Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 8, No. 50, December, 1861

Part 1 out of 5

Produced by Joshua Hutchinson, Tonya Allen and PG Distributed





After General Lafayette's visit to the United States, in 1824, every
American who went to France went with a firm conviction that he had
a right to take as much as he chose of the old gentleman's time and
hospitality, at his own estimate of their value. Fortunately, the number
of travellers was not great in those days, although a week seldom passed
without bringing two or three new faces to the Rue d'Anjou or La Grange.
It was well both for the purse and the patience of the kind-hearted old
man that ocean steamers were still a doubtful problem, and first-class
packets rarely over five hundred tons.

It could hardly be expected that a boy of sixteen should have more
discretion than his elders; and following the universal example of my
countrymen, the first use that I made of a Parisian cabriolet was to
drive to No. 6, Rue d'Anjou. The _porte cochere_ was open, and the
porter in his lodge,--a brisk little Frenchman, somewhat past middle
age, with just bows enough to prove his nationality, and very expressive
gestures, which I understood much better than I did his words; for they
said, or seemed to say,--"The General is out, and I will take charge
of your letter and card." There was nothing else for me to do, and
so, handing over my credentials, I gave the rest of the morning to
sightseeing, and, being a novice at it and alone, soon got tired and
returned to my hotel.

I don't know how that hotel would look to me now; but to my untrained
eyes of that day it looked wonderfully fine. I liked the name,--the
Petit Hotel Montmorenci,--for I knew enough of French history to know
that Montmorenci had always been a great name in France. Then it was the
favorite resort of Americans; and although I was learning the phrases
in Blagdon as fast as I could, I still found English by far the most
agreeable means of communication for everything beyond an appeal to the
waiter for more wood or a clean towel. Table d'Hote, too, brought us
all together, with an abundant, if not a rich, harvest of personal
experiences gathered during the day from every quarter of the teeming
city. Bradford was there with his handsome face and fine figure,--an old
resident, as it then seemed to me; for he had been abroad two years, and
could speak what sounded to my ears as French-like as any French I had
ever heard. Poor fellow! scarce three years had passed when he laid him
down to his last sleep in a convent of Jerusalem, without a friend to
smooth his pillow or listen to his last wishes. Of most of the others
the names have escaped me; but I shall never forget how wide I opened
my eyes, one evening, at the assertion of a new-comer, that he had done
more for the enlightenment of France than any man living or dead. The
incomparable gravity with which the assertion was made drew every eye to
the speaker, who, after enjoying our astonishment for a while, told us
that he had been the first to send out a whaler from Havre, and had
secured almost a monopoly of the oil-trade. Some years afterwards I made
a passage with his brother, and learned from him the history of
this Yankee enterprise, which had filled two capacious purses, and
substituted the harpoon for the pruning-knife, the whale-ship for the
olive-orchard, in the very stronghold of the emblem of peace; and now
the collier with his pickaxe has driven them both from the field. But
the Petit Hotel Montmorenci did not wait for the change. Its broad court
was never enlivened by gas. Its tables and mantels were decked to the
last hour with the alabaster whiteness of those pure wax tapers which
shed such a soft light upon your book, and grew up into such formidable
items in your bills. A long passage--one of those luxuries of rainy,
muddy Paris, lined with stores that you cannot help lingering over, if
for nothing else, to wonder at the fertility of the human brain when it
makes itself the willing minister of human caprice--covers the whole
space which the hotel stood on, and unites the Neuve St. Marc with the
once distant Boulevard.

As I passed the porter's lodge, he handed me a letter. The hand was one
that I had never seen before; the address was in French; and the seal,
red wax thinly spread, but something which had been put on it before it
was cool had entirely effaced the impress: as I afterwards learned, it
was the profile of Washington. I opened it, and judge my surprise and
delight on reading the following words:--

"Paris, Thursday.

"I am very sorry not to have had the pleasure to see you when you have
called this morning, my dear Sir. My stay in town will be short. But you
will find me to-morrow from nine in the morning until twelve. I hope we
shall see you soon at La Grange, which I beg of you to consider as
your home, being that of your grandfather's most intimate friend and


It was nearly eleven when I reached the Rue d'Anjou and began for
the first time to mount the broad stairway of a Parisian palace. The
General's apartments were on the entresol, with a separate staircase
from the first landing of the principal one; for his lameness made
it difficult for him to go up-stairs, and the entresol, a half-story
between the ground floor and the first story, when, as was the case
here, high enough in the ceiling, is one of the freest and pleasantest
parts of a French house. His apartments comprised five rooms on a
line,--an antechamber, a dining-room, two parlors, and a bed-room,
with windows on the street,--and the same number of smaller rooms on a
parallel line, with their windows on the court-yard, which served for
his secretary and servants. The furniture throughout was neat and plain:
the usual comfortable arm-chairs and sofas, the indispensable clock and
mirror over the mantelpiece, and in each fireplace a cheerful wood-fire.
There were two or three servants in the antechamber, well-dressed, but
not in livery; and in the parlor, into which I was shown on handing my
card, two or three persons waiting for an audience. Fortunately for me,
they were there on business, and the business was soon despatched; and
passing, in turn, into the reception parlor, I found myself in the
presence of the friend of Washington and my grandfather.

He received me so cordially, with such kind inquiries into the object
and cause of my journey, such a fatherly interest in my plans and aims,
such an earnest repetition of the invitation he had given me in his note
to look upon La Grange as my home, that I felt at once that I was no
longer without a guide and protector in a foreign land. It was some time
before I could observe him closely enough to get a just idea of his
appearance; for I had never before been consciously in the presence of
a man who had filled so many pages of real history, and of the history
which above all others I was most interested in. I felt as if a veil had
been suddenly lifted, and the great men I had read of and dreamed of
were passing before me. There were the features which, though changed,
had so often called up a smile of welcome to the lips of Washington;
there was the man who had shared with my grandfather the perils of the
Brandywine and Monmouth, the long winter encampment, and the wearisome
summer march; the man whom Napoleon had tried all the fascinations of
his art upon, and failed to lure him from his devotion to the cause of
freedom; whom Marat and Robespierre had marked out for destruction, and
kings and emperors leagued against in hatred and fear. It was more like
a dream than a reality, and for the first twenty minutes I was almost
afraid to stir for fear I might wake up and find the vision gone. But
when I began to look at him as a being of real flesh and blood, I found
that Ary Scheffer's portrait had not deceived me. Features, expression,
carriage, all were just as it had taught me to expect them, and it
seemed to me as if I had always known him. The moment I felt this I
began to feel at my ease; and though I never entirely lost the feeling
that I had a living chapter of history before me, I soon learned to look
upon him as a father.

