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Full Online Book HomeNonfictionsSunny Memories Of Foreign Lands, Volume 2 - Letter 31
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Sunny Memories Of Foreign Lands, Volume 2 - Letter 31 Post by :Ndoki Category :Nonfictions Author :Harriet Beecher Stowe Date :May 2012 Read :3898

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Sunny Memories Of Foreign Lands, Volume 2 - Letter 31



At last I have come into dreamland; into the lotus-eater's paradise; into the land where it is always afternoon. I am released from care; I am unknown, unknowing; I live in a house whose arrangements seem to me strange, old, and dreamy. In the heart of a great city I am as still as if in a convent; in the burning heats of summer our rooms are shadowy and cool as a cave. My time is all my own. I may at will lie on a sofa, and dreamily watch the play of the leaves and flowers, in the little garden into which my room opens; or I may go into the parlor adjoining, whence I hear the quick voices of my beautiful and vivacious young friends. You ought to see these girls. Emma might look like a Madonna, were it not for her wicked wit; and as to Anna and Lizzie, as they glance by me, now and then, I seem to think them a kind of sprite, or elf, made to inhabit shady old houses, just as twinkling harebells grow in old castles; and then the gracious mamma, who speaks French, or English, like a stream of silver--is she not, after all, the fairest of any of them? And there is Caroline, piquant, racy, full of conversation--sharp as a quartz crystal: how I like to hear her talk! These people know Paris, as we say in America, "like a book." They have studied it aesthetically, historically, socially. They have studied French people and French literature,--and studied it with enthusiasm, as people ever should, who would truly understand. They are all kindness to me. Whenever I wish to see any thing, I have only to speak; or to know, I have only to ask. At breakfast every morning we compare notes, and make up our list of wants. My first, of course, was the Louvre. It is close by us. Think of it. To one who has starved all a life, in vain imaginings of what art might be, to know that you are within a stone's throw of a museum full of its miracles, Greek, Assyrian, Egyptian, Roman sculptors and modern painting, all there!

I scarcely consider myself to have seen any thing of art in England. The calls of the living world were so various and _exigeant_, I had so little leisure for reflection, that, although I saw many paintings, I could not study them; and many times I saw them in a state of the nervous system too jaded and depressed to receive the full force of the impression. A day or two before I left, I visited the National Gallery, and made a rapid survey of its contents. There were two of Turner's masterpieces there, which he presented on the significant condition that they should hang side by side with their two finest Claudes. I thought them all four fine pictures, but I liked the Turners best. Yet I did not think any of them fine enough to form an absolute limit to human improvement. But, till I had been in Paris a day or two, perfectly secluded, at full liberty to think and rest, I did not feel that my time for examining art had really come.

It was, then, with a thrill almost of awe that I approached the Louvre. Here, perhaps, said I to myself, I shall answer, fully, the question that has long wrought within my soul, What is art? and what can it do? Here, perhaps, these yearnings for the ideal will meet their satisfaction. The ascent to the picture gallery tends to produce a flutter of excitement and expectation. Magnificent staircases, dim perspectives of frescoes and carvings, the glorious hall of Apollo, rooms with mosaic pavements, antique vases, countless spoils of art, dazzle the eye of the neophyte, and prepare the mind for some grand enchantment. Then opens on one the grand hall of paintings arranged by schools, the works of each artist by themselves, a wilderness of gorgeous growths.

I first walked through the whole, offering my mind up aimlessly to see if there were any picture there great and glorious enough to seize and control my whole being, and answer, at once, the cravings of the poetic and artistic element. For any such I looked in vain. I saw a thousand beauties, as also a thousand enormities, but nothing of that overwhelming, subduing nature which I had conceived. Most of the men there had painted with dry eyes and cool hearts, thinking only of the mixing of their colors and the jugglery of their art, thinking little of heroism, faith, love, or immortality. Yet when I had resigned this longing; when I was sure I should not meet there what I sought, then I began to enjoy very heartily what there was.

In the first place, I now saw Claudes worthy of the reputation he bore. Three or four of these were studied with great delight; the delight one feels, who, conscientiously bound to be delighted, suddenly comes into a situation to be so. I saw, now, those atmospheric traits, those reproductions of the mysteries of air, and of light, which are called so wonderful, and for which all admire Claude, but for which so few admire Him who made Claude, and who every day creates around us, in the commonest scenes, effects far more beautiful. How much, even now, my admiration of Claude was genuine, I cannot say. How can we ever be sure on this point, when we admire what has prestige and sanction, not to admire which is an argument against ourselves? Certainly, however, I did feel great delight in some of these works.

One of my favorites was Rembrandt. I always did admire the gorgeous and solemn mysteries of his coloring. Rembrandt is like Hawthorne. He chooses simple and everyday objects, and so arranges light and shadow as to give them a sombre richness and a mysterious gloom. The House of Seven Gables is a succession of Rembrandt pictures, done in words instead of oils. Now, this pleases us, because our life really is a haunted one; the simplest thing in it is a mystery, the invisible world always lies round us like a shadow, and therefore this dreamy golden gleam of Rembrandt meets somewhat in our inner consciousness to which it corresponds. There were no pictures in the gallery which I looked upon so long, and to which I returned so often and with such growing pleasure, as these. I found in them, if not a commanding, a drawing influence, a full satisfaction for one part of my nature.

There were Raphaels there, which still disappointed me, because from Raphael I asked and expected more. I wished to feel his hand on my soul with a stronger grasp; these were too passionless in their serenity, and almost effeminate in their tenderness.

But Rubens, the great, joyous, full-souled, all-powerful Rubens!--there he was, full as ever of triumphant, abounding life; disgusting and pleasing; making me laugh and making me angry; defying me to dislike him; dragging me at his chariot wheels; in despite of my protests forcing me to confess that there was no other but he.

This Medici gallery is a succession of gorgeous allegoric paintings, done at the instance of Mary of Medici, to celebrate the praise and glory of that family. I was predetermined not to like them for two reasons: first, that I dislike allegorical subjects; and second, that I hate and despise that Medici family and all that belongs to them. So no sympathy with the subjects blinded my eyes, and drew me gradually from all else in the hall to contemplate these. It was simply the love of power and of fertility that held me astonished, which seemed to express with nonchalant ease what other painters attain by laborious efforts. It occurred to me that other painters are famous for single heads, or figures, and that were the striking heads and figures with which these pictures abound to be parcelled out singly, any one of them would make a man's reputation. Any animal of Rubens, alone, would make a man's fortune in that department. His fruits and flowers are unrivalled for richness and abundance; his old men's Leads are wonderful; and when he chooses, which he does not often, he can even create a pretty woman. Generally speaking his women are his worst productions. It would seem that he had revolted with such fury from the meagre, pale, cadaverous outlines of womankind painted by his predecessors, the Van Eyks, whose women resembled potato sprouts grown in a cellar, that he altogether overdid the matter in the opposite direction. His exuberant soul abhors leanness as Nature abhors a vacuum; and hence all his women seem bursting their bodices with fulness, like overgrown carnations breaking out of their green calyxes. He gives you Venuses with arms fit to wield the hammer of Vulcan; vigorous Graces whose dominion would be alarming were they indisposed to clemency. His weakness, in fact, his besetting sin, is too truly described by Moses:--

"But Jeshurun waxed fat and kicked;
Thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick,
Thou art covered with fatness."

Scornfully he is determined upon it; he will none of your scruples; his women shall be fat as he pleases, and you shall like him nevertheless.

In this Medici gallery the fault appears less prominent than elsewhere. Many of the faces are portraits, and there are specimens among them of female beauty, so delicate as to demonstrate that it was not from any want of ability to represent the softer graces that he so often becomes hard and coarse. My friend, M. Belloc, made the remark that the genius of Rubens was somewhat restrained in these pictures, and chastened by the rigid rules of the French school, and hence in them he is more generally pleasing.

