Julia Ward Howe (1819 - 1910)

by Laura E. Richards

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VOLUME II - Chapter I - Europe Revisited - 1877; aet. 58


Enter Life's high cathedral
With reverential heart,
Its lofty oppositions
Matched with divinest art.

Thought with its other climbing
To meet and blend on high;
Man's mortal and immortal
Wed for eternity.

When noon's high mass is over,
Muse in the silent aisles;
Wait for the coming vespers
In which new promise smiles.

When from the dome height echoes
An "Ite, missa est,"
Whisper thy last thanksgiving,
Depart, and take thy rest.

J. W. H.

From the time of the Doctor's death till her marriage in 1887, the youngest daughter was her mother's companion and yoke-fellow. In all records of travel, of cheer, of merriment, she can say thankfully: "Et ego in Arcadia vixi."

The spring of 1877 found the elder comrade weary with much lecturing and presiding, the younger somewhat out of health. Change of air and scene was prescribed,[4] and the two sailed for Europe early in May.

Throughout the journeyings which followed, our mother had two objects in view: to see her own kind of people, the seekers, the students, the reformers, and their works; and to give Maud the most vivid first impression of all that would be interesting and valuable to her. These objects were not always easy to combine.

After a few days at Chester (where she laments the "restoration" of the fine old oak of the cathedral, "now shining like new, after a boiling in potash") and a glimpse of Hawarden and Warwick, they proceeded to London and took lodgings in Bloomsbury (a quarter of high fashion when she first knew London, now given over to lodgings). Once settled, she lost no time in establishing relations with friends old and new. The Unitarian Association was holding its annual conference; one of the first entries in the Journal tells of her attending the Unitarian breakfast where she spoke about "the poor children and the Sunday schools."

Among her earliest visitors was Charles Stewart Parnell, of whom she says:—

"Mrs. Delia Stewart Parnell, whom I had known in America, had given me a letter of introduction to her son, Charles, who was already conspicuous as an advocate of Home Rule for Ireland. He called upon me and appointed a day when I should go with him to the House of Commons. He came in his brougham and saw me safely deposited in the ladies' gallery. He was then at the outset of his stormy career, and his sister Fanny told me that he had in Parliament but one supporter of his views, 'a man named Biggar.' He certainly[5] had admirers elsewhere, for I remember having met a disciple of his, O'Connor by name, at a 'rout' given by Mrs. Justin McCarthy. I asked this lady if her husband agreed with Mr. Parnell. She replied with warmth, 'Of course; we are all Home Rulers here.'"

"May 26. To Floral Hall concert, where heard Patti—and many others—a good concert. In the evening to Lord Houghton's, where made acquaintance of Augustus Hare, author of 'Memorials of a Quiet Life,' etc., with Mrs. Proctor, Mrs. Singleton [Violet Fane], Dr. and Mrs. Schliemann, and others, among them Edmund Yates. Lord Houghton was most polite and attentive. Robert Browning was there."

Whistler was of the party that evening. His hair was then quite black, and the curious white forelock which he wore combed high like a feather, together with his striking dress, made him one of the most conspicuous figures in the London of that day. Henry Irving came in late: "A rather awkward man, whose performance of 'Hamlet' was much talked of at that time." She met the Schliemanns often, and heard Mrs. Schliemann speak before the Royal Geographical Society, where she made a plea for the modern pronunciation of Greek. In order to help her husband in his work, Mrs. Schliemann told her, she had committed to memory long passages from Homer which proved of great use to him in his researches at Mycenæ and Tiryns.

"May 27.... Met Mr. and Mrs. Wood—he has excavated the ruins at Ephesus, and has found the site[6] of the Temple of Diana. His wife has helped him in his work, and having some practical experience in the use of remedies, she gave much relief to the sick men and women of the country."

"June 2. Westminster Abbey at 2 P.M. ... I enjoyed the service, Mendelssohn's 'Hymn of Praise,' Dean Stanley's sermon, and so on, very unusually. Edward Twisleton seemed to come back to me, and so did dear Chev, and a spiritual host of blessed ones who have passed within the veil...."

"June 14. Breakfast with Mr. Gladstone. Grosvenor Gallery with the Seeleys. Prayer meeting at Lady Gainsborough's.

"We were a little early, for Mrs. Gladstone complained that the flowers ordered from her country seat had but just arrived. A daughter of the house proceeded to arrange them. Breakfast was served at two round tables, exactly alike.