As I was rising to go, a lady entered the room, and, without waiting for
an introduction, held out her hand so cordially that I knew it must be
one of his daughters. It was Madame de Lasteyrie, who, like her mother
and sister, had shared his dungeon at Olmuetz. Her English, though
perfectly intelligible, was not as fluent as her father's, but she had
no difficulty in saying some pleasant things about family friendship
which made me very happy. She lived in the same street, though not in
the same house with the General, and that morning my good-fortune had
brought the whole family together at No. 6.

The occasion was a singular one. One of those heartless speculators to
whom our Government has too often given free scope among the Indian
tribes of our borders had brought to France a party of Osages, on
an embassy, as he gave them to understand, but in reality with the
intention of exhibiting them, very much as Van Amburgh exhibits his wild
beasts. General Lafayette was determined, if possible, to counteract
this abominable scheme; but as, unfortunately, there was no one who
could interpret for him but the speculator himself, he found it
difficult to make the poor Indians understand their real position. He
had already seen and talked with them, and was feeling very badly at not
being able to do more. This morning he was to receive them at his house,
and his own family, with one or two personal friends, had been invited
to witness the interview.

Madame de Lasteyrie was soon followed by her daughters, and in a few
moments I found myself shaking some very pretty hands, and smiled upon
by some very pretty faces. It was something of a trial for one who had
never been in a full drawing-room in his life, and whom Nature had
predestined to _mauvaise honte_ to the end of his days. Still I made the
best of it, and as there is nothing so dreadful, after all, in a bright
eye and rosy lip, and the General's invitation to look upon his house as
my home was so evidently to be taken in its literal interpretation, I
soon began to feel at my ease.

The rooms gradually filled. Madame de Maubourg came in soon after her
sister, and, as I was talking to one of the young ladies, a gentleman
with a countenance not altogether unlike the General's, though nearly
bald, and with what was left of his hair perfectly gray, came up and
introduced himself to me as George Lafayette. It was the last link in
the chain. The last letter that my grandfather ever wrote to General
Lafayette had been about a project which they had formed at the close
of the war, to bring up their sons--"the two George Washingtons"
--together; and as soon after General Greene's death as the necessary
arrangement could be made, my poor uncle was sent to France and placed
under the General's care. It was of him that General Washington had
written to Colonel Wadsworth, "But should it turn out differently, and
Mrs. Greene, yourself, and Mr. Rutledge" (General Greene's executors)
"should think proper to intrust my namesake, G.W. Greene, to my care,
I will give him as good an education as this country (I mean North
America) will afford, and will bring him up to either of the genteel
professions that his friends may choose or his own inclination shall
lead him to pursue, at my own cost and charge." "He is a lively boy,"
wrote General Knox to Washington, on returning from putting him on board
the French packet, "and, with a good education, will probably be an
honor to the name of his father and the pride of his friends."

I may be pardoned for dwelling a moment on the scanty memorials of one
whose name is often mentioned in the letters of Washington, and whose
early promise awakened the fondest expectations. He was a beautiful boy,
if the exquisite little miniature before me may be trusted, blending
sweetly the more characteristic traits of his father and mother in his
face, in a way that must have made him very dear to both. With the
officers and soldiers he was a great favorite, and it cost his father a
hard effort to deny himself the gratification of having him always with
him at camp during the winter. But the sense of paternal duty prevailed,
and as soon as he was thought old enough to profit by it, he was put
under the charge of Dr. Witherspoon at Princeton. "I cannot omit
informing you," writes General Washington, in 1783, "that I let no
opportunity slip to inquire after your son George at Princeton, and
that it is with pleasure I hear he enjoys good health, and is a fine,
promising boy." He remained in France till 1792, when his mother's
anxiety for his safety overcame her desire for the completion of his
studies, and she wrote to Gouverneur Morris, who was then in France, to
send him home. "Mr. Jefferson," reads the autograph before me, "presents
his most respectful compliments to Mrs. Greene, and will with great
pleasure write to Mr. Morris on the subject of her son's return,
forwarding her letter at the same time. He thinks Mrs. Greene concluded
that he should return by the way of London. If he is mistaken, she will
be so good as to correct him, as his letter to Mr. Morris will otherwise
be on that supposition." He returned a large, vigorous, athletic man,
full of the scenes he had witnessed, and ready to engage in active life
with the ardor of his age and the high hopes which his name authorized;
for it was in the days of Washington and Hamilton and Knox, men who
extended to the son the love they had borne to the father. But his first
winter was to be given to his home, to his mother and sisters; and
there, while pursuing too eagerly his favorite sport of duck-shooting
from a canoe on the Savannah, his boat was overset, and, though his
companion escaped by clinging to the canoe, he was borne down by the
weight of his accoutrements and drowned. The next day the body was
recovered, and the vault which but six years before had prematurely
opened its doors to receive the remains of the father was opened again
for the son. Not long after, his family removed to Cumberland Island and
ceased to look upon Savannah as their burial-place; and when, for the
first time, after the lapse of more than thirty years, and at the
approach of Lafayette on his last memorable visit to the United States,
a people awoke from their lethargy and asked where the bones of the hero
of the South had been laid, there was no one to point out their
resting-place. Happy, if what the poet tells us be true, and "still in our
ashes live their wonted fires," that they have long since mingled
irrevocably with the soil of the land that he saved, and can never become
associated with a movement that has been disgraced by the vile flag of

But to return to the Rue d'Anjou. A loud noise in the street announced
the approach of the Indians, whose appearance in an open carriage had
drawn together a dense crowd of sight-loving Parisians; and in a few
moments they entered, decked out in characteristic finery, but without
any of that natural grace and dignity which I had been taught to look
for in the natives of the forest. The General received them with the
dignified affability which was the distinctive characteristic of his
manner under all circumstances; and although there was nothing in the
occasion to justify it, I could not help recalling Madame de Stael's
comment upon his appearance at Versailles, on the fearful fifth of
October:--"M. de la Fayette was perfectly calm; nobody ever saw him
otherwise." Withdrawing with them into an inner room, he did his best,
as he afterwards told me, to prevail upon them to return home, though
not without serious doubts of the honesty of their interpreter. It was
while this private conference was going on that I got my first sight of
Cooper,--completing my morning's experience by exchanging a few words
with the man, of all others among my countrymen, whom I had most wished
to know. Meanwhile the table in the dining-room was spread with cakes
and preserves, and before the company withdrew, they had a good
opportunity of convincing themselves, that, if the American Indian had
made but little progress in the other arts of civilization, he had
attained to a full appreciation of the virtues of sweetmeats and pastry.

