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.
I have told our story with the help of my daughter's diary, and often aided by her recollections. Having enjoyed so much, I am desirous that my countrymen and countrywomen should share my good fortune with me. I hesitated at first about printing names in full, but when I remembered that we received nothing but the most overflowing hospitality and the most considerate kindness from all we met, I felt sure that I could not offend by telling my readers who the friends were that made England a second home to us. If any one of them is disturbed by such reference as I have made to him or to her, I most sincerely apologize for the liberty I have taken. I am far more afraid that through sheer forgetfulness I have left unmentioned many to whom I was and still remain under obligations.
and other good mouthable lines, from the "Lays of Ancient Rome." Not less should I like to hear Mr. Arnold himself read the passage beginning,--
enough to stir the soul of stalwart Ben Jonson, and the names of Sidney and Herbert make us forget the strange hyperboles.
The Cephalonia was to sail at half past six in the morning, and at that early hour a company of well-wishers was gathered on the wharf at East Boston to bid us good-by. We took with us many tokens of their thoughtful kindness; flowers and fruits from Boston and Cambridge, and a basket of champagne from a Concord friend whose company is as exhilarating as the sparkling wine he sent us. With the other gifts came a small tin box, about as big as a common round wooden match box. I supposed it to hold some pretty gimcrack, sent as a pleasant parting token of remembrance. It proved to be a most valued daily companion, useful at all times, never more so than when the winds were blowing hard and the ship was struggling with the waves. There must have been some magic secret in it, for I am sure that I looked five years younger after closing that little box than when I opened it. Time will explain its mysterious power.
"How much?" I said to the gar?on 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.
I well remembered my visit to Stratford in 1834. The condition of the old house in which Shakespeare was born was very different from that in which we see it to-day. A series of photographs taken in different years shows its gradual transformation since the time when the old projecting angular sign-board told all who approached "The immortal Shakespeare was born in this House." How near the old house came to sharing the fortunes of Jumbo under the management of our enterprising countryman, Mr. Barnum, I am not sure; but that he would have "traded" for it, if the proprietors had been willing, I do not doubt, any more than I doubt that he would make an offer for the Tower of London, if that venerable structure were in the market. The house in which Shakespeare was born is the Santa Casa of England. What with my recollections and the photographs with which I was familiarly acquainted, it had nothing very new for me. Its outside had undergone great changes, but its bare interior was little altered.
If one had to name the apple of the eye of England, I think he would be likely to say that Salisbury Cathedral was as near as he could come to it, and that the white of the eye was Salisbury Close. The cathedral is surrounded by a high wall, the gates of which,--its eyelids,--are closed every night at a seasonable hour, at which the virtuous inhabitants are expected to be in their safe and sacred quarters. Houses within this hallowed precinct naturally bring a higher rent than those of the unsanctified and unprotected region outside of its walls. It is a realm of peace, glorified by the divine edifice, which lifts the least imaginative soul upward to the heavens its spire seems trying to reach; beautified by rows of noble elms which stretch high aloft, as if in emulation of the spire; beatified by holy memories of the good and great men who have worn their lives out in the service of the church of which it is one of the noblest temples.