MoboReader > Literature > Eighty Years and More; Reminiscences 1815-1897


Eighty Years and More; Reminiscences 1815-1897 By Elizabeth Cady Stanton Characters: 34666

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:04

My engagement was a season of doubt and conflict-doubt as to the wisdom of changing a girlhood of freedom and enjoyment for I knew not what, and conflict because the step I proposed was in opposition to the wishes of all my family. Whereas, heretofore, friends were continually suggesting suitable matches for me and painting the marriage relation in the most dazzling colors, now that state was represented as beset with dangers and disappointments, and men, of all God's creatures as the most depraved and unreliable. Hard pressed, I broke my engagement, after months of anxiety and bewilderment; suddenly I decided to renew it, as Mr. Stanton was going to Europe as a delegate to the World's Anti-slavery Convention, and we did not wish the ocean to roll between us.

Thursday, May 10, 1840, I determined to take the fateful step, without the slightest preparation for a wedding or a voyage; but Mr. Stanton, coming up the North River, was detained on "Marcy's Overslaugh," a bar in the river where boats were frequently stranded for hours. This delay compelled us to be married on Friday, which is commonly supposed to be a most unlucky day. But as we lived together, without more than the usual matrimonial friction, for nearly a half a century, had seven children, all but one of whom are still living, and have been well sheltered, clothed, and fed, enjoying sound minds in sound bodies, no one need be afraid of going through the marriage ceremony on Friday for fear of bad luck. The Scotch clergyman who married us, being somewhat superstitious, begged us to postpone it until Saturday; but, as we were to sail early in the coming week, that was impossible. That point settled, the next difficulty was to persuade him to leave out the word "obey" in the marriage ceremony. As I obstinately refused to obey one with whom I supposed I was entering into an equal relation, that point, too, was conceded. A few friends were invited to be present and, in a simple white evening dress, I was married. But the good priest avenged himself for the points he conceded, by keeping us on the rack with a long prayer and dissertation on the sacred institution for one mortal hour. The Rev. Hugh Maire was a little stout fellow, vehement in manner and speech, who danced about the floor, as he laid down the law, in the most original and comical manner. As Mr. Stanton had never seen him before, the hour to him was one of constant struggle to maintain his equilibrium. I had sat under his ministrations for several years, and was accustomed to his rhetoric, accent, and gestures, and thus was able to go through the ordeal in a calmer state of mind.

Sister Madge, who had stood by me bravely through all my doubts and anxieties, went with us to New York and saw us on board the vessel. My sister Harriet and her husband, Daniel C. Eaton, a merchant in New York city, were also there. He and I had had for years a standing game of "tag" at all our partings, and he had vowed to send me "tagged" to Europe. I was equally determined that he should not. Accordingly, I had a desperate chase after him all over the vessel, but in vain. He had the last "tag" and escaped. As I was compelled, under the circumstances, to conduct the pursuit with some degree of decorum, and he had the advantage of height, long limbs, and freedom from skirts, I really stood no chance whatever. However, as the chase kept us all laughing, it helped to soften the bitterness of parting.

Fairly at sea, I closed another chapter of my life, and my thoughts turned to what lay in the near future. James G. Birney, the anti-slavery nominee for the presidency of the United States, joined us in New York, and was a fellow-passenger on the Montreal for England. He and my husband were delegates to the World's Anti-slavery Convention, and both interested themselves in my anti-slavery education. They gave me books to read, and, as we paced the deck day by day, the question was the chief theme of our conversation.

Mr. Birney was a polished gentleman of the old school, and was excessively proper and punctilious in manner and conversation. I soon perceived that he thought I needed considerable toning down before reaching England. I was quick to see and understand that his criticisms of others in a general way and the drift of his discourses on manners and conversation had a nearer application than he intended I should discover, though he hoped I would profit by them. I was always grateful to anyone who took an interest in my improvement, so I laughingly told him, one day, that he need not make his criticisms any longer in that roundabout way, but might take me squarely in hand and polish me up as speedily as possible. Sitting in the saloon at night after a game of chess, in which, perchance, I had been the victor, I felt complacent and would sometimes say:

"Well, what have I said or done to-day open to criticism?"