I cannot close this portion of my story without relating my second
interview with my aboriginal countrymen, not quite so satisfactory as
the first, but at least with its amusing, or rather its laughable side.
I was living in Siena, a quiet old Tuscan town, with barely fifteen
thousand inhabitants to occupy a circuit of wall that had once held
fifty,--but with all the remains of its former greatness about it, noble
palaces, a cathedral second in beauty to that of Milan alone, churches
filled with fine pictures, an excellent public library, (God's blessing
be upon it, for it was in one of its dreamy alcoves that I first read
Dante,) a good opera in the summer, and good society all the year round.
Month was gliding after month in happy succession. I had dropped readily
into the tranquil round of the daily life, had formed many acquaintances
and two or three intimate ones, and, though reminded from time to time
of the General by a paternal letter, had altogether forgotten the
specimens of the children of the forest whom I had seen under his roof.
One evening--I do not remember the month, though I think it was late in
the autumn--I had made up my mind to stay at home and study, and was
just sitting down to my books, when a friend came in with the air of a
man who had something very interesting to say.

"Quick, quick! shut your book, and come with me to the theatre."

"Impossible! I'm tired, and, moreover, have something to do which I must
do to-night."

"To-morrow night will do just as well for that, but not for the


"Because there are some of your countrymen here who are going to be
exhibited on the stage, and the Countess P---- and all your friends want
you to come and interpret for them."

"Infinitely obliged. And pray, what do you mean by saying that some of
my countrymen are to be exhibited on the stage? Do you take Americans
for mountebanks?"

"No, I don't mean that; but it is just as I tell you. Some Americans
will appear on the stage to-night and make a speech in American, and you
must come and explain it to us."

I must confess, that, at first, my dignity was a little hurt at the idea
of an exhibition of Americans; but a moment's reflection convinced me
that I had no grounds for offence, and all of a sudden it occurred to
me that the "Americans" might be my friends of the Rue d'Anjou, whose
"guide and interpreter," though hardly their "friend," had got them
down as far as Siena on the general embassy. I was resolved to see, and
accordingly exchanging my dressing-gown and slippers for a dress-box
costume, I accompanied my friend to the theatre. My appearance at the
pit-door was the signal for nods and beckonings from a dozen boxes; but
as no one could dispute the superior claims of the Countess P----, I soon
found myself seated in the front of her Ladyship's box, and the chief
object of attention till the curtain rose.

"And now, my dear G----, tell us all about these strange countrymen
of yours,--how they live,--whether it is true that they eat one
another,--what kind of houses they have,--how they treat their
women,--and everything else that we ought to know."

Two or three years later, when Cooper began to be translated, they would
have known better; but now nothing could convince them that I was not
perfectly qualified to answer all their questions and stand interpreter
between my countrymen and the audience. Fortunately, I had read Irving's
beautiful paper in the "Sketch-Book," and knew "The Last of the
Mohicans" by heart; and putting together, as well as I could, the ideas
of Indian life I had gained from these sources, I accomplished my task
to the entire satisfaction of my interrogators. At last the curtain
rose, and, though reduced in number, and evidently much the worse for
their protracted stay in the land of civilization and brandy, there
they were, the very Osages I had seen at the good old General's. The
interpreter came forward and told his story, making them chiefs of rank
on a tour of pleasure. And a burly-looking fellow, walking up and down
the stage with an air that gave the lie to every assertion of the
interpreter, made a speech in deep gutturals to the great delight of
the listeners. Fortunately for me, the Italian love of sound kept my
companions still till the speech was ended, and then, just as they were
turning to me for a translation, the interpreter announced his intention
of translating it for them himself. Nothing else, I verily believe,
could have saved my reputation, and enabled me to retain my place as a
native-born American. When the exhibition was over,--and even with the
ludicrousness of my part of it, to me it was a sad one,--I went behind
the scenes to take a nearer view of these poor victims of avarice. They
were sitting round a warming-pan, looking jaded and worn, brutalized
beyond even what I had first imagined. It was my last sight of them, and
I was glad of it; how far they went, and how many of them found their
way back to their native land, I never was able to learn.

Before I left the Rue d'Anjou, it was arranged, that, as soon as I had
seen a little more of Paris, I should go to La Grange. "One of the young
ladies will teach you French," said the General, "and you can make your
plans for the winter at your leisure."


It was on a bright autumn morning that I started for the little village
of Rosay,--some two leagues from Paris, and the nearest point by
_diligence_ to La Grange. A railroad passes almost equally near to
it now, and the French _diligence_, like its English and American
counterpart, the stage-coach, has long since been shorn of its honors.
Yet it was a pleasant mode of travelling, taking you from place to place
in a way to give you a good general idea of the country you were
passing through, and bringing you into much closer relations with your
fellow-travellers than you can form in a rail-car. There was the crowd
at the door of the post-house where you stopped to change horses, and
the little troop of wooden-shoed children that followed you up the
hill, drawling out in unison, "_Un peu de charite, s'il vous plait_,"
gradually quickening their pace as the horses began to trot, and
breaking all off together and tumbling in a heap as they scrambled for
the _sous_ that were thrown out to them.

