelling near. The mules were tethered by the road-side and the toil-worn oxen made their beds in the tall grass. No walls or fences divided the fields. The grazing animals seemed to recognize the boundaries of the various plots of grain and grass by instinct, and none overstepped the limits. In all this one got no idea of home, or school, or association, or social culture, or civil tight. The level for men and animals and industry was uniform. The only mills I saw were windmills and two or three paper-mills, and the rapid streams were chiefly devoted to women washing clothes.
When we left Bordeaux, we intended to stop a night in Burgos and take a train the next morning for Madrid, according to instructions given us in Paris. But I was misled and I made up my mind to gain a day and see Burgos, with its great cathedral and its historic associations. When I left Bordeaux I went away from a busy American-looking town, which was once famous for its American commerce, its maritime business, and its historical importance, whose streets and mole had been trodden for ages by a most industrious and hardy people, and whose name is identified with ancient and modern enterprise. When I arrived at Burgos I found myself in an interesting, quaint, venerable town, whose antiquities occupied all my attention, whose enterprise was small and secondary, and which is distinguished for the marks of the Cid and Charles the V., and all the Don Fernandos, and with a great gateway erected in honor of Charles the V. ; and the famous cathedral.
Burgos was long the capital of Castile and Leon, and is a fine specimen of a genuine Castilian city. It was founded in 884, and has passed through the various fortunes of war so well known to all Spanish towns. When the kings of Castile removed their court from Burgos, they destroyed the sources of its prosperity. During the Peninsular wars it was with its strong fortifications the obstacle to the passage of Wellington out of Spain, and so firmly was it held that, after five or six assaults, the English were obliged to retire to Madrid, while the fortifications were destroyed and the path left open. Since that day Burgos has been idle.
The Gothic Cathedral is the main object of interest in this representative Spanish town. It was royally founded by St. Ferdinand in honor of his marriage with Donna Beatrix in 1221 ; and the reigning sovereign became one of the canons of the chapter from which Pope Alexander VI. sprang. The very soil on which it stands is steeped in ecclesiastical renown. It seems to be the most sacred spot on earthand the cathedral itself an object worthy of occupying the place. True the approach to this wonderful piece of architecture is most humble, and the great doorway opens from a court-yard surrounded with dingy and misshapen dwellings. But out from this low level springs a collection of graceful spires, which draw you away from earth and direct your mind to the heaven of saints and the great white throne. While you contemplate this ravishing accumulation, the heavy curtain is swung away from the door and you enter. The scene before you is overpowering. The lofty arches and the great nave oppress you with their grandeur. The retable of the high altar, in the centre of which is a silver image of the Virgin, is very fine, and the rest of the altar is occupied by statues representing scenes from the life of the Virgin, of apostles and saints. At the side of the altar are tombs of three Infantes of Castile, who were buried there in the 14th century. Impressed with the sacredness of this monumental structure, you wander from chapel to chapel, until you become enamoured of that genius and religious enthusiasm which found expression in such sublime work. It is a picture of ancient reposerepresenting the fervor and zeal of past centuries without a bond to bind it to the present. The mind endeavors to people it with active life, with kings and priests and all the bright display which belonged to the Church in its prime and power. The arabesques and monsters represent the hideous side of life, and images of saints and angels all that is holy and pure. Recumbent effigies of the founders have lain silent there for centuries and fill you with awe and reverence. To be led from chapel to chapel, introduced by turns to the work of Nicodemus, and the Virgin and child by Sebastian del Piombo, and to the splendid tomb of the great Bishop Alonso de Carthagena, and to the gorgeous Chapel of the Condestable with its great wealth of art and deco-ration, is like being borne from one sacred presence to another, until the mind grows weary with the contemplation of so much beauty. The cloisters are equally fine and imposing. Over the doorway leading into the Old Sacristy is carved the Descent from the Cross ; and in the ante-room of the Chapter House is preserved El Cofre del Cid, a battered iron-bound chest, attached to the wall high above the floor, in which the Cid stored the stones which he pledged to the Jews for a loan to carry on his wars. He pledged his victories also with the contents of the chest, and returned victorious to redeem his pledge.