So, in the most gracious manner, he replied on one occasion:

"You went to the masthead in a chair, which I think very unladylike. I heard you call your husband 'Henry' in the presence of strangers, which is not permissible in polite society. You should always say 'Mr. Stanton.' You have taken three moves back in this game."

"Bless me!" I replied, "what a catalogue in one day! I fear my Mentor will despair of my ultimate perfection."

"I should have more hope," he replied, "if you seemed to feel my rebukes more deeply, but you evidently think them of too little consequence to be much disturbed by them."

As he found even more fault with my husband, we condoled with each other and decided that our friend was rather hypercritical and that we were as nearly perfect as mortals need be for the wear and tear of ordinary life. Being both endowed with a good degree of self-esteem, neither the praise nor the blame of mankind was overpowering to either of us. As the voyage lasted eighteen days-for we were on a sailing vessel-we had time to make some improvement, or, at least, to consider all friendly suggestions.

At this time Mr. Birney was very much in love with Miss Fitzhugh of Geneseo, to whom he was afterward married. He suffered at times great depression of spirits, but I could always rouse him to a sunny mood by introducing her name. That was a theme of which he never grew weary, and, while praising her, a halo of glory was to him visible around my head and I was faultless for the time being. There was nothing in our fellow-passengers to break the monotony of the voyage. They were all stolid, middle-class English people, returning from various parts of the world to visit their native land.

When out of their hearing, Mr. Birney used to ridicule them without mercy; so, one day, by way of making a point, I said with great solemnity, "Is it good breeding to make fun of the foibles of our fellow-men, who have not had our advantages of culture and education?" He felt the rebuke and blushed, and never again returned to that subject. I am sorry to say I was glad to find him once in fault.

Though some amusement, in whatever extraordinary way I could obtain it, was necessary to my existence, yet, as it was deemed important that I should thoroughly understand the status of the anti-slavery movement in my own country, I spent most of my time reading and talking on that question. Being the wife of a delegate to the World's Convention, we all felt it important that I should be able to answer whatever questions I might be asked in England on all phases of the slavery question.

The captain, a jolly fellow, was always ready to second me in my explorations into every nook and cranny of the vessel. He imagined that my reading was distasteful and enforced by the older gentlemen, so he was continually planning some diversion, and often invited me to sit with him and listen to his experiences of a sailor's life.

But all things must end in this mortal life, and our voyage was near its termination, when we were becalmed on the Southern coast of England and could not make more than one knot an hour. When within sight of the distant shore, a pilot boat came along and offered to take anyone ashore in six hours. I was so delighted at the thought of reaching land that, after much persuasion, Mr. Stanton and Mr. Birney consented to go. Accordingly we were lowered into the boat in an armchair, with a luncheon consisting of a cold chicken, a loaf of bread, and a bottle of wine, with just enough wind to carry our light craft toward our destination. But, instead of six hours, we were all day trying to reach the land, and, as the twilight deepened and the last breeze died away, the pilot said: "We are now two miles from shore, but the only way you can reach there to-night is by a rowboat."

As we had no provisions left and nowhere to sleep, we were glad to avail ourselves of the rowboat. It was a bright moonlight night, the air balmy, the waters smooth, and, with two stout oarsmen, we glided swiftly along. As Mr. Birney made the last descent and seated himself, doubtful as to our reaching shore, turning to me he said: "The woman tempted me and I did leave the good ship." However, we did reach the shore at midnight and landed at Torquay, one of the loveliest spots in that country, and our journey to Exeter the next day lay through the most beautiful scenery in England.