"I was glad to find myself seated between the great man and the Greek minister, John Gennadius. The talk ran a good deal upon Hellenics, and I spoke of the influence of the Greek in the formation of the Italian language, to which Mr. Gladstone did not agree. I know that scholars differ on the point, but I still retain the opinion I expressed. I ventured a timid remark regarding the number of Greek derivatives used in our common English speech. Mr. Gladstone said very abruptly, 'How? What? English words derived from Greek?' and almost

'Frightened Miss Muffet away.'

"He is said to be habitually disputatious, and I[7] thought that this must certainly be the case; for he surely knew better than most people how largely and familiarly we incorporate the words of Plato, Aristotle, and Xenophon in our everyday talk."[78]

Mr. Gladstone was still playing the first rôle on the stage of London life. Our mother notes hearing him open the discussion that followed Mrs. Schliemann's address before the Royal Geographical Society. Lord Rosebery, who was at that time Mr. Gladstone's private secretary, talked much of his chief, for whom he expressed impassioned devotion. Rosebery, though he must have been a man past thirty at the time, looked a mere boy. His affection for "Uncle Sam" Ward was as loyal as that for his chief, and it was on his account that he paid our mother some attention when she was in London.

She always remembered this visit as one of the most interesting of the many she made to the "province in brick." She was driving three horses abreast,—her own life, Maud's life, the life of London. She often spoke of the great interest of seeing so many different circles of London society; likening it to a layer cake, which a fortunate stranger is able to cut through, enjoying a little of each. Her modest Bloomsbury lodgings were often crowded by the leaders of the world of letters, philanthropy, and art, and some even of the world of fashion. The little lodging-house "slavey" was often awed by the titles on the cards she invariably presented between a work-worn thumb and[8] finger. It is curious to contrast the brief record of these days with that of the Peace Crusade.

"June 10. To morning service at the Foundling Hospital—very touching. To luncheon with M. G. D. where met the George Howards."

"June 15.... 'Robert' [opera] with Richard Mansfield."

"June 18. Synagogue."

"June 19. Lord Mayor's Mansion House. I am to speak there concerning Laura Bridgman. Henry James may come to take me to St. Bart.'s Hospital."

"June 25. 'Messiah.' Miss Bryce."

"June 26. Dined with Capt. Ward. Theatre. Justin McCarthy."

"June 28. Meeting in Lambeth Library."

"June 29. Russell Gurney's garden party.

"Miss Marston's, Onslow Sq., 4 P.M. Anti-vivisection. Met Dudley Campbell. A day of rest, indeed. I wrote out my anti-vivisection argument for to-morrow, and finished the second letter to the Chicago 'Tribune.' Was thus alone nearly all day. Dined at Brentini's in my old fashion, chop, tea, and beer, costing one shilling and fivepence."

She remembered with pleasure an evening spent with the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire at Devonshire House. A ball at Mr. Goschen's was another evening of enchantment, as was also the dinner given for her at Greenwich by Edmund Yates, where she had a good talk with Mr. Mallock, whose "New Republic"[9] was one of the books of that season. She managed, too, sometimes to be at home; among her visitors were William Black, John Richard Green, and Mr. Knowles, editor of the "Nineteenth Century."

The London visit lasted nearly two months; as the engagements multiply, its records grow briefer and briefer. There are many entries like the following:—

"Breakfast with Lord Houghton, where met Lord Granville and M. Waddington, late Minister of Education in France. Garden party at Chiswick in the afternoon. Prince of Wales there with his eldest son, Prince Albert Victor. Mrs. Julian Goldsmith's ball in the evening."

It is remembered that she bravely watched the dancers foot it through the livelong night, and drove home by daylight, with her "poor dancing Maud"!

Madame Waddington was formerly Miss King, the granddaughter of Mr. Ward's old partner. Our mother was always interested in meeting any descendants of Prime, Ward & King.

With all this, she was writing letters for the Chicago "Tribune" and the "Woman's Journal." This year of 1877 saw the height of the Æsthetic movement. Mrs. Langtry, the "Jersey Lily," was the beauty and toast of the season. Gilbert and Sullivan's "Patience" was the dramatic hit of the year, and "Greenery yallery, Grosvenor Gallery" the most popular catch of the day.