When you leave this lofty monument to man’s devotion and religious zeal, you step forth into a dismal accumulation of ordinary city life. Burgos is old and squalid. But within those holy walls are legends and tales of sad realities and tragic adventures which give inexpressible charm to the scene. The beautiful door of the cloister, the finest in the world next to the gates of the Baptistery at Florence, arrests you, and you stand in mute admiration before it. The choir, the stairs, the doors, the iron bars, and above the cathedral doorways images of saints carved in stone, all challenge you to pause and admire their grace and beauty. The tales which are told you of the faith and love and devotion manifested thereof the Christ which bleeds, of the king whose romantic life is connected with this great cathedralbind you as by a spell to the spot. And you go forth into the decaying city around you perplexed by the mysteries of the Roman Catholic Church, to whose glory all wealth and power and genius once dedicated themselves, and which now turns back with pride to its ancient grandeur.
No cathedral in all Christendom surpasses in beauty this at Burgos. From the small square in front, one can contemplate the façade above which rise airy spires pointing in great numbers high above the roof like tall and tapering pines in the forest. The façade is ornamented with a multitude of statues of princes, angels, and martyrs, so perfect in size and shape that they deceive you with the thought that they are living guardians of the temple. Not a line of all these spires disturbs your sense of harmony. The group is as uniform, beautiful, and inspiring, as the work of man can be to the soul of him who contemplates it. As in viewing a lofty mountain man is filled with faith and aspiration, so, as the eye wanders over this sublime structure, he warms toward those who have labored to bring to earth the beauty of the starry heavens. This great work, which belongs to the times of the Renaissance, was built when devotion to art and architecture had reached the highest point. Religious faith found expression in most exquisite forms : and so as you stand beneath the cupola of this building you behold on every side, above and below, a bewildering mass of columns and tracery and images, each one of which is so delicately wrought that it seems to express all that sense of beauty which language would fail to convey. Turn to either hand and your eye rests upon a gorgeous chapel dedicated to a prince, or a bishop, or a king, whose effigies lie in the centre of all the magnificence, guarded by an army of angels and saints so decorated and clad that at a signal the room might be filled with life. To the art of this structure it is said that Leonardo da Vinci, Michael Angelo, and Andrea del Sarto contributed each his share ; and the Roman Catholic Church can turn to it as the culmination of its architectural power.
July 9th.—We reached Madrid early in the morning of July 4th, and proceeded at once to get a view of the town. We began by exploring carefully the great museum where the pictures of Murillo, Velasquez, Titian, Tintoretto, Poussin, Rubens, and a numerous crowd are collected. Murillo is as sweet and spiritual as ever, Velasquez as royal and vexatious, Titian as voluptuous, Rubens as red, Poussin as gloomy, Tintoretto as brilliant and commonplace. Among them all stands Murillo preeminent.
A journey’ in the night-time on a Spanish train from Burgos to Madrid is dismal and dreary,spectral in the darkness. The surface of the earth and the forms of animal life were bad enough before we reached Burgos, but when morning dawned and revealed the landscape, the sight which met our eyes was rude and picturesque. Dawn broke upon a surface of mountains and valleys literally covered with boulders large and small, from the size of a cocoa-nut to the size of a cathedral. They stood not alone but in groups, and lay as thickly along the land as the dead lay at Water-loo and Gettysburg ; and so on for miles. The scene was defiant and startling. A scanty herbage sprang up among the rocks. No crops appeared, except here and there at long intervals a sickly patch of wheat or lentils. I lay in my berth watching the increasing sunlight when, just as the gloom diminished and the earth seemed a little more hospitable, a beautiful vision of a building came into view with a dome of unparalleled beauty and lines of windows flashing in the sunlight like long rows of brilliants. It was the Escorial shining in the desolation. Why it was there no man could tell. Philip II. spent fifteen years in watching its construction from a rocky seat on a neighboring hillside ; and there it stands as beautiful without and as gloomy within as his dismal soul could make it. It was a realization of the Methodist hymn which, in describing heaven, says with religious fervor and pious zeal :
” Those glittering towers the stars outshine.”