As we had no luggage with us, our detention by customs officers was brief, and we were soon conducted to a comfortable little hotel, which we found in the morning was a bower of roses. I had never imagined anything so beautiful as the drive up to Exeter on the top of a coach, with four stout horses, trotting at the rate of ten miles an hour. It was the first day of June, and the country was in all its glory. The foliage was of the softest green, the trees were covered with blossoms, and the shrubs with flowers. The roads were perfect; the large, fine-looking coachman, with his white gloves and reins, his rosy face and lofty bearing and the postman in red, blowing his horn as we passed through every village, made the drive seem like a journey in fairyland. We had heard that England was like a garden of flowers, but we were wholly unprepared for such wealth of beauty.

In Exeter we had our first view of one of the great cathedrals in the Old World, and we were all deeply impressed with its grandeur. It was just at the twilight hour, when the last rays of the setting sun, streaming through the stained glass windows, deepened the shadows and threw a mysterious amber light over all. As the choir was practicing, the whole effect was heightened by the deep tones of the organ reverberating through the arched roof, and the sound of human voices as if vainly trying to fill the vast space above. The novelty and solemnity of the surroundings roused all our religious emotions and thrilled every nerve in our being. As if moved by the same impulse to linger there a while, we all sat down, silently waiting for something to break the spell that bound us. Can one wonder at the power of the Catholic religion for centuries, with such accessories to stimulate the imagination to a blind worship of the unknown?

Sitting in the hotel that evening and wanting something to read, we asked the waiter for the daily papers. As there was no public table or drawing room for guests, but each party had its own apartment, we needed a little change from the society of each other. Having been, as it were, shut from the outside world for eighteen days, we had some curiosity to see whether our planet was still revolving from west to east. At the mention of papers in the plural number, the attendant gave us a look of surprise, and said he would get "it." He returned saying that the gentleman in No. 4 had "it," but he would be through in fifteen minutes. Accordingly, at the end of that time, he brought the newspaper, and, after we had had it the same length of time, he came to take it to another party. At our lodging house in London, a paper was left for half an hour each morning, and then it was taken to the next house, thus serving several families of readers.

The next day brought us to London. When I first entered our lodging house in Queen Street, I thought it the gloomiest abode I had ever seen. The arrival of a delegation of ladies, the next day, from Boston and Philadelphia, changed the atmosphere of the establishment, and filled me with delightful anticipations of some new and charming acquaintances, which I fully realized in meeting Emily Winslow, Abby Southwick, Elizabeth Neal, Mary Grew, Abby Kimber, Sarah Pugh, and Lucretia Mott. There had been a split in the American anti-slavery ranks, and delegates came from both branches, and, as they were equally represented at our lodgings, I became familiar with the whole controversy. The potent element which caused the division was the woman question, and as the Garrisonian branch maintained the right of women to speak and vote in the conventions, all my sympathies were with the Garrisonians, though Mr. Stanton and Mr. Birney belonged to the other branch, called political abolitionists. To me there was no question so important as the emancipation of women from the dogmas of the past, political, religious, and social. It struck me as very remarkable that abolitionists, who felt so keenly the wrongs of the slave, should be so oblivious to the equal wrongs of their own mothers, wives, and sisters, when, according to the common law, both classes occupied a similar legal status.

Our chief object in visiting England at this time was to attend the World's Anti-slavery Convention, to meet June 12, 1840, in Freemasons' Hall, London. Delegates from all the anti-slavery societies of civilized nations were invited, yet, when they arrived, those representing associations of women were rejected. Though women were members of the National Anti-slavery Society, accustomed to speak and vote in all its conventions, and to take an equally active part with men in the whole anti-slavery struggle, and were there as delegates from associations of men and women, as well as those distinctively of their own sex, yet all alike were rejected because they were women. Women, according to English prejudices at that time, were excluded by Scriptural texts from sharing equal dignity and authority with men in all reform associations; hence it was to English minds pre-eminently unfitting that women should be admitted as equal members to a World's Convention. The question was hotly debated through an entire day. My husband made a very eloquent speech in favor of admitting the women delegates.