For a light, airy people, the French have a wonderful facility in making
clumsy-looking vehicles. To look at a _diligence_, you would say that it
was impossible to guide it through a narrow street, or turn it into a
gate. The only thing an American would think of likening it to would be
three carriages of different shapes fastened together. First came the
_Coupe_, in shape like an old-fashioned chariot, with a seat for three
persons, and glass windows in front and at the sides that gave you a
full view of everything on the road. This was the post of honor, higher
in price, and, on long journeys, always secured a day or two beforehand.
Not the least of its advantages was the amusement it afforded you in
watching the postilion and his horses,--a never-failing source of
merriment; and what to those who know how important it is, in a set of
hungry travellers, to secure a good seat at table, the important
fact that the _coupe_-door was the first door opened, and the
_coupe_-passengers received as the most distinguished personages of the
party. The _Interieur_ came next: somewhat larger than our common coach,
with seats for six, face to face, two good windows at the sides, and
netting above for parcels of every kind and size: a comfortable place,
less exposed to jolts than the _coupe_ even, and much to be desired, if
you could but make sure of a back-corner and an accommodating companion
opposite to you. Last of all was the _Rotonde_, with its entrance from
the rear, its seats length-wise, room for six, and compensating in part
for its comparative inferiority in other respects by leaving you free
to get in and out as you chose, without consulting the conductor. This,
however, was but the first story, or the rooms of state of this castle
on wheels. On a covered dicky, directly above the _coupe_, and thus on
the very top of the whole machine, was another row of passengers, with
the conductor in front, looking down through the dust upon the world
beneath them, not very comfortable when the sun was hot, still less
comfortable of a rainy day, but just in the place which of all others
a real traveller would wish to be in at morning or evening or of a
moonlight night. The remainder of the top was reserved for the baggage,
carefully packed and covered up securely from dust and rain.

I had taken the precaution to engage a seat in the _coupe_ the day
before I set out. Of my companions, I am sorry to say, I have not the
slightest recollection. But the road was good,--bordered, as so many
French roads are, with trees, and filled with a thousand objects full of
interest to a young traveller. There was the _roulage_: an immense cart
filled with goods of all descriptions, and drawn by four or five horses,
ranged one before another, each decked with a merry string of bells, and
generally rising in graduated proportions from the full-sized leader
to the enormous thill horse, who bore the heat and burden of the day.
Sometimes half a dozen of them would pass in a row, the drivers walking
together and whiling away the time with stories and songs. Now and then
a post-chaise would whirl by with a clattering of wheels and cracking of
whip that were generally redoubled as it came nearer to the _diligence_,
and sank again, when it was passed, into comparative moderation both of
noise and speed. There were foot travellers, too, in abundance; and as
I saw them walking along under the shade of the long line of trees
that bordered the road, I could not help thinking that this thoughtful
provision for the protection of the traveller was the most pleasing
indication I had yet seen of a country long settled.

While I was thus looking and wondering, and drawing perhaps the hasty
comparisons of a novice, I saw a gentleman coming towards us with a
firm, quick step, his blue surtout buttoned tight over his breast, a
light walking-stick in his hand, and with the abstracted air of a man
who saw something beyond the reach of the bodily eye. It was Cooper,
just returning from a visit to the General, and dreaming perhaps of
his forest-paths or the ocean. His carriage with his family was coming
slowly on behind. A day earlier and I should have found them all at La

It was evident that the good people of Rosay were accustomed to the
sight of travellers on their way to La Grange with a very small stock of
French; for I had hardly named the place, when a brisk little fellow,
announcing himself as the guide of all the _Messieurs Americains_,
swung my portmanteau upon his back and set out before me at the regular
jog-trot of a well-trained porter. The distance was but a mile, the
country level, and we soon came in sight of the castle. Castle, indeed,
it was, with its pointed Norman towers, its massive walls, and broad
moat,--memorials of other days,--and already gray with age before the
first roof-tree was laid in the land which its owner had helped to build
up to a great nation. On a hill-side its appearance would have been
grand. As it was, it was impressive, and particularly as first seen
from the road. The portcullis was gone, but the arched gateway still
remained, flanked by towers that looked sombre and stern, even amidst
the deep green of the ivy which covered the left tower almost to the
battlements. I was afterwards told that the ivy itself had a special
significance,--having been planted by Charles Fox, during a visit to La
Grange not long before his death. And Fox, it will be remembered, had
exerted all his eloquence to induce the English Government to demand the
liberation of Lafayette from Olmuetz,--an act which called down upon him
at the time the bitterest invectives of party rhetoric, but which the
historian of England now records as a bright page in the life of one of
her greatest men. Ah, how different would our record be, if we could
always follow our instinct of immortality, and in all our actions look
thoughtfully forward to the judgment of the future!

Passing under the massive arch, I found myself in the castle court.
Three sides of the edifice were still standing, darkened, indeed, and
distained by the winds and rains of centuries, but with an air of modern
comfort and neatness about the doors and windows that seemed more in
keeping than the moat and towers with the habits of the present day.
The other curtain had been thrown down years before,--how or why nobody
could tell me, but not improbably in some of the domestic wars which
fill and defile the annals of mediaeval Europe. In those days the loss
of it must have been a serious one; but for the modern occupant it was a
real gain,--letting in the air and sunlight, and opening a pleasant view
of green plantations from every window of the court.

A servant met me at the main entrance, a broad stairway directly
opposite the gate, and, taking my card, led me up to a spacious hall,
where he asked me to wait while he went to announce my arrival to
the General. The hall was a large oblong room, plainly, but neatly
furnished, with a piano at one end, its tessellated oaken floor highly
polished, and communicating by folding-doors with an inner room, in
which I caught a glimpse of a bright wood-fire, and a portrait of Bailly
over the mantel. On the wall, to the left of the folding-doors, was
suspended an American flag with its blue field of stars and its red and
white stripes looking down upon me in a way that made my American veins

But I had barely time to look around me before I heard a heavy step on
the stairs, and the next moment the General entered. This time he gave
me a French greeting, pressing me in his arms and kissing me on both
cheeks. "We were expecting you," said he, "and you are in good season
for dinner. Let me show you your room."