I should compare Rubens to Shakspeare, for the wonderful variety and vital force of his artistic power. I know no other mind he so nearly resembles. Like Shakspeare, he forces you to accept and to forgive a thousand excesses, and uses his own faults as musicians use discords, only to enhance the perfection of harmony. There certainly is some use even in defects. A faultless style sends you to sleep. Defects rouse and excite the sensibility to seek and appreciate excellences. Some of Shakspeare's finest passages explode all grammar and rhetoric like skyrockets--the thought blows the language to shivers.

As to Murillo, there are two splendid specimens of his style here, as exquisite as any I have seen; but I do not find reason to alter the judgment I made from my first survey.

Here is his celebrated picture of the Assumption of the Virgin, which we have seen circulated in print shops in America, but which appears of a widely different character in the painting. The Virgin is rising in a flood of amber light, surrounded by clouds and indistinct angel figures. She is looking upward with clasped hands, as in an ecstasy: the crescent moon is beneath her feet. The whole tone of the picture-- the clouds, the drapery, her flowing hair--are pervaded with this amber tint, sublimated and spiritual. Do I, then, like it? No. Does it affect me? Not at all. Why so? Because this is a subject requiring earnestness; yet, after all, there is no earnestness of religious feeling expressed. It is a _surface picture, exquisitely painted--the feeling goes no deeper than the canvas. But how do I know Murillo has no earnestness in the religious idea of this piece? How do I know, when reading Pope's Messiah, that _he was not in earnest--that he was only most exquisitely reproducing what others had thought? Does he not assume, in the most graceful way, the language of inspiration and holy rapture? But, through it all, we feel the satisfied smirk of the artist, and the fine, sharp touch of his diamond file. What is done from a genuine, strong, inward emotion, whether in writing or painting, always mesmerizes the paper, or the canvas, and gives it a power which every body must feel, though few know why. The reason why the Bible has been omnipotent, in all ages, has been because there were the emotions of GOD in it; and of paintings nothing is more remarkable than that some preserve in them such a degree of genuine vital force that one can never look on them with indifference; while others, in which every condition of art seems to be met, inspire no strong emotion.

Yet this picture is immensely popular. Hundreds stand enchanted before it, and declare it imbodies their highest ideal of art and religion; and I suppose it does. But so it always is. The man who has exquisite gifts of expression passes for more, popularly, than the man with great and grand ideas who utters but imperfectly. There are some pictures here by Correggio--a sleeping Venus and Cupid--a marriage of the infant Jesus and St. Catharine. This Correggio is the poet of physical beauty. Light and shadow are his god. What he lives for is, to catch and reproduce fitting phases of these. The moral is nothing to him, and, in his own world, he does what he seeks. He is a great popular favorite, since few look for more in a picture than exquisite beauty understood between us that his sphere is to be earth, and not heaven; were he to attempt, profanely, to represent heavenly things, I must rebel. I should as soon want Tom Moore to write me a prayer book.

A large saloon is devoted to the masters of the French school. The works of no living artists are admitted. There are some large paintings by David. He is my utter aversion. I see in him nothing but the driest imitation of the classics. It would be too much praise to call it reproduction. David had neither heart nor soul. How could he be and artist?--he who coolly took his portfolio to the guillotine to take lessons on the dying agonies of its victims--how could he ever paint any thing to touch the heart?

In general, all French artists appear to me to have been very much injured by a wrong use of classic antiquity. Nothing could be more glorious and beautiful than the Grecian development; nothing more unlike it that the stale, wearisome, repetitious imitations of it in modern times. The Greek productions themselves have a living power to this day; but all imitations of them are cold and tiresome. These old Greeks made such beautiful things, because they did _not imitate. That mysterious vitality which still imbues their remains, and which seems to enchant even the fragments of their marbles, is the mesmeric vitality of fresh, original conception. Art, built upon this, is just like what the shadow of a beautiful woman is to the woman. One gets tired in these galleries of the classic band, and the classic headdress, and the classic attitude, and the endless repetition of the classic urn, and vase, and lamp, as if nothing else were ever to be made in the world except these things.

Again: in regard to this whole French gallery, there is much of a certain quality which I find it very difficult to describe in any one word--a dramatic smartness, a searching for striking and peculiar effects, which render the pictures very likely to please on first sight, and to weary on longer acquaintance. It seems to me to be the work of a race whose senses and perceptions of the outward have been cultivated more than the deep inward emotions. Few of the pictures seem to have been the result of strong and profound feeling, of habits of earnest and concentrated thought. There is an abundance of beautiful little phases of sentiment, pointedly expressed; there is a great deal of what one should call the picturesque of the _morale; but few of its foundation ideas. I must except from these remarks the very strong and earnest painting of the Meduse, by Gericault, which C. has described. That seems to me to be the work of a man who had not seen human life and suffering merely on the outside, but had felt, in the very depths of his soul, the surging and earthquake of those mysteries of passion and suffering which underlie our whole existence in this world. To me it was a picture too mighty and too painful--whose power I confessed, but which I did not like to contemplate.

On the whole, French painting is to me an exponent of the great difficulty and danger of French life; that passion for the outward and visible, which all their education, all the arrangements of their social life, every thing in their art and literature, tends continually to cultivate and increase. Hence they have become the leaders of the world in what I should call the minor artistics--all those little particulars which render life beautiful. Hence there are more pretty pictures, and popular lithographs, from France than from any other country in the world; but it produces very little of the deepest and highest style of art.

In this connection I may as well give you my Luxembourg experience, as it illustrates the same idea. I like Paul de la Roche, on the whole, although I think he has something of the fault of which I speak. He has very great dramatic power; but it is more of the kind shown by Walter Scott than of the kind shown by Shakspeare. He can reproduce historical characters with great vividness and effect, and with enough knowledge of humanity to make the verisimilitude admirably strong; but as to the deep knowledge with which Shakspeare searches the radical elements of the human soul, he has it not. His Death of Queen Elizabeth is a strong Walter Scott picture; so are his Execution of Strafford, and his Charles I., which I saw in England.

As to Horace Vernet, I do not think he is like either Scott or Shakspeare. In him this French capability for rendering the outward is wrought to the highest point; and it is outwardness as pure from any touch of inspiration or sentiment as I ever remember to have seen. He is graphic to the utmost extreme. His horses and his men stand from the canvas to the astonishment of all beholders. All is vivacity, bustle, dazzle, and show. I think him as perfect, of his kind, as possible; though it is a _kind of art with which I do not sympathize.

The picture of the Decadence de Rome indicates to my mind a painter who has studied and understood the classical forms; vitalizing them, by the reproductive force of his own mind, so as to give them the living power of new creations. In this picture is a most grand and melancholy moral lesson. The classical forms are evidently not introduced because they are classic, but in subservience to the expression of the moral. In the orgies of the sensualists here represented he gives all the grace and beauty of sensuality without its sensualizing effect. Nothing could be more exquisite than the introduction of the busts of the departed heroes of the old republic, looking down from their pedestals on the scene of debauchery below. It is a noble picture, which I wish was hung up in the Capitol of our nation to teach our haughty people that as pride, and fulness of bread, and laxness of principle brought down the old republics, so also ours may fall. Although the outward in this painting, and the classical, is wrought to as fine a point as in any French picture, it is so subordinate to the severity of the thought, that while it pleases it does not distract.

But to return to the Louvre. The halls devoted to paintings, of which I have spoken, give you very little idea of the treasures of the institution. Gallery after gallery is filled with Greek, Roman, Assyrian, and Egyptian sculptures, coins, vases, and antique remains of every description. There is, also, an apartment in which I took a deep interest, containing the original sketches of ancient masters. Here one may see the pen and ink drawings of Claude, divided into squares to prepare them for the copyist. One compares here with interest the manners of the different artists in jotting down their ideas as they rose; some by chalk, some by crayon, some by pencil, some by water colors, and some by a heterogeneous mixture of all. Mozart's scrap bag of musical jottings could not have been more amusing.