When we consider that Lady Byron, Anna Jameson, Mary Howitt, Mrs. Hugo Reid, Elizabeth Fry, Amelia Opie, Ann Green Phillips, Lucretia Mott, and many remarkable women, speakers and leaders in the Society of Friends, were all compelled to listen in silence to the masculine platitudes on woman's sphere, one may form some idea of the indignation of unprejudiced friends, and especially that of such women as Lydia Maria Child, Maria Chapman, Deborah Weston, Angelina and Sarah Grimké, and Abby Kelly, who were impatiently waiting and watching on this side, in painful suspense, to hear how their delegates were received. Judging from my own feelings, the women on both sides of the Atlantic must have been humiliated and chagrined, except as these feelings were outweighed by contempt for the shallow reasoning of their opponents and their comical pose and gestures in some of the intensely earnest flights of their imagination.

The clerical portion of the convention was most violent in its opposition. The clergymen seemed to have God and his angels especially in their care and keeping, and were in agony lest the women should do or say something to shock the heavenly hosts. Their all-sustaining conceit gave them abundant assurance that their movements must necessarily be all-pleasing to the celestials whose ears were open to the proceedings of the World's Convention. Deborah, Huldah, Vashti, and Esther might have questioned the propriety of calling it a World's Convention, when only half of humanity was represented there; but what were their opinions worth compared with those of the Rev. A. Harvey, the Rev. C. Stout, or the Rev. J. Burnet, who, Bible in hand, argued woman's subjection, divinely decreed when Eve was created.

One of our champions in the convention, George Bradburn, a tall thick-set man with a voice like thunder, standing head and shoulders above the clerical representatives, swept all their arguments aside by declaring with tremendous emphasis that, if they could prove to him that the Bible taught the entire subjection of one-half of the race to the other, he should consider that the best thing he could do for humanity would be to bring together every Bible in the universe and make a grand bonfire of them.

It was really pitiful to hear narrow-minded bigots, pretending to be teachers and leaders of men, so cruelly remanding their own mothers, with the rest of womankind, to absolute subjection to the ordinary masculine type of humanity. I always regretted that the women themselves had not taken part in the debate before the convention was fully organized and the question of delegates settled. It seemed to me then, and does now, that all delega

tes with credentials from recognized societies should have had a voice in the organization of the convention, though subject to exclusion afterward. However, the women sat in a low curtained seat like a church choir, and modestly listened to the French, British, and American Solons for twelve of the longest days in June, as did, also, our grand Garrison and Rogers in the gallery. They scorned a convention that ignored the rights of the very women who had fought, side by side, with them in the anti-slavery conflict. "After battling so many long years," said Garrison, "for the liberties of African slaves, I can take no part in a convention that strikes down the most sacred rights of all women." After coming three thousand miles to speak on the subject nearest his heart, he nobly shared the enforced silence of the rejected delegates. It was a great act of self-sacrifice that should never be forgotten by women.

Thomas Clarkson was chosen president of the convention and made a few remarks in opening, but he soon retired, as his age and many infirmities made all public occasions too burdensome, and Joseph Sturge, a Quaker, was made chairman. Sitting next to Mrs. Mott, I said:

"As there is a Quaker in the chair now, what could he do if the spirit should move you to speak?"

"Ah," she replied, evidently not believing such a contingency possible, "where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."

She had not much faith in the sincerity of abolitionists who, while eloquently defending the natural rights of slaves, denied freedom of speech to one-half the people of their own race. Such was the consistency of an assemblage of philanthropists! They would have been horrified at the idea of burning the flesh of the distinguished women present with red-hot irons, but the crucifixion of their pride and self-respect, the humiliation of the spirit, seemed to them a most trifling matter. The action of this convention was the topic of discussion, in public and private, for a long time, and stung many women into new thought and action and gave rise to the movement for women's political equality both in England and the United States.

As the convention adjourned, the remark was heard on all sides, "It is about time some demand was made for new liberties for women." As Mrs. Mott and I walked home, arm in arm, commenting on the incidents of the day, we resolved to hold a convention as soon as we returned home, and form a society to advocate the rights of women. At the lodging house on Queen Street, where a large number of delegates had apartments, the discussions were heated at every meal, and at times so bitter that, at last, Mr. Birney packed his valise and sought more peaceful quarters. Having strongly opposed the admission of women as delegates to the convention it was rather embarrassing to meet them, during the intervals between the various sessions, at the table and in the drawing room.