If I had had my choice of all the rooms in the castle, I should have
chosen the very one that had been assigned me. It was on the first--not
the ground--floor, at the end of a long vaulted gallery and in a tower.
There was a deep alcove from the bed,--a window looking down upon the
calm waters of the moat, and giving glimpses, through the trees, of
fields and woods beyond,--a fireplace with a cheerful fire, which had
evidently been kindled the moment my arrival was known,--the tessellated
floor with its waxen gloss,--and the usual furniture of a French
bed-room, a good table and comfortable chairs. A sugar-bowl filled
with sparkling beet sugar, and a decanter of fresh water, on the
mantel-piece, would have shown me, if there had been nothing else to
show it, that I was in France. The General looked round the room to make
sure that all was comfortably arranged for me, and then renewing his
welcome, and telling me that the castle-bell would ring for dinner in
about half an hour, left me to take possession of my quarters and change
my dress.

If I had not been afraid of getting belated, I should have sat down
awhile to collect my thoughts and endeavor to realize where I was. But
as it was, I could do little more than unpack my trunk, arrange my books
and writing-materials on the table, and change my dusty clothes, before
the bell rang. Oh, how that bell sounded through the long corridor from
its watch-tower over the gateway! And how I shrank back when I found
myself on the threshold of the hall and saw the inner room full! The
General must have divined my feelings; for, the moment he saw me, he
came forward to meet me, and, taking me by the arm, presented me to all
the elders of the party in turn. He apparently supposed, that, with
the start I had had in the Rue d'Anjou, I should make my way among the
younger ones myself.

It was a family circle covering three generations: the General, his son
and daughter-in-law and two daughters, and ten grandchildren,--among
whom I was glad to see some of both sexes sufficiently near my own age
to open a very pleasant prospect for me whenever I should have learnt
French enough to feel at home among them. Nor was the domestic character
of the group broken by the presence of a son of Casimir Perier, who was
soon to marry George Lafayette's eldest daughter, the Count de Segur,
the General's uncle, though but a month or two his elder, and the Count
de Tracy, father of Madame George de Lafayette, and founder of the
French school of Ideology, companions, both of them, of the General's
youth, and, at this serene close of a life of strange vicissitudes and
bitter trials, still his friends. Levasseur, his secretary, who had
accompanied him in his visit to the United States, with his German wife,
a young gentleman whose name I have forgotten, but who was the private
tutor of young Jules de Lasteyrie, and Major Frye, an English half-pay
officer, of whom I shall have a good deal more to say by-and-by,
completed the circle. We formed a long procession to the dining-room,
and I shall never forget how awkward I felt on finding myself walking,
with the General's arm in mine, at the head of it. There was a certain
air of high breeding, of respect for others founded on self-respect, and
a perfect familiarity with all the forms of society, which relieved
me from much of my embarrassment by making me feel instinctively that
nobody would take unpleasant notice of it. Still, that first dinner was
a trial to my nerves, though I do not remember that the trial interfered
with my appetite. It was served, of course, in courses, beginning with
soup and ending with fruit. Most of the dishes, as I afterwards learned,
were the produce of the farm, and they certainly bore good witness to
the farmer's judgment and skill. The General was a hearty eater, as most
Frenchmen are; but he loved to season his food with conversation, and,
much as he relished his meals, he seemed to relish the pleasant
talk between the courses still more. As I was unable to follow the
conversation of the table, I came in for a large share of the General's
attention, who would turn to me every now and then with something
pleasant to say. He had had the consideration, too, to place one of the
young ladies next to me, directly on my right, as I was on his; and her
English, though not perfectly fluent, was fluent enough to enable us to
keep up a lively interlude.

On returning to the drawing-room, the General led me up to a portrait of
my grandfather, and indulged himself for a while in endeavoring to trace
a resemblance between us. I say indulged; for he often, down to the last
time that I ever saw him, came back to this subject, and seemed to
take a peculiar pleasure in it. He had been warmly attached to General
Greene, and the attachment which both of them bore to Washington served
to strengthen their attachment to each other. This portrait, a copy
from Peale, had been one of the fruits of his last visit to the United
States, and hung, with those of some other personal friends,--great men
all of them,--on the drawing-room wall. His Washington was a bronze from
Houdon's bust, and stood opposite the mantel-piece on a marble pedestal.
Conversation and music filled up the rest of the evening, and before
I withdrew for the night it had been arranged that I should begin my
French the next morning, with one of the young ladies for teacher. And
thus ended my first day at La Grange.


The daily life at La Grange was necessarily systematic. The General's
position compelled him to see a great deal of company and exposed him to
constant interruptions. He kept a kind of open table, at which part
of the faces seemed to be changing every day. Then there were his own
children, with claims upon his attention which he was not disposed to
deny, and a large family of grandchildren to educate, upon all of whose
minds he wished to leave personal impressions of their intercourse with
him which should make them feel how much he loved and cherished them
all. Fortunately, the size of the castle made it easy to keep the family
rooms distant from the rooms of the guests; and a judicious division
of time enabled him to preserve a degree of freedom in the midst of
constraint, which, though the rule in Europe, American hosts in town or
country have very little conception of.

Every one rose at his own hour, and was master of his time till eleven.
If he wanted an early breakfast, he could have a cup of coffee
or chocolate or milk in his room for the asking. But the family
breakfast-hour was at eleven, a true French breakfast, and attended with
all the forms of dinner except in dress. The castle-bell was rung; the
household collected in the parlor; and all descended in one order to the
dining-room. It was pleasant to see this morning gathering. The General
was almost always among the first to come in and take his stand by
the fireplace, with a cordial greeting for each guest in turn. As his
grandchildren entered, they went up to offer their morning salutations
to him first of all, and there was the paternal kiss on the forehead and
a pleasant word for each. His son and daughters generally saw him in his
own room before they came down.