She found it hard to tear herself away from England; the visit (which she likened to one at the house of an adored grandmother) was over all too soon. But[10] July was almost gone; and the two travellers finally left the enchanted island for Holland, recalling Emerson's advice to one going abroad for the first time: "A year for England, and a year for the rest of the world!"

The much neglected Journal now takes up the story.

The great Franz Hals pictures delighted her beyond measure. She always bought the best reproductions she could afford, and valued highly an etching that she owned from his Bohémienne. She never waited for any authority to admire either a work of art or a person. She had much to say about the influence of the Dutch blood both in our own family and in our country, which was to her merely a larger family connection. All through Holland she was constantly noting customs and traditions which we seemed to have inherited; and she felt a great likeness and sympathy between herself and some of the Dutch people she knew.

"The Hague. To the old prison where the instruments of torture are preserved. The prison itself is so dark and bare that to stay therein was a living death. To this was often added the most cruel torture. The poor wretch was stretched on a cross, on which revolving wheels, turned by a crank, agonized and destroyed his spinal column—or, by another machine, his head and feet were drawn in opposite directions—or, his limbs were stretched out and every bone broken with an iron bar. Tortures of fire and water were added. Through all these horrors, I saw the splendors[11] of faith and conscience which illuminated these dungeons, and which enabled frail humanity to bear these inflictions without flinching."

She always wanted to see the torture chambers. She listened to all the detailed explanations and looked at all the dreadful instruments, buoyed up by the thought of the splendors she speaks of, when mere shrinking flesh-and-blood creatures like her companion, who only thought of the poor tortured bodies, could not bear the strain of it.

From The Hague they went to Amsterdam, where they "worked hard at seeing the rich museum, which contains some of the largest and best of Rembrandt's pictures, and much else of interest"; thence to Antwerp. Here she writes:—

"To the Museum, where saw the glorious Rubens and Van Dycks, together with the Quentin Matsys triptych. Went to the Cathedral, and saw the dear Rubens pictures—my Christ in the Elevation of the Cross seemed to me as wonderful as ever. The face asks, 'Why hast thou forsaken me?' but seems also to reflect the answer, from the very countenance of the Father. Education of the Virgin by Rubens—angels hold a garland above the studious head of the young Madonna. This would be a good picture for Vassar."

"Sunday, July 29. Up betimes—to high mass at the Cathedral. Had a seat near the Descent, and saw it better than ever before. Could not see the Elevation so well, but feasted my eyes on both. Went later to the church of St. Paul where Rubens's Flagellation[12] is. Found it very beautiful. At 4 P.M. M. Félu[79] came to take us to the Zoo, which is uncommonly good. The collection of beasts from Africa is very rich. They are also successful in raising wild beasts, having two elephants, a tiger, and three giraffes which have been born in the cages—some young lions also. The captive lioness always destroyed her young, and these were saved by being given to a dog to nurse...."

August found the travellers in Prussia.

"Passed the day in Berlin.... At night took railroad for Czerwinsk, travelling second-class. After securing our seats, as we supposed, we left the cars to get some refreshments, when a man and a woman displaced our effects, and took our places. The woman refused to give me my place, and annoyed me by pushing and crowding me."

The brutality of this couple was almost beyond belief. She was always so gracious to fellow-travellers that they usually "made haste to be kind" in return. She made it a point to converse with the intelligent-looking people she met, either in the train or at the tables d'hôte then still in vogue. She talked with these chance acquaintances of their country or their profession. It was never mere idle conversation.

This journey across Europe was undertaken solely for the pleasure of seeing her sister, always her first object in visiting Europe. The bond between them was very strong, spite of the wide difference of their natures and the dissimilarity of their interests. Mrs.[13] Terry was now visiting her eldest daughter, Annie Crawford, married to Baron Eric von Rabé and living at Lesnian in German Poland. Baron Eric had served in the Franco-Prussian War with distinction, had been seriously wounded, and obliged to retire from active service. Here was an entirely new social atmosphere, the most conservative in Europe. Even before the travellers arrived, the shadow of formality had fallen upon them; for Mrs. Terry had written begging that they would arrive by "first-class"! At that time the saying was, "Only princes, Americans, and fools travel first-class," and our mother's rule had been to travel second. The journey was already a great expense, and the added cost seemed to her useless. Accordingly, she bought second-class tickets to a neighboring station and first-class ones from there to Czerwinsk. This entailed turning out in the middle of the night and waiting an hour for the splendid express carrying the stiff and magnificently upholstered first-class carriages, whose red plush seats and cushions were nothing like so comfortable as the old grey, cloth-lined, second-class carriages!