These were the first women I had ever met who believed in the equality of the sexes and who did not believe in the popular orthodox religion. The acquaintance of Lucretia Mott, who was a broad, liberal thinker on politics, religion, and all questions of reform, opened to me a new world of thought. As we walked about to see the sights of London, I embraced every opportunity to talk with her. It was intensely gratifying to hear all that, through years of doubt, I had dimly thought, so freely discussed by other women, some of them no older than myself-women, too, of rare intelligence, cultivation, and refinement. After six weeks' sojourn under the same roof with Lucretia Mott, whose conversation was uniformly on a high plane, I felt that I knew her too well to sympathize with the orthodox Friends, who denounced her as a dangerous woman because she doubted certain dogmas they fully believed.

As Mr. Birney and my husband were invited to speak all over England, Scotland, and Ireland, and we were uniformly entertained by orthodox Friends, I had abundant opportunity to know the general feeling among them toward Lucretia Mott. Even Elizabeth Fry seemed quite unwilling to breathe the same atmosphere with her. During the six weeks that many of us remained in London after the convention we were invited to a succession of public and private breakfasts, dinners, and teas, and on these occasions it was amusing to watch Mrs. Fry's sedulous efforts to keep Mrs. Mott at a distance. If Mrs. Mott was on the lawn, Mrs. Fry would go into the house; if Mrs. Mott was in the house, Mrs. Fry would stay out on the lawn. One evening, when we were all crowded into two parlors, and there was no escape, the word went round that Mrs. Fry felt moved to pray with the American delegates, whereupon a profound silence reigned. After a few moments Mrs. Fry's voice was heard deploring the schism among the American Friends; that sol many had been led astray by false doctrines; urging the Spirit of All Good to show them the error of their way, and gather them once more into the fold of the great Shepherd of our faith. The prayer was directed so pointedly at the followers of Elias Hicks, and at Lucretia Mott in particular, that I whispered to Lucretia, at the close, that she should now pray for Mrs. Fry, that her eyes might be opened to her bigotry and uncharitableness, and be led by the Spirit into higher light. "Oh, no!" she replied, "a prayer of this character, under the circumstances, is an unfair advantage to take of a stranger, but I would not resent it in the house of her friends."

In these gatherings we met the leading Quaker families and many other philanthropists of different denominations interested in the anti-slavery movement. On all these occasions our noble Garrison spoke most effectively, and thus our English friends had an opportunity of enjoying his eloquence, the lack of which had been so grave a loss in the convention.

We devoted a month sedulously to sightseeing in London, and, in the line of the traveler's duty, we explored St. Paul's Cathedral, the British Museum, the Tower, various prisons, hospitals, galleries of art, Windsor Castle, and St. James's Palace, the Zoological Gardens, the schools and colleges, the chief theaters and churches, Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, and the Courts. We heard the most famous preachers, actors, and statesmen. In fact, we went to the top and bottom of everything, from the dome of St. Paul to the tunnel under the Thames, just then in the process of excavation. We drove through the parks, sailed up and down the Thames, and then visited every shire but four in England, in all of which we had large meetings, Mr. Birney and Mr. Stanton being the chief speakers. As we were generally invited to stay with Friends, it gave us a good opportunity to see the leading families, such as the Ashursts, the Alexanders, the Priestmans, the Braithwaites, and Buxtons, the Gurneys, the Peases, the Wighams of Edinburgh, and the Webbs of Dublin. We spent a few days with John Joseph Gurney at his beautiful home in Norwich. He had just returned from America, having made a tour through the South. When asked how he liked America, he said, "I like everything but your pie crust and your slavery."

Before leaving London, the whole American delegation, about forty in number, were invited to dine with Samuel Gurney. He and his brother, John Joseph Gurney, were, at that time, the leading bankers in London. Someone facetiously remarked that the Jews were the leading bankers in London until the Quakers crowded them out.