Breakfast was a cheerful meal, served in courses like dinner, and
seasoned with conversation, in which every one was free to take a part
or listen, as he felt disposed. There was no hurry, no confusion about
it; all sat down and rose at the same time; and as every one that worked
at all had evidently done part of his day's work before he came to
table, all came with good appetites. Then came the family walk, all
starting out in a group, but always sure to break up into smaller groups
as they went on: the natural law of affinities never failing to make
itself felt, and they who found most pleasure in each other's society
generally ending their walk together. Sometimes the General would come a
little way with us, but soon turned off to the farm, or dropped behind
and went back to his books and letters. An hour in the grounds passed
quickly,--too quickly, I often used to think; and then, unless, as
occasionally happened, there was an excursion on foot which all were
to take part in, the members of the family withdrew to their own
apartments, and the guests were left free to fill up the time till
dinner as they chose. With books, papers, and visits from room to room,
or strolls about the grounds, the hours never lagged; and much as one
day seemed like another, there was always something of its own to
remember it by. Of course, this regularity was not the result of
chance. Behind the visible curtain was the invisible spirit guiding
and directing all. It was no easy task to provide abundantly, and yet
judiciously, for a family always large, but which might at any moment
be almost doubled without an hour's notice. The farm, as I have already
said, furnished a full proportion of the daily supplies, and the General
was the farmer. But the daily task of distribution and arrangement fell
to the young ladies, each of whom took her week of housekeeping in turn.
The very first morning I was admitted behind the scenes. "If you want
anything before breakfast," said one of the young ladies, as the evening
circle was breaking up, "come down into the butler's room and get it."
And to the butler's room I went; and there, in a calico fitted as neatly
as the rich silk of the evening before, with no papers in her hair, with
nothing but a richer glow to distinguish the morning from the evening
face, with laughing eyes and busy hands, issuing orders and inspecting
dishes, stood the very girl with whom I was to begin at nine my
initiation into the mysteries of French. There must have been something
peculiar in the grass which the cows fed on at La Grange; for I used to
go regularly every morning for my cup of milk, and it never disagreed
with me.


Oh, that lesson of French! Two seats at the snug little writing-table,
and only one witness of my blunders; for nobody ever thought of coming
into the drawing-room before the breakfast-bell. Unfortunately for me,
Ollendorff had not yet published his thefts from Manesca; and instead of
that brisk little war of question and answer, which loosens the tongue
so readily to strange sounds and forms the memory so promptly to the
combinations of a new idiom, I had to struggle on through the scanty
rules and multitudinous exceptions of grammar, and pick my way with the
help of a dictionary through the harmonious sentences of "Telemaque."
And never had sentences seemed so harmonious to my ears before; and
never, I fear, before had my young friend's patience been so sorely
tried, or her love of fun put under so unnatural a restraint. "_Calypso
ne pouvait se consoler_," over and over and over again, her rosy lips
moving slowly in order to give distinctness to every articulation, and
her blue eyes fairly dancing with repressed laughter at my awkward
imitation. If my teacher's patience could have given me a good
pronunciation, mine would have been perfect. Day after day she came back
to her task, and ever as the clock told nine would meet me at the door
with the same genial smile.

Nearly twenty years afterwards I found myself once more in Paris, and at
a large party at the house of the American Minister, the late Mr. King.
As I was wandering through the rooms, looking at group after group of
unknown faces, my eye fell upon one that I should have recognized at
once as that of my first teacher of French, if it had not seemed to me
impossible that twenty years could have passed over it so lightly.

"Who is that lady?" I asked of a gentleman near me, whom it was
impossible not to set down at once for an American.

"Why, that is Madame de ----, a grand-daughter of General Lafayette."

I can hardly account, at this quiet moment, for the sudden impulse that
seized me; but resist it I could not; and walking directly up to her, I
made my lowest bow, and, without giving her time to look me well in
the face, repeated, with all the gravity I could command, "_Calypso ne
pouvait se consoler du depart d'Ulysse_."

"O! Monsieur Greene," said she, holding out both her hands, "it must be


General Lafayette had just entered his seventy-first year. In his
childhood he had been troubled by a weakness of the chest which gave his
friends some anxiety. But his constitution was naturally good, and air,
exercise, and exposure gradually wore away every trace of his original
debility. In person he was tall and strongly built, with broad
shoulders, large limbs, and a general air of strength, which was rather
increased than diminished by an evident tending towards corpulency.
While still a young man, his right leg--the same, I believe, that had
been wounded in rallying our broken troops at the Brandywine--was
fractured by a fall on the ice, leaving him lame for the rest of his
days. This did not prevent him, however, from walking about his farm,
though it cut him off from the use of the saddle, and gave a halt to his
gait, which but for his dignity of carriage would have approached to
awkwardness. Indeed, he had more dignity of bearing than any man I ever
saw. And it was not merely the dignity of self-possession, which early
familiarity with society and early habits of command may give even to
an ordinary man, but that elevation of manner which springs from an
habitual elevation of thought, bearing witness to the purity of its
source, as a clear eye and ruddy cheek bear witness to the purity of the
air you daily breathe. In some respects he was the mercurial Frenchman
to the last day of his life; yet his general bearing, that in which
he comes oftenest to my memory, was of calm earnestness, tempered and
mellowed by quick sympathies.

His method of life was very regular,--the regularity of thirty years
of comparative retirement, following close upon fifteen years of active
public life, begun at twenty in the army of Washington, and ending in a
Prussian and Austrian dungeon at thirty-five.

His private apartments consisted of two rooms on the second floor. The
first was his bed-room, a cheerful, though not a large room, nearly
square, with a comfortable fireplace, and a window looking out upon the
lawn and woods behind the castle. Just outside of the bed-room, and the
first object that struck your eye on approaching it from the gallery,
was a picture by one of his daughters, representing the burly turnkey
of Olmuetz in the act of unlocking his dungeon-door. "It is a good
likeness," said the General to me, the first time that he took me to his
rooms,--"a very good likeness. I remember the features well." From the
bed-room a door opened into a large turret-room, well lighted and airy,
and which, taking its shape from the tower in which it stood, was
almost a perfect circle. This was the General's library. The books were
arranged in open cases, filling the walls from floor to ceiling, and
with a neatness and order which revealed an artistic appreciation of
their effect. It was lighted by two windows, one opening on the lawn,
the other on the farm-yards, and both, from the thickness of the
walls, looking like deep recesses. In the window that looked upon the
farm-yards was the General's writing-table and seat. A spy-glass lay
within reach, enabling him to overlook the yard-work without rising from
his chair; and on the table were his farm-books, with the record of
crops and improvements entered in regular order with his own hand.
Charles Sumner, who visited La Grange last summer, tells me that they
lie there still.