On the whole, cravings of mere ideality have come nearer to meeting satisfaction by some of these old mutilated remains of Greek sculpture than any thing which I have met yet. In the paintings, even of the most celebrated masters, there are often things which are excessively annoying to me. I scarcely remember a master in whose works I have not found a hand, or foot, or face, or feature so distorted, or coloring at times so unnatural, or something so out of place and proportion in the picture as very seriously to mar the pleasure that I derived from it. In this statuary less is attempted, and all is more harmonious, and one's ideas of proportion are never violated.

My favorite among all these remains is a mutilated statue which they call the Venus de Milon. This is a statue which is so called from having been dug up some years ago, piecemeal, in the Island of Milos. There was quite a struggle for her between a French naval officer, the English, and the Turks. The French officer carried her off like another Helen, and she was given to Paris, old Louis Philippe being bridegroom by proxy. _Savans refer the statue to the time of Phidias; and as this is a pleasant idea to me, I go a little further, and ascribe her to Phidias himself.

The statue is much mutilated, both arms being gone, and part of the foot. But there is a majesty and grace in the head and face, a union of loveliness with intellectual and moral strength, beyond any thing which I have ever seen. To me she might represent Milton's glorious picture of unfallen, perfect womanhood, in his Eve:--

"Yet when I approach
Her loveliness, so absolute she seems,
And in herself complete, so well to know
Her own, that what she wills to do or say
Seems wisest, virtuousest, discreetest, best.
All higher knowledge in her presence falls
Degraded; wisdom, in discourse with her,
Loses discountenanced, and like folly shows.
Authority and reason on her wait,
As one intended first, not after made
Occasionally; and to consummate all,
Greatness of mind, and nobleness, their seat
Build in her, loveliest, and create an awe
About her, like a guard angelic placed."

Compared with this matchless Venus, that of Medici seems as inane and trifling as mere physical beauty always must by the side of beauty baptized, and made sacramental, as the symbol of that which alone is truly fair.

With regard to the arrangements of the Louvre, they seem to me to be admirable. No nation has so perfectly the qualifications to care for, keep, and to show to best advantage a gallery of art as the French.

During the heat of the outburst that expelled Louis Philippe from the throne, the Louvre was in some danger of destruction. Destructiveness is a native element of human nature, however repressed by society; and hence every great revolutionary movement always brings to the surface some who are for indiscriminate demolition. Moreover there is a strong tendency in the popular mind, where art and beauty have for many years been monopolized as the prerogative of a haughty aristocracy, to identify art and beauty with oppression; this showed itself in England and Scotland in the general storm which wrecked the priceless beauty of the ecclesiastical buildings. It was displaying itself in the same manner in Germany during the time of the reformation, and had not Luther been gifted with a nature as strongly aesthetic as progressive, would have wrought equal ruin there. So in the first burst of popular enthusiasm that expelled the monarchy, the cry was raised by some among the people, "We shall never get rid of kings till we pull down the palaces;" just the echo of the old cry in Scotland, "Pull down the nests, and the rooks will fly away." The populace rushed in to the splendid halls and saloons of the Louvre, and a general encampment was made among the pictures. In this crisis a republican artist named Jeanron saved the Louvre; saved the people the regret that must have come over them had they perpetrated barbarisms, and Liberty the shame of having such outrages wrought in her name. Appointed by the provisional government to the oversight of the Louvre, and well known among the people as a republican, he boldly came to the rescue. "Am I not one of you?" he said. "Am I not one of the people? These splendid works of art, are they not ours? Are they not the pride and glory of our country? Shall we destroy our most glorious possession in the first hour of its passing into our hands?"

Moved by his eloquence the people decamped from the building, and left it in his hands. Empowered to make all such arrangements for its renovation and embellishment as his artistic taste should desire, he conducted important repairs in the building, rearranged the halls, had the pictures carefully examined, cleaned when necessary, and distributed in schools with scientific accuracy. He had an apartment prepared where are displayed those first sketches by distinguished masters, which form one of the most instructive departments of the Louvre to a student of art. The government seconded all his measures by liberal supplies of money; and the Louvre is placed in its present perfect condition by the thoughtful and cherishing hand of the republic.

These facts have been communicated to me from a perfectly reliable source. As an American, and a republican, I cannot but take pleasure in them. I mention them because it is often supposed, from the destructive effects which attend the first advent of democratic principles where they have to explode their way into existence through masses of ancient rubbish, that popular liberty is unfavorable to art. It never could be so in France, because the whole body of the people are more thoroughly artistic in their tastes and feelings than in most countries. They are almost slaves to the outwardly beautiful, taken captive by the eye and the ear, and only the long association of beauty with tyranny, with suffering, want, and degradation to themselves, could ever have inspired any of them with even a momentary bitterness against it.



Monday, June 13. Went this morning with H. and Mrs. C. to the studio of M. Belloc. Found a general assembly of heads, arms, legs, and every species of nude and other humanity pertaining to a studio; also an agreeable jumble of old pictures and new, picture frames, canvas, brushes, boxes, unfinished sketches, easels, palettes, a sofa, some cushions, a chair or two, bottles, papers, a stove rusty and fireless, and all things most charmingly innocent of any profane "clarin' up times" whatsoever.

The first question which M. Belloc proposed, with a genuine French air, was the question of "_pose_" or position. It was concluded that as other pictures had taken H. looking at the spectator, this should take her looking away. M. Belloc remarked, that M. Charpentier said H. appeared always with the air of an observer--was always looking around on every thing. Hence M. Belloc would take her "_en observatrice, mais pas en curieuse_"--with the air of observation, but not of curiosity.

At it he went. I stood behind and enjoyed. Rapid creative sketching in chalk and charcoal. Then a chaos of colors and clouds, put on now with brushes, now with fingers. "God began with chaos," said he, quoting Prudhon. "We cannot expect to do better than God."

With intensest enjoyment I watched the chaotic clouds forming on the canvas round a certain nucleus, gradually resolving themselves into shape, and lightening up with tints and touches, until a head seemed slowly emerging from amidst the shadows.

Meanwhile, an animated conversation was proceeding. M. Belloc, in his rich, glorious French, rolling out like music from an organ, discussed the problems of his art; while we ever and anon excited him by our speculations, our theories, our heresies. H. talked in English, and Mrs. C. translated, and I put in a French phrase sidewise every now and then.

By and by, M. Charpentier came in, who is more voluble, more _ore rotundo, grandiose_, than M. Belloc. He began panegyrizing Uncle Tom; and this led to a discussion of the ground of its unprecedented success. In his thirty-five years' experience as a bookseller, he had known nothing like it. It surpassed all modern writers. At first he would not read it; his taste was for old masters of a century or two ago. "Like M. Belloc in painting," said I. At length, he found his friend, M. Alfred de Musee, the first intelligence of the age, reading it.

"What, you too?" said he.

"Ah, ah!" said De Musee; "say nothing about this book! There is nothing like it. This leaves us all behind--all, all, miles behind!"

M. Belloc said the reason was because there was in it more _genuine faith than in any book. And we branched off into florid eloquence touching paganism, Christianity, and art.

"Christianity," M. Belloc said, "has ennobled man, but not made him happier. The Christian is not so happy as the old Greek. The old Greek mythology is full of images of joy, of lightness, and vivacity; nymphs and fauns, dryads and hamadryads, and all sportive creations. The arts that grow up out of Christianity are all tinged with sorrow."

"This is true in part," replied H., "because the more you enlarge a person's general capacity of feeling, and his quantity of being, the more you enlarge his capacity of suffering. A man can suffer more than an oyster. Christianity, by enlarging the scope of man's heart, and dignifying his nature, has deepened his sorrow."