Still, the travellers arrived looking as proud as they could, wearing their best frocks and bonnets. They travelled with the Englishwoman's outfit. "Three suits. Hightum, tightum, and scrub." "Hightum" was for any chance festivity, "tightum" for the table d'hôte, "scrub" for everyday travelling. The question of the three degrees was anxiously discussed on this occasion; it was finally decided that only "hightum" would come up to the Von Rabé standard.

[14]"August 4. Arrived at Czerwinsk, where sister L. and Baron von Rabé met us. He kissed my hand in a courtly manner. My sister looks well, but has had a hard time. We drove to Lesnian where Annie von R. and her mother-in-law made us welcome."

"August 9, Lesnian. A quiet day at home, writing and some work. Tea with Sister L. in the open air. Then went with Baron von Rabé to visit his farm buildings, which are very extensive; not so nicely finished as would be the case in America. We got many fleas in our clothes.... In the evening the Baron began to dispute with me concerning the French and the use and excellence of war, etc...."

"August 12. Up early—to Czerwinsk and thence by Dirschau to Marienburg to see the famous Ritterschloss of the Teutonic Knights.... Marien-Kirch.... Angel Michael weighing the souls, a triptych—the good in right wing received by St. Peter and clothed by angels, the wicked in the other wing going down. The beautiful sheen of the Archangel—like peacock brightness—a devil with butterfly wings."

"August 14. In the church yesterday we were shown five holes in a flat tombstone. They say that a parricide was buried beneath this stone, and the fingers of his hand forced themselves through these holes. They showed us this hand, dried, and hung up in a chapel. Here also we saw a piece of embroidery in fine pearls, formerly belonging to the Catholic service, and worth thousands of dollars. Some very ancient priests' garments, with Arabic designs, were said to have been[15] brought from the East by the Crusaders. An astronomic clock is shown in the church. The man who made it set about making another, but was made blind lest he should do so. By and by, pretending that he must repair or regulate something in the clock, he so puts it out of order that it never goes again.

"The amber-merchant—the felt shoes—views of America—the lecture—the Baltic."

She was enchanted with Dantzig. The ancient Polish Jews in their long cloth gabardines, with their hair dressed in two curls worn in front of the ear and hanging down on either side of the face, showed her how Shylock must have looked. She was far more interested in the relics of the old Polish civilization than in the crude, brand-new Prussian régime which was replacing it; but this did not suit her hosts. The peasants who worked on the estate were all Poles; the relations between them and their employer smacked strongly of serfdom. One very intelligent man, who often drove her, was called Zalinski. It struck her that this man might be related to her friend Lieutenant Zalinski, of the United States Army. She asked him if he had any relatives in America. He replied that a brother of his had gone to America many years before. He seemed deeply interested in the conversation and tried once or twice to renew it. One of the family, who was driving with our mother at the time, managed to prevent any more talk about the American Zalinski, and when the drive was over she was seriously called to account.

[16]"Can you not see that it would be extremely unfortunate if one of our servants should learn that any relative of his could possibly be a friend of one of our guests?"

She was never allowed to see Zalinski again; on inquiring for him, she learned that he had been sent to a fair with horses to sell. He did not return to Lesnian during the remainder of her stay.

One of the picturesque features of the visit was the celebration of Baron Eric's birthday. It was a general holiday, and no work was done on the estate. After breakfast family and guests assembled in front of the old château; the baron, a fine, soldierly-looking man, his wife, the most graceful of women, and the only daughter, a lovely little girl with the well-chiselled Crawford features. The peasants, dressed in their best, assembled in procession in the driveway; one by one, in order of their age or position, they came up the steps, presented the Baroness with a bouquet, bent the knee and kissed the hand of Baron and Baroness. To most of the guests the picture was full of Old-World romance and charm. To one it was an offence. That the granddaughter of her father, the child of her adored sister, should have been placed by fate in this feudal relationship to the men and women by whose labor she lived outraged her democratic soul.