I had no idea the famous structure was so far away from Madrid ; and I suppose if Philip had imagined a railroad would ever have shortened the distance, he would have taken his seat and laid the foundations of his palace farther on among the stony hills of Spain, beyond the reach of locomotives and wagon-lits, the detestable European name for a detestable thing, which we possess with all its comforts and luxuries and cleanliness and call a sleeping-car in America.
We spent the Fourth of July with Minister Palmer, who with Mrs. Palmer and the attachés of his Legation and ourselves sat down to a national dinner. We drank to the prosperity of the Republic ; and after having explored a city like this the Republic seemed resplendent. It seems to me that nothing but ecclesiastical necessity and personal ambition could have located Madrid where it is. It is the centre of the-most miserable part of Spain and has been maintained by force ever since it was founded.
At eleven o’clock at night we left for Lisbon. Of course I saw nothing until morning dawned, and then we were rolling through a poor barren country such as we saw on our approach to the capital of Spain. As we went on, however, matters improved, and from the sandy soil and thin crops of that part of the country, we gradually ran into a better region which increased in beauty when we entered Portugal. The grain fields were somewhat luxuriant. The cork trees were being stripped of their crop of bark, and stood around in flesh-colored costume or in dingy garments, covering hundreds of acres in most picturesque manner, like sturdy oaks. The fences were great rows of century-plants rejoicing in a genial climate. The houses were prim and white. Droves of horses fed on the pastures, and herds of cows reminded me of the Pickman farm and the town pastures of Salem. At last the Tagus came into view and enlivened the landscape with its broad yellow current, bearing on its bosom a scattered fleet of boats with tall lateen sails. On its banks were a few lumber establishments, and on its low borders salt-pans were doing the best they could to convert their salt-water into a merchantable product. Gardens and vineyards multiplied as we approached Lisbon, and I looked with delight on the evidences of horticulture under favorable circumstances. We reached our destination at three o’clock, and were met at the station by Mr. Wilbor, the Vice-Consul who attended us to the Hotel Bragauza, and enlightened me about the people and my predecessor. From our windows we could overlook the broad river widening into a bay directly before us. The far off opposite shore is beautiful, and the white villages along the remote banks are most attractive and suggestive.
Lisbon is an interesting townthe Portuguese are an interesting people. They appear well, are quiet and reposeful and calm under ordinary circumstances. They neither drink to excess nor fight. Their houses are in good order, their railway stations are well-built, neat, and convenient, their fields are well cared for, so far as the simplest implements of husbandry will allow, and their streets and highways are well-built and clean. They have an encouraging air of slender thrift. There are not many new buildings in Lisbon, but there are attractive old onesconvents, monasteries, palaces, and churches.
The Legation, as it is called, is a suite of old-fashioned rooms with old furniture and marks of old diplomacy, relics of General Humphries and John Pickering, in the early times, and of devoted citizens later on. There is an air of comfort about them which is encouraging. The place is unique. London is grand and massive Paris is glittering and active ; Madrid is, with the exception of its great galleries, hard and cold, and as imperious as a cavalier or a don. But Portugal is the condensation of luxurious quiet. Lisbon with its steep hilly streets, its mouldy grandeur, its calm old age, is the place in all the world to which one can retire with assurance of finding rest, even among mild pro-tests and popular feeling. It is one extreme of cultivated civilizationLondon standing at the other. It has the respectability of old age. But we abandoned all this and took up our residence at Cintra, that famous abode of heroes and conspirators and poets and diplomatists.