M. Belloc referred to the paintings of Eustache le Soeur, in the Louvre, in illustration of his idea--a series based on the experience of St. Bruno, and representing the effects of maceration and ghostly penance with revolting horrors.

"This," H. replied, "is not my idea of Christianity. Religion is not asceticism, but a principle of love to God that beautifies and exalts common life, and fills it with joy."

M. Belloc ended with a splendid panegyric upon the ancient Greeks, the eloquence of which I will not mar by attempting to repeat.

Ever and anon H. was amused at the pathetic air, at once genuinely French and thoroughly sincere, with which the master assured her, that he was "_desole_" to put her to so much trouble.

As to Christianity not making men happier, methinks M. Belloc forgets that the old Greek tragedies are filled with despair and gloom, as their prevailing characteristic, and that nearly all the music of the world before Christ was in the minor scale, as since Christ it has come to be in the major. The whole creation has, indeed, groaned and travailed in pain together until now; but the mighty anthem has modulated since the cross, and the requiem of Jesus has been the world's birthsong of approaching jubilee.

Music is a far better test, moreover, on such a point, than painting, for just where painting is weakest, namely, in the expression of the highest moral and spiritual ideas, there music is most sublimely strong.

Altogether this morning in the painter's studio was one of the most agreeable we ever spent. But what shall I say then of the evening in a _salon musicale_; with the first violoncello playing in the world, and the Princess Czartoryski at the piano? We were invited at eight, but it was nine before we entered our carriage. We arrived at the hotel of Mrs. Erskine, a sister of Lord Dundalk, and found a very select party. There were chairs and sofas enough for all without crowding.

There was Frankomm of the Conservatoire, with his Stradivarius, an instrument one hundred and fifty years old, which cost six thousand dollars. There was his son, a little lad of twelve, who played almost as well as his father. I wish F. and M. could have seen this. He was but a year older than F., and yet played with the most astonishing perfection. Among other things the little fellow performed a _morceau of his own composition, which was full of pathos, and gave tokens of uncommon ability. His father gave us sonatas of Mozart, Chopin, &c., and a _polonaise_. The Princess Czartoryski accompanied on the piano with extraordinary ability.

That was an evening to be remembered a lifetime. One heard, probably, the best music in the world of its kind, performed under prepared circumstances, the most perfectly adapted to give effect. There was no whispering, no noise. All felt, and heard, and enjoyed. I conversed with the princess and with Frankomm. The former speaks English, the latter none. I interpreted for H., and she had quite a little conversation with him about his son, and about music. She told him she hoped the day was coming when art would be consecrated to express the best and purest emotions of humanity. He had read Uncle Tom; and when he read it he exclaimed, "This is genuine Christianity"--"_Ceci est la vraie Christianisme!_"

The attentions shown to H. were very touching and agreeable. There is nothing said or done that wearies or oppresses her. She is made to feel perfectly free, at large, at ease; and the regard felt for her is manifested in a way so delicate, so imperceptibly fine and considerate, that she is rather strengthened by it than exhausted. This is owing, no doubt, to the fact that we came determined to be as private as possible, and with an explicit understanding with Mrs. C. to that effect. Instead of trying to defeat her purpose, and force her into publicity, the few who know of her presence seem to try to help her carry it out, and see how much they can do for her, consistently therewith.

Tuesday, June 14. To-day we dined at six P. M., and read till nine. Then drove to an evening _salon_--quite an early little party at Mrs. Putnam's. Saw there Peter Parley and La Rochejaquelin, the only one of the old nobility that joined Louis Napoleon. Peter Parley is consul no longer, it seems. We discussed the empire a very little. "To be, or not to be, that is the question." Opinions are various as the circles. Every circle draws into itself items of information, that tend to indicate what it wishes to be about to happen. Still, Peter Parley and I, and some other equally cautious people, think that _this cannot always last. By _this_, of course, we mean this "thing"--this empire, so called. Sooner or later it must end in revolution; and then what? Said a gentleman the other day, "Nothing holds him up but fear of the RED." (Footnote: That is, fear of the Red Republicans.)

After chatting a while, Weston and I slipped out, and drove to the Jardin Mabille, a garden in the Champs Elysees, whither thousands go every night. We entered by an avenue of poplars and other trees and shrubs, so illuminated by jets of gas sprinkled amongst the foliage as to give it the effect of enchantment. It was neither moonlight nor daylight, but a kind of spectral aurora, that made every thing seem unearthly.

As we entered the garden, we found flower beds laid out in circles, squares, lozenges, and every conceivable form, with diminutive jets of gas so distributed as to imitate flowers of the softest tints, and the most perfect shape. This, too, seemed unearthly, weird. We seemed, in an instant, transported into some Thalaba's cave, infinitely beyond the common sights and sounds of every-day life. In the centre of these grounds there is a circle of pillars, on the top of each of which is a pot of flowers, with gas jets, and between them an arch of gas jets. This circle is very large. In the midst of it is another circle, forming a pavilion for musicians, also brilliantly illuminated, and containing a large cotillion band of the most finished performers.

Around this you find thousands of gentlemen and ladies strolling singly, in pairs, or in groups. There could not be less than three thousand persons present. While the musicians repose, they loiter, sauntering round, or recline on seats.

But now a lively waltz strikes the ear. In an instant twenty or thirty couples are whirling along, floating, like thistles in the wind, around the central pavilion. Their feet scarce touch the smooth-trodden earth. Round and round, in a vortex of life, beauty, and brilliancy they go, a whirlwind of delight. Eyes sparkling, cheeks flushing, and gauzy draperies floating by; while the crowds outside gather in a ring, and watch the giddy revel. There are countless forms of symmetry and grace, faces of wondrous beauty, both among the dancers and among the spectators.

There, too, are feats of agility and elasticity quite aerial. One lithe and active dancer grasped his fair partner by the waist. She was dressed in a red dress; was small, elastic, agile, and went by like the wind. And now and then, in the course of every few seconds, he would give her a whirl and a lift, sending her spinning through the air, around himself as an axis, full four feet from the ground.

Then the music ceases, the crowd dissolves, and floats and saunters away. On every hand are games of hazard and skill, with balls, tops, wheels, &c., where, for five cents a trial, one might seek to gain a choice out of glittering articles exposed to view.

Then the band strike up again, and the whirling dance renews its vortex; and so it goes on, from hour to hour, till two or three in the morning. Not that _we staid till then; we saw all we wanted to see, and left by eleven. But it is a scene perfectly unearthly, or rather perfectly Parisian, and just as earthly as possible; yet a scene where earthliness is worked up into a style of sublimation the most exquisite conceivable.

Entrance to this paradise can be had for, gentlemen, a dollar; ladies, _free_. This tells the whole story. Nevertheless, do not infer that there are not any respectable ladies there. It is a place so remarkable, that very few strangers stay long in Paris without taking a look at it. And though young ladies residing in Paris never go, and matrons very seldom, yet occasionally it is the case that some ladies of respectability look in. The best dancers, those who exhibit such surprising feats of skill and agility, are _professional_--paid by the establishment.

Nevertheless, aside from the impropriety inherent in the very nature of waltzing, there was not a word, look, or gesture of immorality or impropriety. The dresses were all decent; and if there was vice, it was vice masked under the guise of polite propriety.

How different, I could not but reflect, is all this from the gin palaces of London! There, there is indeed a dazzling splendor of gas light. But there is nothing artistic, nothing refined, nothing appealing to the imagination. There are only hogsheads, and barrels, and the appliances for serving out strong drink. And there, for one sole end, the swallowing of fiery stimulant, come the nightly thousands--from the gay and well dressed, to the haggard and tattered, in the last stage of debasement. The end is the same--by how different paths! Here, they dance along the path to ruin, with flowers and music; there, they cast themselves bodily, as it were, into the lake of fire.