The library was miscellaneous, many of the books being
presentation-copies, and most of them neatly bound. Its predominant
character, as nearly as I can recollect, was historical; the history in
which he had borne so important a part naturally coming in for a full
share. Though not a scholar from choice, General Lafayette loved books,
and was well read. His Latin had stood him in stead at Olmuetz for his
brief communication with his surgeon; and I have a distinct impression,
though I cannot vouch for the correctness of it, that he never dropped
it altogether. His associations were too much among men of thought as
well as men of action, and the responsibilities that weighed upon him
were too grave, to permit so conscientious a man to neglect the aid of
books. Of the historians of our Revolution, he preferred Ramsay, who
had, as he said, put everything into his two volumes, and abridged as
well as Eutropius. It was, perhaps, the presence of something of the
same quality that led him to give the preference, among the numerous
histories of the French Revolution, to Mignet, though, in putting
him into my hands, he cautioned me against that dangerous spirit
of fatalism, which, making man the unconscious instrument of an
irresistible necessity, leaves him no real responsibility for evil or
for good.

It was in this room that he passed the greater part of the time that was
not given to his farm or his guests. I never entered it without finding
him at his desk, with his pen or a book in hand. His correspondence was
so extensive that he was always obliged to keep a secretary, though a
large portion of his letters were written with his own hand. He wrote
rapidly in fact, though not rapidly to the eye; and you were surprised,
in seeing his hand move over the paper, to find how soon it reached the
bottom of the sheet, and how closely it filled it up. His handwriting
was clear and distinct, neither decidedly French nor decidedly
English,--like all his habits and opinions, formed early and never
changed. I have letters of his to my grandfather, written during the
Revolution, and letters of his to myself, written fifty years after it,
in which it is almost impossible to trace the difference between the old
man and the young one. English he seemed to write as readily as French,
although a strong Gallicism would every now and then slip from his pen,
as it slipped from his tongue. "I had to learn in a hurry," said he,
giving me one day the history of his English studies. "I began on my
passage out, as soon as I got over my sea-sickness, and picked up the
rest in camp. I was compelled to write and talk, and so I learned to
write and talk. The officers were very kind and never laughed at me.
After the peace, Colonel Tarleton came over to Paris, and was presented
to the King one day when I happened to be at Court. The King asked him
how I spoke English. 'I cannot say how he speaks it, Sire,' said the
Colonel, 'but I occasionally had the good-luck to pick up some of his
letters that were going the wrong way, and I can assure your Majesty
that they were very well written.'"

His valet was an old soldier, who had served through the Peninsular War,
and who moved about with the orderly gait and quiet air of a man who had
passed his heyday under the forming influences of camp discipline.
He was a most respectable-looking man, as well as a most respectful
servant; and it was impossible to see him busying himself about the
General at his morning toilet, and watch his delicate handling of the
lather-brush and razor, without feeling, that, however true the old
proverb may have been in other cases, Bastien's master was a hero to

The General's dress was always simple, though studiously neat. His
republicanism was of the school of Washington, and would have shrunk
from a public display of a bare neck and shirt-sleeves. Blue was his
usual winter color; a frock-coat in the morning, and a dress-coat for
dinner, and both near enough to the prevailing fashion to escape remark.
He had begun serious life too early to have ever been anything of a
dandy, even if Nature had seen fit to contradict herself so far as to
have intended him for one.

Jewelry I never saw him wear; but there was one little compartment in
his library filled with what in a certain sense might be called jewelry,
and of a kind that he had good reason to be proud of. In one of the
drawers was a sword made out of a key of the Bastile, and presented to
him by the city of Paris. The other key he sent to Washington. When he
was a young man the Bastile was a reality, and those keys still plied
their dismal work at the bidding of a power as insensible to the
suffering it caused as the steel of which they were made. Of the
hundreds who with sinking hearts had heard them turn in their massive
wards, how few had ever come back to tell the tale of their misery!
Lafayette himself, but for the quick wit of a servant-maid, might have
passed there some of the youthful days that he passed at the side of
Washington, and gazed dimly, as at a dream, in the Bastile, at what he
could look back upon as a proud reality in Olmuetz. Another of his relics
was a civic crown, oak-leaf wrought in gold, the gift of the city of
Lyons; but this belonged to a later period, his last visit to Auvergne,
the summer before the Revolution of July, and which called forth as
enthusiastic a display of popular affection as that which had greeted
his last visit to America. But the one which he seemed to prize most was
a very plain pair of eye-glasses, in a simple horn case, if my memory
does not deceive me, but which, in his estimation, neither gold nor
jewels could have replaced, for they had once belonged to Washington.
"He gave them to me," said the General, "on my last visit to Mount

He was an early riser, and his work began the moment he left his pillow.
First came his letters, always a heavy drain upon his time; for he had
been so long a public man that everybody felt free to consult him, and
everybody that consulted him was sure of a polite answer. Then his
personal friends had their claims, some of them running back to youth,
some the gradual accession of later years, and all of them cherished
with that genial and confiding expansiveness which was the great charm
of his private life, and the chief source, when he did err, of his
errors as a public man. Like all the men of Washington's school, he
was systematically industrious; and by dint of system and industry his
immense correspondence was seldom allowed to get the start of him.
Important letters were answered as they came, and minutes or copies of
the answers kept for reference. He seemed to love his pen, and to write
without effort,--never aiming, it is true, at the higher graces of
style, somewhat diffuse, too, both in French and in English, but
easy, natural, idiomatic, and lucid, with the distinctness of clear
conceptions rather than the precision of vigorous conceptions, and a
warmth which in his public letters sometimes rose to eloquence, and in
his private letters often made you feel as if you were listening instead
of reading.

He was fond of anecdote, and told his stories with the fluency of a man
accustomed to public speaking, and the animation and point of a man
accustomed to the society of men of wit as well as of men of action.
His recollections were wonderfully distinct, and it always gave me a
peculiar thrill to hear him talk about the great men he had lived and
acted with in both hemispheres, as familiarly as if he had parted from
them only an hour before. It was bringing history very close to me, and
peopling it with living beings,--beings of flesh and blood, who ate and
drank and slept and wore clothes as we do; for here was one of them, the
friend and companion of the greatest among them all, whom I had known
through books, as I knew them long before I knew him in actual life,
and every one of whose words and gestures seemed to give me a clearer
conception of what they, too, must have been.

