The pressure for entrance that evening was very great, and I, coming after my dinner with the Literary Club, was late upon the ground. The places for "distinguished guests" were already filled. But all England was in a conspiracy to do everything possible to make my visit agreeable. I did not take up a great deal of room,--I might be put into a seat with the ambassadors and foreign ministers. And among them I was presently installed. It was now between ten and eleven o'clock, as nearly as I recollect. The House had been in session since four o'clock. A gentleman was speaking, who was, as my unknown next neighbor told me, Sir Michael Hicks-Beach, a leading member, as we all know, of the opposition. When he sat down there was a hush of expectation, and presently Mr. Gladstone rose to his feet. A great burst of applause welcomed him, lasting more than a minute. His clean-cut features, his furrowed cheeks, his scanty and whitened hair, his well-shaped but not extraordinary head, all familiarized by innumerable portraits and emphasized in hundreds of caricatures, revealed him at once to every spectator. His great speech has been universally read, and I need only speak of the way in which it was delivered. His manner was forcible rather than impassioned or eloquent; his voice was clear enough, but must have troubled him somewhat, for he had a small bottle from which he poured something into a glass from time to time and swallowed a little, yet I heard him very well for the most part. In the last portion of his speech he became animated and inspiriting, and his closing words were uttered with an impressive solemnity: "Think, I beseech you, think well, think wisely, think not for a moment, but for the years that are to come, before you reject this bill."
with the object of his affections awaiting him in this boudoir of nature. What a pity that Zekle, who courted Huldy over the apples she was peeling, could not have made love as the bucolic youth does, when
I am sorry that we could not have visited Newstead Abbey. I had a letter from Mr. Thornton Lothrop to Colonel Webb, the present proprietor, with whom we lunched. I have spoken of the pleasure I had when I came accidentally upon persons with whose name and fame I had long been acquainted. A similar impression was that which I received when I found myself in the company of the bearer of an old historic name. When my host at the lunch introduced a stately-looking gentleman as Sir Kenelm Digby, it gave me a start, as if a ghost had stood before me. I recovered myself immediately, however, for there was nothing of the impalpable or immaterial about the stalwart personage who bore the name. I wanted to ask him if he carried any of his ancestor's "powder of sympathy" about with him. Many, but not all, of my readers remember that famous man's famous preparation. When used to cure a wound, it was applied to the weapon that made it; the part was bound up so as to bring the edges of the wound together, and by the wondrous influence of the sympathetic powder the healing process took place in the kindest possible manner. Sir Kenelm, the ancestor, was a gallant soldier, a grand gentleman, and the husband of a wonderfully beautiful wife, whose charms he tried to preserve from the ravages of time by various experiments. He was also the homoeopathist of his day, the Elisha Perkins (metallic tractors) of his generation. The "mind cure" people might adopt him as one of their precursors.
While at Salisbury we made several excursions: to Old Sarum; to Bemerton, where we saw the residence of holy George Herbert, and visited the little atom of a church in which he ministered; to Clarendon Park; to Wilton, the seat of the Earl of Pembroke, a most interesting place for itself and its recollections; and lastly to Stonehenge. My second visit to the great stones after so long an interval was a strange experience. But what is half a century to a place like Stonehenge? Nothing dwarfs an individual life like one of these massive, almost unchanging monuments of an antiquity which refuses to be measured. The "Shepherd of Salisbury Plain" was represented by an old man, who told all he knew and a good deal more about the great stones, and sheared a living, not from sheep, but from visitors, in the shape of shillings and sixpences. I saw nothing that wore unwoven wool on its back in the neighborhood of the monuments, but sheep are shown straggling among them in the photographs.
It seems as if Compton Wynyate must have been written about in some novel or romance,--perhaps in more than one of both. It is the place of all others to be the scene of a romantic story. It lies so hidden away among the hills that its vulgar name, according to old Camden, was "Compton in the Hole." I am not sure that it was the scene of any actual conflict, but it narrowly escaped demolition in the great civil war, and in 1646 it was garrisoned by the Parliament army.
From Great Malvern we went to Bath, another place where we could rest and be comfortable. The Grand Pump-Room Hotel was a stately building, and the bath-rooms were far beyond anything I had ever seen of that kind. The remains of the old Roman baths, which appear to have been very extensive, are partially exposed. What surprises one all over the Old World is to see how deeply all the old civilizations contrive to get buried. Everybody seems to have lived in the cellar. It is hard to believe that the cellar floor was once the sun surface of the smiling earth.