Wednesday, June 15. Went in the forenoon to M. Belloc's studio, and read while H. was sitting.

Then we drove to Madame Roger's, who is one of the leaders of Paris taste and legislation in dress, and who is said to have refused to work for a duchess who neglected to return her husband's bow. I sat in the outer courts while some mysterious affairs were being transacted in the inner rooms of state.

Then we drove to the Louvre, and visited the remains from Nineveh. They are fewer in number than those in the British Museum, which I have not yet seen. But the pair of human-headed, winged bulls are said to be equal in size to any.

I was very much impressed, not only by the solemn grandeur of the thought that thirty centuries were looking down upon me out of those stony eyes, but by what I have never seen noticed, the magnificent phrenological development of the heads. The brow is absolutely prodigious--broad, high, projecting, massive. It is the brow of a divinity indeed, or of a cherub, which I am persuaded is the true designation of these creatures. They are to me but the earliest known attempts to preserve the cherubim that formed the fiery portals of the Eden temple until quenched in the Purges of the deluge.

Out of those eyes of serene, benign, profound reflection, therefore, not thirty, but sixty centuries look down upon me. I seem to be standing at those mysterious Eden gates, where Adam and Eve first guided the worship of a world, amid the sad, yet sublime symbols of a previous existence in heavenly realms.

After leaving the Louvre H. and I took a _caleche_, or open two-seat carriage, and drove from thence to the Madeleine, and thence the whole length of the Boulevards, circling round, crossing the Pont d'Austerlitz, and coming back by the Avenue de l'Observatoire and the Luxembourg.

Then we saw theatres, the Port St. Denis, Port St. Martin, the site of the Bastille, and the most gay, beautiful, and bustling boulevards of the metropolis.

As we were proceeding along the Boulevard des Italiens, I saw the street beginning to line with people, the cabs and carriages drawing to either side and stopping; police officers commanding, directing, people running, pushing, looking this way and that. "_Qu' y a-t-il?_" said I, standing up by the driver--"What's the matter?"

"The emperor is coming," said he.

"Well," said I, "draw to one side, and turn a little, so that we can see."

He did so, and H. and I both stood up, looking round. We saw several outriders in livery, on the full trot, followed by several carriages. They came very fast, the outriders calling to the people to get out of the way. In the first carriage sat the emperor and the empress--he, cold, stiff, stately, and homely; she, pale, beautiful, and sad. They rode not two rods from us. There was not a hat taken off, not a single shout, not a "_Vive l'Empereur_? Without a single token of greeting or applause, he rode through the ever-forming, ever-dissolving avenue of people--the abhorred, the tolerated tyrant." Why do they not cry out?" I said to the coachman, "Why do they not cry, '_Vive l'Empereur_'?" A most expressive shrug was the answer, and "I do not know. I suppose, because they do not choose."

Thursday, June 16. Immediately after breakfast we were to visit Chateau de Corbeville. The carriage came, and H., Mrs. C., and W. entered. I mounted the box with the "_cocker_," as usual. To be shut up in a box, and peep out at the window while driving through such scenes, is horrible. By the way, our party would have been larger, but for the arrest of Monsieur F., an intimate friend of the family, which took place at five o'clock in the morning.

He was here yesterday in fine spirits, and he and his wife were to have joined our party. His arrest is on some political suspicion, and as the result cannot be foreseen, it casts a shadow over the spirits of our household.

We drove along through the bright, fresh morning--I enjoying the panorama of Paris exceedingly--to the Western Railway Station, where we took tickets for Versailles.

We feel as much at home now, in these continental railroad stations, as in our own--nay, more so. Every thing is so regulated here, there is almost no possibility of going wrong, and there is always somebody at hand whose business it is to be very polite, and tell you just what to do.

A very pleasant half hour's ride brought us to Versailles. There we took a barouche for the day, and started for the chateau. In about an hour and a half, through very pleasant scenery, we came to the spot, where we were met by Madame V. and her daughter, and, alighting, walked to the chateau through a long avenue, dark with overarching trees. We were to have a second breakfast at about one o'clock in the day; so we strolled out to a seat on the terrace, commanding a fine and very extensive prospect.

Madame V. is the wife of an eminent lawyer, who held the office of intendant of the civil list of Louis Philippe, and has had the settlement of that gentleman's pecuniary affairs since his death. At the time of the _coup d'etat_, being then a representative, he was imprisoned, and his wife showed considerable intrepidity in visiting him, walking on foot through the prison yard, amongst the soldiers sitting drunk on the cannon. At present Monsieur V. is engaged in his profession in Paris.

Madame V. is a pleasant-looking French woman, of highly-cultivated mind and agreeable manners; accomplished in music and in painting. Her daughter, about fifteen, plays well, and is a good specimen of a well-educated French demoiselle, not yet out. They are simply ciphers, except as developed in connection with and behind shelter of their mother. She performed some beautiful things beautifully, and then her mother played a duet with her. We took a walk through the groves, and sat on the bank, on the brow of a commanding eminence.

A wide landscape was before us, characterized by every beauty of foliage conceivable, but by none more admirable, to my eye, than the poplars, which sustain the same relation to French scenery that spruces do to that of Maine. Reclining there, we could almost see, besides the ancient territory of the Duke d'Orsay, the celebrated valley of Chartreuse, where was the famous Abbey of Port Royal, a valley filled with historic associations. If it had not been for a hill which stood in the way, we should have seen it. At our leisure we discussed painting. Before us, a perfect landscape; around us, a deep solitude and stillness, broken by the sighing of ancient aristocratic shades, and the songs of birds; within us, emotions of lassitude and dreamy delight.

We had found a spot where existence was a blessing; a spot where to exist was enough; where the "to be" was, for a moment, disjoined from the inexorable "to do," or "to suffer." How agreeable to converse with cultivated and refined artistic minds! How delightful to find people to whom the beautiful has been a study, and art a world in which they could live, move, and have their being! And yet it was impossible to prevent a shade of deep sadness from resting on all things--a tinge of melancholy. Why?--why this veil of dim and indefinable anguish at sight of whatever is most fair, at hearing whatever is most lovely? Is it the exiled spirit, yearning for its own? Is it the captive, to whom the ray of heaven's own glory comes through the crevice of his dungeon walls? But this is a digression. Returning, we examined the mansion, a fine specimen of the old French chateau; square-built, with high Norman roof, and a round, conical-topped tower at each corner. In front was a garden, curiously laid out in beds, and knots of flowers, with a fountain in the centre. This garden was enclosed on all sides by beech trees, clipped into lofty walls of green. The chateau had once been fortified, but now the remains of the fortifications are made into terraces, planted with roses and honeysuckles. Here we heard, for the first time in our lives, the nightingale's song; a gurgling warble, with an occasional crescendo, _a la Jenny Lind.

At five we dined; took carriage at seven, cars at nine, and arrived in Paris at ten.

Friday, June 17. At twelve o'clock I started for Versailles to visit the camp at Sartory, where I understood the emperor was to review the troops.

At Versailles I mounted the top of an omnibus with two Parisian gentlemen. As I opened my umbrella one of them complimented me on having it. I replied that it was quite a necessary of life. He answered, and we were soon quite chatty. I inquired about the camp at Sartory, and whether the emperor was to be there. He said he had heard so.

He then asked me if we had not a camp near London, showing that he took me for an Englishman. I replied that there was a camp there, though I had not seen it, and that I was an American. In reply he congratulated me that the Americans were far ahead of the English.

I complimented him then in turn on Versailles and its galleries, and told him there was not a nation on earth that had such monuments of its own history and greatness. They were highly elated at this, and we rode along in the best possible humor together. Nothing will make a Frenchman thoroughly your friend sooner than heartily to praise his country. It is for this I love them.