The Journal thus describes the days at Lesnian:—

"The Baron talked much last evening, first about his crops, then about other matters. He believes duelling to be the most efficient agency in promoting a polite state of society. Would kill any one whom he[17] suspected of great wrong much sooner than bring him to justice. The law, he says, is slow and uncertain—the decision of the sword much more effectual. The present Government favors duelling. If he should kill some one in a duel, he would have two months of imprisonment only. He despises the English as a nation of merchants. The old German knights seem to be his models. With these barbarous opinions, he seems to be personally an amiable and estimable man. Despises University education, in whose course he might have come in contact with the son of a carpenter, or small shopkeeper—he himself went to a Gymnase, with sons of gentlemen...."

"Everything in the Junkerschaft[80] bristles for another war. Oscar von Rabé's room, in which I now write, contains only books of military drill.

"This day we visited the schoolhouse—session over, air of the room perfectly fetid. Schoolmaster, whom we did not see, a Pole—his sister could speak no German. Tattered primers in German. Visited the Jew, who keeps the only shop in Lesnian. Found a regular country assortment. He very civil. Gasthaus opposite, a shanty, with a beer-glass, coffee-cup and saucer rudely painted on its whitewashed boards. Shoemaker in a damp hovel, with mahogany furniture, quite handsome. He made me a salaam with both hands raised to his head."

"We went to call upon Herr von Rohr, at Schenskowkhan—an extensive estate. I had put on my Cheney silk and my bonnet as a great parade. Our[18] host showed us his house, his books and engravings—he has several etchings by Rembrandt. Herr von Mechlenberg, public librarian of Königsberg, a learned little old man, trotted round with us. We had coffee and waffles. Mechlenberg considers the German tongue a very ancient one, an original language, not patched up like French and English, of native dialects mingled with Latin."

In one of her letters to the Chicago "Tribune" is a significant passage written from Lesnian:—

"Having seen in one of the Dantzig papers the announcement that a certain Professor Blank would soon deliver a lecture upon America, showing the folly of headlong emigration thither and the ill fortune which many have wrought for themselves thereby, one of us remarked to a Dantziger that in such a lecture many untruths would probably be uttered. Our friend replied, with a self-gratulatory laugh, 'Ah, Madame! We Germans know all about the women of America. A German woman is devoted to her household, its care and management; but the American women all force their husbands to live in hotels in order that they may have no trouble in housekeeping.'"

She was as sensitive to criticism of her country as some people are to criticism of their friends. Throughout her stay in Germany she suffered from the captious and provoking tone of the Prussian press about things American.

Even in the churches she met this note of unfriendliness. She took the trouble to transcribe in her Journal an absurd newspaper story.

[19] "An American Woman of Business "Some little time since, a man living near Niagara Falls had the misfortune to fall from the bridge leading to Goat's Island. [Berlin paper says Grat Island.] He was immediately hurried to the edge of the fearful precipice. Here, he was able to cling to a ledge of rock, and to support himself for half an hour, until his unavoidable fate overtook him. A compassionate and excited multitude rushed to the shore, and into the house, where the unhappy wife was forced to behold the death struggle of her husband, lost beyond all rescue, this spot yielding the best view of the scene of horror. The 'excellent' wife had too much coolness to allow this opportunity of making money to escape her, but collected from every person present one dollar for window rent. (Berliner Fremdenblatt, Sunday, August 26, 1877.)"

The stab was from a two-edged sword; she loved profoundly the great German writers and composers. She was ever conscious of the debt she owed to Germany's poets, philosophers, and musicians. Goethe had been one of her earliest sources of inspiration, Kant her guide through many troublous years; Beethoven was like some great friend whose hand had led her along the heights, when her feet were bleeding from the stones of the valley. These were the Germans she knew; her Germany was theirs. Now she came in contact with this new Junker Germany, this harsh, military, unlovely country where Bismarck was the ruling[20] spirit, and Von Moltke the idol of the hour. It was a rough awakening for one who had lived in the gentler Fatherland of Schiller and of Schubert.

"August 31, Berlin. Up early, and with carriage to see the review.... A great military display. The Emperor punctual at 10. 'Guten Morgen!' shouted the troops when he came. The Crown Princess on horseback with a blue badge, Hussar cap. The kettle-drum man had his reins hitched, one on either foot, guiding his horse in this way, and beating his drums with both hands...."

The Crown Princess, later the Empress Frederick, daughter of Queen Victoria, and mother of the present German Emperor, was the honorary colonel of the hussar regiment whose uniform she wore, with the addition of a plain black riding-skirt. Civilization owes this lady a debt that cannot be paid save in grateful remembrance. During the Franco-Prussian War she frequently telegraphed to the German officers commanding in France, urging them to spare the works of art in the conquered country. Through her efforts the studios of Rosa Bonheur and other famous painters escaped destruction.