One of the most striking women I met in England at this time was Miss Elizabeth Pease. I never saw a more strongly marked face. Meeting her, forty years after, on the platform of a great meeting in the Town Hall at Glasgow, I knew her at once. She is now Mrs. Nichol of Edinburgh, and, though on the shady side of eighty, is still active in all the reforms of the day.

It surprised us very much at first, when driving into the grounds of some of these beautiful Quaker homes, to have the great bell rung at the lodge, and to see the number of liveried servants on the porch and in the halls, and then to meet the host in plain garb, and to be welcomed in plain language, "How does thee do, Henry?" "How does thee do Elizabeth?" This sounded peculiarly sweet to me-a stranger in a strange land. The wealthy English Quakers we visited at that time, taking them all in all, were the most charming people I had ever seen. They were refined and intelligent on all subjects, and though rather conservative on some points, were not aggressive in pressing their opinions on others. Their hospitality was charming and generous, their homes the beau ideal of comfort and order, the cuisine faultless, while peace reigned over all. The quiet, gentle manner and the soft tones in speaking, and the mysterious quiet in these well-ordered homes were like the atmosphere one finds in a modern convent, where the ordinary duties of the day seem to be accomplished by some magical influence.

Before leaving London we spent a delightful day in June at the home of Samuel Gurney, surrounded by a fine park with six hundred deer roaming about-always a beautiful feature in the English landscape. As the Duchess of Sutherland and Lord Morpeth had expressed a wish to Mrs. Fry to meet some of the leading American abolitionists, it was arranged that they should call at her brother's residence on this occasion. Soon after we arrived, the Duchess, with her brother and Mrs. Fry, in her state carriage with six horses and outriders, drove up to the door. Mr. Gurney was evidently embarrassed at the prospect of a lord and a duchess under his roof. Leaning on the arm of Mrs. Fry, the duchess was formally introduced to us individually. Mrs. Mott conversed with the distinguished guests with the same fluency and composure as with her own countrywomen. However anxious the English people were as to what they should say and do, the Americans were all quite at their ease.

As Lord Morpeth had some interesting letters from the island of Jamaica to read to us, we formed a circle on the lawn to listen. England had just paid one hundred millions of dollars to emancipate the slaves, and we were all interested in hearing the result of the experiment. The distinguished guest in turn had many questions to ask in regard to American slavery. We found none of that prejudice against color in England which is so inveterate among the American people; at my first dinner in England I found myself beside a gentleman from Jamaica, as black as the ace of spades. After the departure of the duchess, dinner was announced. It was a sumptuous meal, most tastefully served. There were half a dozen wineglasses at every plate, but abolitionists, in those days, were all converts to temperance, and, as the bottles went around there was a general headshaking, and the right hand extended over the glasses. Our English friends were amazed that none of us drank wine. Mr. Gurney said he had never before seen such a sight as forty ladies and gentlemen sitting down to dinner and none of them tasting wine. In talking with him on that point, he said:

"I suppose your nursing mothers drink beer?"

I laughed, and said, "Oh, no! We should be afraid of befogging the brains of our children."

"No danger of that," said he; "we are all bright enough, and yet a cask of beer is rolled into the cellar for the mother with each newborn child."

Colonel Miller from Vermont, one of our American delegation, was in the Greek war with Lord Byron. As Lady Byron had expressed a wish to see him, that her daughter might know something of her father's last days, an interview was arranged, and the colonel kindly invited me to accompany him. His account of their acquaintance and the many noble traits of character Lord Byron manifested, his generous impulses and acts of self-sacrifice, seemed particularly gratifying to the daughter. It was a sad interview, arranged chiefly for the daughter's satisfaction, though Lady Byron listened with a painful interest. As the colonel was a warm admirer of the great poet, he no doubt represented him in the best possible light, and his narration of his last days was deeply interesting. Lady Byron had a quiet, reserved manner, a sad face, and a low, plaintive voice, like one who had known deep sorrow. I had seen her frequently in the convention and at social teas, and had been personally presented to her before this occasion. Altogether I thought her a sweet, attractive-looking woman.