Arrived at Sartory I had a long walk to reach the camp; and instead of inquiring, as I ought to have done, whether the review was to take place, I took it for granted. I saw bodies of soldiers moving in various directions, officers galloping about, and flying artillery trundling along, and heard drums, trumpets, and bands, and thought it was all right.

A fifteen minutes' walk brought me to the camp, where tents for some twenty-five thousand whiten the plain far as the eye can reach. There, too, I saw distant masses of infantry moving. I might have known by their slouchy way that they were getting home from parade, not preparing for it. But I thought the latter, and lying down under a tree, waited for the review to begin.

It was almost three o'clock. I waited and waited. The soldiers did not come. I waited, and waited, and waited. The soldiers seemed to have _gone more and more. The throne where the emperor was to sit remained unoccupied. At last it was four o'clock. Thought I, I will just ask these redcaps here about this.

"Messieurs," said I, "will you be so good as to inform me if the emperor is to be here to-day?"

"No," they replied, "he comes on Sunday."

"And what is to be done here, then?" I asked.

"Here," they replied, "to-day? Nothing; _c'est fini_--it is all over. The review was at one o'clock."

There I had been walking from Versailles, and waiting for a parade some two hours after it was all over, among crowds of people who could have told me at once if I had not been so excessively modest as not to ask.

About that time an American might have been seen precipitately seeking the railroad. I had _not seen the elephant. It was hot, dusty, and there was neither cab nor _caleche in reach.

I arrived at the railroad station just in time to see the train go out at one end as I came in at the other. This was conducive to a frame of mind that scarcely needs remark. Out of that depot (it was half past four, and at six they dine in Paris) with augmented zeal and decision I pitched into a cab.

"_A l'autre station, vite, vite!_"--To the other station, quick, quick! He mounted the box, and commenced lashing his Rosinante, who was a subject for crows to mourn over, (because they could hope for nothing in trying to pick him,) and in an ambling, scrambling pace, composed of a trot, a canter, and a kick, we made a descent like an avalanche into the station yard. There Richard was himself again. I assumed at once the air of a gentleman who had seen the review, and walked about with composure and dignity. No doubt I had seen the emperor and all the troops. I succeeded in getting home just in the middle of dinner, and by dint of hard eating caught up at the third course with the rest.

That I consider a very white day. Some might call it _green_, but I mark such days with white always.

In the evening we attended the _salon of Lady Elgin, a friend of our hostess. Found there the Marquis de M., whose book on the spiritual rappings comes out next week. We conversed on the rappings _ad nauseam_.

By the way, her ladyship rents the Hotel de la Rochefoucauld, in the Rue de Varenne, Faubourg St. Germain.

St. Germain is full of these princely, aristocratic mansions. Mournfully beautiful--desolately grand. Out of the stern, stony street, we entered a wide, square court, under a massive arched gateway, then through the Rez-de-Chaussee, or lower suite of rooms, passed out into the rear of the house to find ourselves in the garden, or rather a kind of park, with tall trees, flooded in moonlight, bathed in splendors, and with their distant, leafy arches (cut with artistic skill) reminding one of a Gothic temple. Such a magnificent forest scene in the very heart of Paris!

Saturday, June 18. After breakfast rode out to Arc de Triomphe--de l'Etoile, and thence round the exterior barriers and boulevards to Pere la Chaise.

At every entrance to the city past the barriers, (which are now only a street,) there is a gate, and a building marked "Octroi," which means customs.

No carriage can pass without being examined, though the examination is a mere form.

Pere la Chaise did not interest me much, except that from the top of the hill I gained a good view of the city. It is filled with tombs and monuments, and laid out in streets. The houses of the dead are smaller than the houses of the living, but they are made like houses, with doors, windows, and an empty place inside for an altar, crucifix, lamps, wreaths, &c. Tombs have no charm for me. I am not at all interested or inspired by them. They do not serve with me the purpose intended, viz., of calling up the memory of the departed. On the contrary, their memory is associated with their deeds, their works, the places where they wrought, and the monuments of themselves they have left. Here, however, in the charnel house is commemorated but the event of their deepest shame and degradation, their total vanquishment under the dominion of death, the triumph of corruption.

Here all that was visible of them is insulted by the last enemy, in the deepest, most humiliating posture of contumely.

From Pere la Chaise I came home to dinner at six. H., meanwhile, had been sitting to M. Belloc.

After dinner H. and the two Misses C. rode out to the Bois de Boulogne, the fashionable drive of Paris.

We saw all the splendid turnouts, and all the _not splendid. Our horse was noted for the springhalt. It is well to have something to attract attention about one, you know.

Sabbath, June 19. After breakfast went with Miss W. to the temple St. Marie, to hear Adolphe Monod. Was able to understand him very well. Gained a new idea of the capabilities of the French language as the vehicle of religious thought and experience. I had thought that it was a language incapable of being made to express the Hebrew mind and feeling of Scripture. I think differently. The language of Canaan can make its way through all languages, and in the French it has a pathos, point, and simplicity which are wonderful. There were thoughts in the sermon which I shall never forget. I feel myself highly rewarded for going.

The congregation was as large as the church could possibly hold, and composed of very interesting and intelligent-looking people. His subject was, "If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth willingly, and without upbraiding," &c. It was most touchingly adapted to the wants of the unhappy French, and of all poor sinners; and it came home to me in particular, as if it had been addressed to me singly, so that I could not help crying.

The afternoon and evening spent at home, reading. H. went in the morning with Madame de T. to the Catholic service, at the church St. Germaine l'Auxerrois, and her companion pointed out the different parts of the service.

H. said she was moved with compassion towards these multitudes, who seem so very earnest and solemn. Their prayer books contain much that is excellent, if it was not mixed with so much that is idolatrous.

Monday, June 20. Went to have our passport _vised_. The sky was black, and the rain pouring in torrents. As I reached the quay the Seine was rushing dark, and turbidly foaming. I crept into a fiacre, and was amused, as we rattled on, to see the plight of gay and glittering Paris. One poor organ grinder, on the Pont National, sat with his umbrella over his head, and his body behind the parapet, grinding away, in the howling storm. It was the best use for a hand organ I ever saw. The gardens of the Tuileries presented a sorry sight. The sentries slunk within their boxes. The chairs were stacked and laid on their sides. The paths were flooded; and the classic statues looked as though they had a dismal time of it, in the general shower bath.

My passport went through the office of the American embassy, prefecture of the police, and the _bureau des affaires etrangeres_, and the Swiss legation, and we were all right for the frontier.

Our fair hostesses are all Alpine mountaineers, posted up in mountain lore. They make you look blank one moment with horror at some escape of theirs from being dashed down a precipice; the next they run you a rig indeed over the Righi; anon you shamble through Chamounix, and break your neck over the Col-de-balme, and, before you are aware, are among the lacking at Interlachen.

Wednesday, June 22. Adieu to Paris! Ho for Chalons sur Saone! After affectionate farewells of our kind friends, by eleven o'clock we were rushing, in the pleasantest of cars, over the smoothest of rails, through Burgundy that was; I reading to H. out of Dumas' _Impressions de Voyage_, going over our very route. We arrived at Chalons at nine in the evening, and were soon established in the Hotel du Park, in two small, brick-floored chambers, looking out upon the steamboat landing.

Thursday, 23. Eight o'clock A. M. Since five we have had a fine bustle on the quay below our windows. There lay three steamers, shaped, for all the world, like our last night's rolls. One would think Ichabod Crane might sit astride one of them and dip his feet in the water. They ought to be swift. _L'Hirondelle (the Swallow) flew at five; another at six. We leave at nine.