The early part of September was spent in Switzerland. Chamounix filled the travellers with delight. They walked up the Brevant, rode to the Mer de Glace on muleback. The great feature, however, of this visit to Switzerland was the Geneva Congress,[21] called by Mrs. Josephine Butler to protest against the legalizing of vice in England.

"At the Congress to-day—spoke in French.... I spoke of the two sides, active and passive, of human nature, and of the tendency of the education given to women to exaggerate the passive side of their character, whereby they easily fall victims to temptation. Spoke of the exercise of the intellectual faculties as correcting these tendencies—education of women in America—progress made. Coeducation and the worthier relations it induces between young men and women. Said, where society thinks little of women, it teaches them to think little of themselves. Said of marriage, that Milton's doctrine, 'He for God only, she for God in him,' was partial and unjust. 'Ce Dieu, il faut le mettre entre les deux, de manière que chacun des deux appartienne premièrement à Dieu, puis tous les deux l'un à l'autre.'"

"Wish to take up what Blank said to-day of the superiority of man. Woman being created second. That is no mark of inferiority. Shall say, this doctrine of inequality very dangerous. Inferior position, inferior education, legal status, etc. Doctrine of morality quite opposite. If wife patient and husband not, wife superior—if wife chaste, husband not, wife superior. Each indispensable to each other, and to the whole. Gentlemen, where would you have been if we had not cradled and tended you?"

"Congress.... Just before the end of the meeting Mr. Stuart came to me and said that Mrs. Butler[22] wished me to speak for five minutes. After some hesitation I said that I would try. Felt much annoyed at being asked so late. Went up to the platform and did pretty well in French. The audience applauded, laughing a little at some points. In fact, my little speech was a decided success with the French-speaking part of the audience. Two or three Englishwomen who understood very little of it found fault with me for occasioning laughter. To the banquet...."

"September 23. This morning Mrs. Sheldon Ames and her brother came to ask whether I would go to Germany on a special mission. Miss Bolte also wished me to go to Baden Baden to see the Empress of Germany."

"September 24. A conference of Swiss and English women at 11 A.M. A sister of John Stuart Mill spoke, like the other English ladies, in very bad French. 'Nous femmes' said she repeatedly. She seemed a good woman, but travelled far from the subject of the meeting, which was the work to be done to carry out what the Congress had suggested. Mrs. Blank, of Bristol, read a paper in the worst French I ever heard. 'Ouvrager' for 'travailler' was one of her mistakes."

In spite of some slight criticisms on the management of this Congress, she was heart and soul in sympathy with its object; and until the last day of her life, never ceased to battle for the higher morality which at all costs protests against the legalizing of vice.

Before leaving Geneva she writes:—

"To Ferney in omnibus. The little church with its[23] inscription 'Deo erexit Voltaire,' and the date.... I remember visiting Ferney with dear Chev; remember that he did not wish me to see the model [of Madame Du Châtelet's monument] lest it should give me gloomy thoughts about my condition—she died in childbirth, and the design represents her with her infant bursting the tomb."

October found the travellers in Paris, the elder still intent on affairs of study and reform, the younger grasping eagerly at each new wonder or beauty.

There were meetings of the Academy of Fine Arts, the Institute of France, the Court of Assizes: teachers' meetings, too, and dinners with deaconesses (whom she found a pleasant combination of cheerfulness and gravity), and with friends who took her to the theatre.

"To Palais de Justice. Court of Assizes—a young man to be condemned for an offence against a girl of ten or twelve, and then to be tried for attempt to kill his brother and brother-in-law....

"We were obliged to leave before the conclusion of the trial, but learned that its duration was short, ending in a verdict of guilty, and sentence of death. In the days that followed our thoughts often visited this unfortunate man in his cell, so young, apparently without friends—his nearest relatives giving evidence against him, and, in fact, bringing the suit that cost his life. It seems less than Mosaic justice to put a man to death for a murder which, though attempted, was not actually committed. A life for a life is the old doctrine. This is a life for an attempt upon a life."

[24]An essay on Paris, written soon after, recalls further memories. She visited the French Parliament, and was surprised at the noise and excitement which prevailed.