We had a pleasant interview with Lord Brougham also. The Philadelphia Anti-slavery Society sent him an elaborately carved inkstand, made from the wood of Pennsylvania Hall, which was destroyed by a pro-slavery mob. Mr. Birney made a most graceful speech in presenting the memento, and Lord Brougham was equally happy in receiving it.

One of the most notable characters we met at this time was Daniel O'Connell. He made his first appearance in the London convention a few days after the women were rejected. He paid a beautiful tribute to woman and said that, if he had been present when the question was under discussion, he should have spoken and voted for their admission. He was a tall, well-developed, magnificent-looking man, and probably one of the most effective speakers Ireland ever produced. I saw him at a great India meeting in Exeter Hall, where some of the best orators from France, America, and England were present. There were six natives from India on the platform who, not understanding anything that was said, naturally remained listless throughout the proceedings. But the moment O'Connell began to speak they were all attention, bending forward and closely watching every movement. One could almost tell what he said from the play of his expressive features, his wonderful gestures, and the pose of his whole body. When he finished, the natives joined in the general applause. He had all Wendell Phillips' power of sarcasm and denunciation, and added to that the most tender pathos. He could make his audience laugh or cry at pleasure. It was a rare sight to see him dressed in "Repeal cloth" in one of his Repeal meetings. We were in Dublin in the midst of that excitement, when the hopes of new liberties for that oppressed people all centered on O'Connell. The enthusiasm of the people for the Repeal of the Union was then at white-heat. Dining one day with the "Great Liberator," as he was called, I asked him if he hoped to carry that measure.

"No," he said, "but it is always good policy to claim the uttermost and then you will be sure to get something."

Could he have looked forward fifty years and have seen the present condition of his unhappy country, he would have known that English greed and selfishness could defeat any policy, however wise and far-seeing. The successive steps by which Irish commerce was ruined and religious feuds between her people continually fanned into life, and the nation subjugated, form the darkest page in the history of England. But the people are awakening at last to their duty, and, for the first time, organizing English public sentiment in favor of "Home Rule." I attended several large, enthusiastic meetings when last in England, in which the most radical utterances of Irish patriots were received with prolonged cheers. I trust the day is not far off when the beautiful Emerald Isle will unfurl her banner before the nations of the earth, enthroned as the Queen Republic of those northern seas!

We visited Wordsworth's home at Grasmere, among the beautiful lakes, but he was not there. However, we saw his surroundings-the landscape that inspired some of his poetic dreams, and the dense rows of hollyhocks of every shade and color, leading from his porch to the gate. The gardener told us this was his favorite flower. Though it had no special beauty in itself, taken alone, yet the wonderful combination of royal colors was indeed striking and beautiful. We saw Harriet Martineau at her country home as well as at her house in town. As we were obliged to converse with her through an ear trumpet, we left her to do most of the talking. She gave us many amusing experiences of her travels in America, and her comments on the London Convention were rich and racy. She was not an attractive woman in either manner or appearance, though considered great and good by all who knew her.

We spent a few days with Thomas Clarkson, in Ipswich. He lived in a very old house with long rambling corridors, surrounded by a moat, which we crossed' by means of a drawbridge. He had just written an article against the colonization scheme, which his wife read aloud to us. He was so absorbed in the subject that he forgot the article was written by himself, and kept up a running applause with "hear!" "hear!" the English mode of expressing approbation. He told us of the severe struggles he and Wilberforce had gone through in rousing the public sentiment of England to the demand for emancipation in Jamaica. But their trials were mild, compared with what Garrison and his coadjutors had suffered in America.

Having read of all these people, it was difficult to realize, as I visited them in their own homes from day to day, that they were the same persons I had so long worshiped from afar!

* * *

(← Keyboard shortcut) Previous Contents (Keyboard shortcut →)
 Novels To Read Online Free

Scan the QR code to download MoboReader app.

Back to Top