Eleven o'clock. Here we go, down the Saone. Cabin thirty feet by ten, papered and varnished in invitation of maple. Ladies knitting, netting, nodding, napping; gentlemen yawning, snoring; children frolicking; dogs whining. Overhead a constant tramping, stamping, and screeching of the steam valve. H. suggests an excursion forward. We heave up from Hades, and cautiously thread the crowded _Al Sirat of a deck. The day is fine; the air is filled with golden beams.

More and more beautiful grows the scene as we approach the Rhone--the river broader, hills more commanding, and architecture tinged with the Italian. Bradshaw says it equals the Rhine.

At Lyons there was a scene of indescribable confusion. Out of the hold a man with a rope and hook was hauling baggage up a smooth board. Three hundred people were sorting their goods without checks. Porters were shouldering immense loads, four or five heavy trunks at once, corded together, and stalking off Atlantean. Hatboxes, bandboxes, and valises burst like a meteoric shower out of a crater. "_A moi, a moi!_" was the cry, from old men, young women, soldiers, shopkeepers, and _pretres_, scuffling and shoving together. Careless at once of grammar and of grace, I pulled and shouted with the best, till at length our plunder was caught, corded and poised on an herculean neck. We followed in the wake, H. trembling lest the cord should break, and we experience a pre-Alpine avalanche. At length, however, we breathed more freely in rooms _au quatrieme of Hotel de l'Univers_.

After dinner we drove to the cathedral. It was St. John's eve. "At twelve o'clock to-night," said H., "the spirits of all who are to die this year will appear to any who will go alone into the dark cathedral and summon them"! We were charmed with the interior. Twilight hid all the dirt, cobwebs, and tawdry tinsel; softened the outlines, and gave to the immense arches, columns, and stained windows a strange and thrilling beauty. The distant tapers, seeming remoter than reality, the kneeling crowds, the heavy vesper chime, all combined to realize, H. said, her dreams of romance more perfectly than ever before. We could not tear ourselves away. But the clash of the sexton's keys, as he smote them together, was the signal to be gone. One after another the tapers were extinguished. The kneeling figures rose; and shadowily we flitted forth, as from some gorgeous cave of grammarye.

Saturday, June 25. Lyons to Geneve. As this was our first experience in the diligence line, we noticed particularly every peculiarity. A diligence is a large, heavy, strongly-built, well-hung stage, consisting of five distinct departments,--coupe, berline, omnibus, banquette, and baggage top.

(Illustration: _of a diligence coach drawn by four horses._)

After setting up housekeeping in our berline, and putting all "to rights," the whips cracked, bells jingled, and away we thundered by the arrowy Rhone. I had had the idea that a diligence was a rickety, slow-moulded antediluvian nondescript, toiling patiently along over impassable roads at a snail's pace. Judge of my astonishment at finding it a full-blooded, vigorous monster, of unscrupulous railway momentum and imperturbable equipoise of mind.

Down the macadamized slopes we thundered at a prodigious pace; up the hills we trotted with six horses, three abreast; madly through the little towns we burst, like a whirlwind, crashing across the pebbled streets, and out upon the broad, smooth road again. Before we had well considered the fact that we were out of Lyons, we stopped to change horses. Done in a jiffy; and whoop, crick, crack, whack, rumble, bump, whirr, whisk, away we blazed, till, ere we knew it, another change, and another.

"Really, H.," said I, "this is not slow. The fact is, we are going ahead. _I call this travelling--never was so comfortable in my life."

"Nor I," quoth she. "And, besides, we are unwinding the Rhone all along."

And, sure enough, we were; ever and anon getting a glimpse of him spread mazily all abroad in some beautiful vale, like a midguard anaconda done in silver.

At Nantua, a sordid town, with a squalid inn, we dined, at two, deliciously, on a red shrimp soup; no, not soup, it was a _potage_; no, a stew; no, a creamy, unctuous mess, muss, or whatever you please to call it. Sancho Panza never ate his olla podrida with more relish. Success to mine host of the jolly inn of Nantua!

Then we thunderbolted along again, shot through a grim fortress, crossed a boundary line, and were in Switzerland. Vive Switzerland! land of Alps, glaciers, and freemen!

As evening drew on, a wind sprang up, and a storm seemed gathering on the Jura. The rain dashed against the panes of the berime, as we rode past the grim-faced monarch of the "misty shroud." A cold wind went sweeping by, and the Rhone was rushing far below, discernible only in the distance as a rivulet of flashing foam. It was night as we drove into Geneva, and stopped at the Messagerie. I heard with joy a voice demanding if this were Monsieur Besshare. I replied, not without some scruples of conscience, "_Oui, monsieur, c'est moi,_" though the name did not sound exactly like the one to which I had been wont to respond. In half an hour we were at home, in the mansion of Monsieur Fazy.

Geneve, Monday, June 27. The day dawned clear over this palace of enchantment. The mountains, the lake, the entire landscape on every side revealed itself from our lofty windows with transparent brilliancy. This house is built on high ground, at the end of the lake near where the Rhone flows out. It is very high in the rooms, and we are in the fourth story, and have distant views on all four sides. The windows are very large, and open in leaves, on hinges, like doors, leaving the entire window clear, as a frame for the distant picture.

In the afternoon we rode out across the Rhone, where it breaks from the lake, and round upon the ascending shore. It is seldom here that the Alps are visible. The least mist hides them completely, so that travellers are wont to record it in their diaries as a great event, "I saw Mont Blanc to-day." Yesterday there was nothing but clouds and thick gloom; but now we had not ridden far before H. sprang suddenly, as if she had lost her senses--her cheeks flushed, and her eye flashing. I was frightened. "There," said she, pointing out of the side of the carriage across the lake, "there he is--there's Mont Blanc." "Pooh," said I, "no such thing." And some trees for a moment intervened, and shut out the view. Presently the trees opened, and H. cried, "There, that _white_; don't you see?--there--there!" pointing with great energy, as if she were getting ready to fly. I looked and saw, sure enough, behind the dark mass of the Mole, (a huge blue-black mountain in the foreground,) the granite ranges rising gradually and grim as we rode; but, further still, behind those gray and ghastly barriers, all bathed and blazing in the sun's fresh splendors, undimmed by a cloud, unveiled even by a filmy fleece of vapor, and oh, so white--so intensely, blindingly white! against the dark-blue sky, the needles, the spires, the solemn pyramid, the transfiguration cone of Mont Blanc. Higher, and still higher, those apocalyptic splendors seemed lifting their spectral, spiritual forms, seeming to rise as we rose, seeming to start like giants hidden from behind the black brow of intervening ranges, opening wider the amphitheatre of glory, until, as we reached the highest point in our road, the whole unearthly vision stood revealed in sublime perspective. The language of the Revelation came rushing through my soul. This is, as it were, a door opened in heaven. Here are some of those everlasting mountain ranges, whose light is not of the sun, nor of the moon, but of the Lord God and of the Lamb. Here is, as it were, a great white throne, on which One might sit before whose face heaven and earth might flee; and here a sea of glass mingled with fire. Nay, rather, here are some faint shadows, some dim and veiled resemblances, which bring our earth-imprisoned spirits to conceive remotely what the disencumbered eye of the ecstatic apostle gazed upon.

With solemn thankfulness we gazed--thankfulness to God for having withdrawn his veil of clouds from this threshold of the heavenly vestibule, and brought us across the Atlantic to behold. And as our eyes, blinded by the dazzling vision,--which we might reside here years without beholding in such perfection,--filled with tears, we were forced to turn them away and hide them, or fasten them upon the dark range of Jura on the other side of us, until they were able to gaze again. Thus we rode onward, obtaining new points of view, new effects, and deeper emotions; nor can time efface the impressions we received in the depths of our souls.

A lady, at whose door we alighted for a moment to obtain a particular point of view, told us that at sunset the mountain assumed a peculiar transparency, with most mysterious hues of blue and purple; so that she had seen irreligious natures, frivolous and light, when suddenly called out to look, stand petrified, or rather exalted above themselves, and irresistibly turning their faces, their thoughts, their breathings of adoration up to God.