"The presiding officer agitates his bell again and again, to no purpose. He constantly cries, in piteous tone: 'Gentlemen, a little silence, if you please.'"

She tells how "one of the ushers with great pride pointed out Victor Hugo in his seat," and says further:

"I have seen this venerable man of letters several times,—once in his own house.... We were first shown into an anteroom, and presently into a small drawing-room. The venerable viscount kissed my hand ... with the courtesy belonging to other times. He was of middle height, reasonably stout. His eyes were dark and expressive, and his hair and beard were snow-white. Several guests were present.... Victor Hugo seated himself alone upon a sofa, and talked to no one. While the rest of the company kept up a desultory conversation, a servant announced M. Louis Blanc, and our expectations were raised only to be immediately lowered, for at this announcement Victor Hugo arose and withdrew into another room, from which we were able to hear the two voices in earnest conversation...."

"November 27. Packing to leave Paris to-night for Turin. The blanks left in my diary do not mark idle days. I have been exceedingly busy, ... have written at least five newspaper letters, and some other correspondence. Grieved this morning over the time wasted at shop windows, in desiring foolish articles which I could not afford to buy, especially diamonds, which I do not need for my way of life. Yet I have had[25] more good from my stay in Paris than this empty Journal would indicate. Have seen many earnest men and women—have delivered a lecture in French—have started a club of English and American women students, for which Deo gratias! Farewell, dear Paris, God keep and save thee!"

She mentions this club in the "Reminiscences." "I found in Paris a number of young women, students of art and medicine, who appeared to lead very isolated lives and to have little or no acquaintance with one another. The need of a point of social union for these young people appearing to me very great, I invited a few of them to meet me at my lodgings. After some discussion we succeeded in organizing a small club, which, I am told, still exists.... [If we are not mistaken, this small club was a mustard seed which in time grew into the goodly tree of the American Girls' Club.] I was invited several times to speak while in Paris.... I spoke in French without notes.... Before leaving Paris I was invited to take part in a congress of woman's rights. It was deemed proper to elect two presidents for this occasion, and I had the honor of being chosen as one of them....

"Somewhat in contrast with these sober doings was a ball given by the artist Healy at his residence. I had told Mrs. Healy in jest that I should insist upon dancing with her husband. Soon after my entrance she said to me, 'Mrs. Howe, your quadrille is ready for you. See what company you are to have.' I looked and beheld General Grant and M. Gambetta, who led[26] out Mrs. Grant, while her husband had Mrs. Healy for his partner in the quadrille of honor.... Marshal MacMahon was at this time President of the French Republic. I attended an evening reception given by him in honor of General and Mrs. Grant. Our host was supposed to be at the head of the Bonapartist faction, and I heard some rumors of an intended coup d'état which should bring back imperialism and place Plon-Plon [the nickname for Prince Napoleon] on the throne.... I remember Marshal MacMahon as a man of medium height, with no very distinguishing feature. He was dressed in uniform and wore many decorations."

During this visit to Paris, our mother consorted largely with the men and women she had met at the Geneva Congress. She takes leave of Paris with these words: "Better than the filled trunk and empty purse, which usually mark a return from Paris, will be a full heart and a hand clasping across the water another hand pure and resolute as itself."

The two comrades journeyed southward by way of Turin, Milan, and Verona. Of the last place the Journal says:—

"Busy in Verona—first, amphitheatre, with its numerous cells, those of the wild beasts wholesomely lighted and aired, those of the prisoners, dark and noisome and often without light of any kind.... Then to the tombs of the Scaligers—grim and beautiful. Can Signoria who killed his brother was the last. Can Grande, Dante's host."

[27]In Verona she was full of visions of the great poet whose exile she describes in the poem called, "The Price of the Divina Commedia." One who met her there remembers the extraordinary vividness of her impressions. It was as if she had seen and talked with Dante, had heard from his own lips how hard it was to eat the salt and go up and down the stairs of others.

From Verona to Venice, thence to Bologna. Venice was an old friend always revisited with delight. Bologna was new to her; here she found traces of the notable women of its past. In the University she was shown the recitation room where the beautiful female professor of anatomy is said to have given her lectures from behind a curtain, in order that the students' attention should not be distracted from her words of wisdom by her beauty. In the picture gallery she found out the work of Elisabetta Sirani, one of the good painters of the Bolognese school.

And now, after twenty-seven years, her road led once more to Rome.


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