I do not wonder that the eternal home of the glorified should be symbolized by a Mount Zion. I do not wonder that the Psalmist should say, "I will lift up mine eyes unto the _hills, from whence cometh my help!" For surely earth cannot present, nor unassisted fancy conceive, an object more profoundly significant of divine majesty than these mountains in their linen vesture of everlasting snow.

Tuesday, June 28. The morning dawned clear, warm, and cloudless. A soft haze rested on the distant landscape, without, however, in the least dimming its beauty.

At about eleven we set off with two horses in an open carriage, by the left shore, to visit St. Cergue, and ascend the Jura. All our way was gradually ascending, and before us, or rather across the lake on one side, stood the glorious New Jerusalem scene. We were highly favored. Every moment diminished the intervening mountains, and lifted the gorgeous pageant higher into the azure.

Every step, every turn, presented it in some new point of view, and extended the range of observation. New Alps were continually rising, and diamond-pointed peaks glancing up behind sombre granite bulwarks.

At noon _cocher stopped at a village to refresh his horses. We proceeded to a cool terrace filled with trees, and lulled by the splash of a fountain, from whence the mountain was in full view. Here we investigated the mysteries of a certain basket which our provident hostess had brought with her.

After due refreshment and repose we continued our route, ascending the Jura, towards the Dole, which is the highest mountain of that range. A macadamized road coiled up the mountain side, affording us at every turning a new and more splendid view of the other shore of the lake. At length we reached St. Cergue, and leaving the carriage, H. and I, guided by a peasant girl, went through the woods to the highest point, where were the ruins of the ancient chateau. Far be it from me to describe what we saw. I feel that I have already been too presumptuous. We sat down, and each made a hasty sketch of Mont Blanc.

We took tea at the hotel, which reminded us, by the neatness of its scoured chambers with their white bedspreads, of the apartments of some out-of-the-way New England farm house.

The people of the neighborhood having discovered who H. was, were very kind, and full of delight at seeing her. It was Scotland over again. We have had to be unflinching to prevent her being overwhelmed, both in Paris and Geneva, by the same demonstrations of regard. To this we were driven, as a matter of life and death. It was touching to listen to the talk of these secluded mountaineers. The good hostess, even the servant maids, hung about H., expressing such tender interest for the slave. All had read Uncle Tom. And it had apparently been an era in their life's monotony, for they said, "O, madam, do write another! Remember, our winter nights here are _very long!"

The proprietor of the inn (not the landlord) was a gentleman of education and polished demeanor. _He had lost an Eva_, he said. And he spoke with deep emotion. He thanked H. for what she had written, and at parting said, "Have courage; the sacred cause of Liberty will yet prevail through the world."

Ah, they breathe a pure air, these generous Swiss, among these mountain tops! May their simple words be a prophecy divine.

At about six we returned, and as we slowly wound down the mountain side we had a full view of all the phenomena of color attending the sun's departure. The mountain,--the city rather,--for so high had it risen, that I could imagine a New Jerusalem of pearly white, with Mont Blanc for the central citadel, or temple,--the city was all a-glow. The air behind, the sky, became of a delicate apple green; the snow, before so incandescent in whiteness, assumed a rosy tint. We paused-- we sat in silence to witness these miraculous transformations. "Charley," said H., "sing that hymn of yours, the New Jerusalem." And in the hush of the mountain solitudes we sang together,--

"We are on our journey home,
Where Christ our Lord is gone;
We will meet around his throne,
When he makes his people one
In the New Jerusalem.

We can see that distant home,
Though clouds rise oft between;
Faith views the radiant dome,
And a lustre flashes keen
From the New Jerusalem.

O, glory shining far
From the never-setting sun!
O, trembling morning star!
Our journey's almost done
To the New Jerusalem.

Our hearts are breaking now
Those mansions fair to see:
O Lord, thy heavens bow,
And raise us up with thee
To the New Jerusalem."

The echoes of our voices died along the mountain sides, as slowly we wended our downward way. The rosy flush began to fade. A rich creamy or orange hue seemed to imbue the scene, and finally, as the shadows from the Jura crept higher, and covered it with a pall, it assumed a startling, deathlike pallor of chalky white. Mont Blanc was dead. Mont Blanc was walking as a ghost upon the granite ranges. But as darkness came on, and as the sky over the Jura, where the sun had set, obtained a deep, rosy tinge, Mont Blanc revived a little, and a flush of delicate, transparent pink tinged his cone, and Mont Blanc was asleep. Good night to Mont Blanc.

Wednesday morning, June 29. The day is intensely hot; the weather is exceedingly fair, but Mont Blanc is not visible. Not a vestige--not a trace. All vanished. It does not seem possible. There do not seem to exist the conditions for such celestial pageant to have stood there. What! there--where my eyes now look steadily and piercingly into the blue, into the seemingly fathomless azure--there, will they tell me, I saw that enraptured vision, as it were, the city descending from God out of heaven, as a bride adorned for her husband? Incredible! It must be a dream, a vision of the night.

Evening. After the heat of the day our whole household, old and young, set forth for a boating excursion on the lake. Dividing our party in two boats, we pulled about a mile up the left shore. Lake Leman was before us in all its loveliness; and we were dipping our oar where Byron had floated past scenes which scarce need to become classic to possess a superior charm. The sun was just gone behind the Jura, leaving a glorious sky. Mont Blanc stood afar behind a hazy veil, like a spirit half revealed. We saw it pass before our eyes as we moved. "It stood still, but we could not discern the form thereof." As we glided on past boats uncounted, winged or many-footed, motionless or still, we softly sung,--

"Think of me oft at twilight hour,
And I will think of thee;
Remembering how we felt its power
When thou wast still with me.

Dear is that hour, for day then sleeps
Upon the gray cloud's breast;
And not a voice or sound e'er keeps
His wearied eyes from rest."

The surface of the lake was unruffled. The air was still. An occasional burst from the band in the garden of Rousseau came softened in the distance. Enveloped in her thick shawl H. reclined in the stern, and gave herself to the influences of the hour.

Darkness came down upon the deep. And in the gloom we turned our prows towards the many-twinkling quays, far in the distance. We bent to the oar in emulous contest, and our barks foamed and hissed through the water. In a few moments we were passing through the noisy crowd on the quay towards our quiet home.

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Sunny Memories Of Foreign Lands, Volume 2 - Letter 32 Sunny Memories Of Foreign Lands, Volume 2 - Letter 32

Sunny Memories Of Foreign Lands, Volume 2 - Letter 32
LETTER XXXIIDEAR CHILDREN:--I promised to write from Chamouni, so to commence at the commencement. Fancy me, on a broiling day in July, panting with the heat, gazing from my window in Geneva upon Lake Leman, which reflects the sun like a burning glass, and thinking whether in America, or any where else, it was ever so hot before. This was quite a new view of the subject to me, who had been warned in Paris only of the necessity of blanket shawls, and had come to Switzerland with my head full of glaciers, and my trunk full of furs.While arranging my

Sunny Memories Of Foreign Lands, Volume 2 - Letter 30 Sunny Memories Of Foreign Lands, Volume 2 - Letter 30

Sunny Memories Of Foreign Lands, Volume 2 - Letter 30
LETTER XXXLONDON, June 3.MY DEAR HUSBAND:--According to request I will endeavor to keep you informed of all our goings on after you left, up to the time of our departure for Paris.We have borne in mind your advice to hasten away to the continent. C. wrote, a day or two since, to Mrs. C. at Paris, to secure very private lodgings, and by no means let any one know that we were coming. She has replied, urging us to come to her house, and promising entire seclusion and rest. So, since you departed, we have been passing with a kind of