Still he never appeared to live in the recollections of his youth, as
most old men do. His life was too active a one for this, and the
great principles he had consecrated it to were too far-reaching and
comprehensive, too full of living, actual interest, too fresh and
vigorous in their vitality, to allow a man of his sanguine and active
temperament to forget himself in the past when there was so much to do
in the present. This gave a peculiar charm to his conversation; for,
no matter what the subject might be, he always talked like a man who
believed what he said, and whose faith, a living principle of thought
and action, was constantly kept in a genial glow by the quickness
and depth of his sympathies. His smile told this; for it was full of
sweetness and gentleness, though with a dash of earnestness about it, an
under-current of serious thought, that made you feel as if you wanted to
look behind it, and reminded you, at times, of a landscape at sunset,
when there is just light enough to show you how many things there are
in it that you would gladly dwell upon, if the day were only a little

His intercourse with his children was affectionate and confiding,--that
with his daughters touchingly so. They had shared with him two years of
his captivity at Olmuetz, and he seemed never to look at them without
remembering it. They had been his companions when he most needed
companionship, and had learnt to enter into his feelings and study his
happiness at an age when most girls are absorbed in themselves. The
effect of this early discipline was never lost. They had found happiness
where few seek it, in self-denial and self-control, a religious
cultivation of domestic affections, and a thoughtful development
of their minds as sources of strength and enjoyment. They were
happy,--happy in what they had done and in what they were
doing,--entering cheerfully upon the serene evening of lives consecrated
to duty, with children around them to love them as they had loved their
father and mother, and that father still with them to tell them that
they had never deceived him.


To an intelligent American visiting London for the first time, few
places of interest will present stronger attractions than the House of
Commons during an animated debate. Commencing its existence with the
first crude ideas of popular liberty in England, steadily advancing in
influence and importance with the increasing wealth and intelligence of
the middling class, until it came to hold the purse and successfully
defend the rights of the people, illustrated for many generations by the
eloquence and the statesmanship of the kingdom, and to-day wielding the
power and directing the destinies of the foremost nation in the world,
it is not strange that an American, speaking the same language, and
proud of the same ancestry, should visit with the deepest interest the
scene of so many and so important transactions. Especially will this be
the case, if by experience or observation he has become familiar with
the course of proceedings in our own legislative assemblies. For,
although the English House of Commons is the parent of all similar
deliberative bodies in the civilized world, yet its rules and
regulations are in many respects essentially unique.

Assuming that many of my readers have never enjoyed the opportunity of
"sitting out a debate" in Parliament, I have ventured to hope that a
description of some of the distinctive features which are peculiar to
the House of Commons, and a sketch of some of its prominent members,
might not be unwelcome.

In 1840 the corner-stone of the New Palace of Westminster was laid, and
at the commencement of the session of 1852 the first official occupation
of the House of Commons took place. The House of Peers was first used in
1847. It is not consistent with the object of this article to speak of
the dimensions and general appearance of this magnificent structure. It
is sufficient to say, that in its architectural design, in its interior
decorations, and in its perfect adaptation to the purposes for which it
was erected, it is alike creditable to the public spirit of the nation,
and to the improved condition of the fine and useful arts in the present

The entrance to the House of Commons is through Westminster Hall. What
wealth of historical recollections is suggested by this name! As,
however, we are dealing with the present, we dare not even touch upon so
fruitful a theme, but must hasten through the grand old hall, remarking
only in passing that it is supposed to have been originally built
in 1097, and was rebuilt by Richard II. in 1398. With a single
exception,--the Hall of Justice in Padua,--it is the largest apartment
unsupported by pillars in the world. Reluctantly leaving this historical
ground, we enter St. Stephen's Hall. This room, rich in architectural
ornaments and most graceful in its proportions, is still further adorned
with statues of "men who rose to eminence by the eloquence and abilities
they displayed in the House of Commons." Who will dispute their claims
to this distinction? The names selected for such honorable immortality
are Selden, Hampden, Falkland, Lord Clarendon, Lord Somers, Sir Robert
Walpole, Lord Chatham, Lord Mansfield, Burke, Fox, Pitt, and Grattan.

We have now reached the Great Central Hall, out of which open two
corridors, one of which leads to the lobby of the House of Lords.
Passing through the other, we find ourselves in the lobby of the House
of Commons. Here we must pause and look about us. We are in a large
apartment brilliantly lighted and richly decorated. As we stand with our
backs to the Great Central Hall, the passage-way to the right conducts
to the library and refreshment rooms, that on the left is the private
entrance of the members through the old cloisters, of Stephen's, that in
front is the main entrance to the floor of the House. In the corner on
our right is a small table, garnished with all the materials for a
cold lunch for the use of those members who have no time for a more
substantial meal in the dining-room. Stimulants of various kinds are
not wanting; but the habits of Englishmen and the presence of vigilant
policemen prevent any abuse of this privilege. The refreshments thus
provided are open to all, and in this qualified sense I may say that I
have lunched with Disraeli, Lord John Russell, and Lord Palmerston.

But the hour has nearly come for opening the debate; members are rapidly
arriving and taking their seats, and we shall do well to decide upon the
best mode of gaining admission to the House. There are a few benches
on the floor reserved, as of right, for peers and their sons, and,
by courtesy, for gentlemen introduced by them. I may be pardoned for
presuming that this high privilege is beyond our reach. Our only
alternative, then, is the galleries. These are, the Speaker's Gallery,
on the south side of the House, and directly opposite the Speaker's
chair, affording room for between twenty and thirty, and the Strangers'
Gallery, behind this, with seats for about sixty. Visitors have only
these limited accommodations. The arrangement deprives members of all
temptation to "speak to the galleries," and is consistent with the
English theory, that all debates in the House should be strictly of a
business character. And as to anything like applause on the part of the
spectators, what punishment known to any criminal code among civilized
nations would be too severe for such an offence?

The American Minister (and of course every representative of a foreign
power) has the right to give two cards of admission, entitling the
bearer of each to a seat in the Speaker's Gallery. But these cards admit
only on a specified evening, and if not used then, are worthless. If
you have called on our distinguished representative at the Court of St.
James, you have probably discovered that his list is full for the next
fortnight at least, and, although the Secretary of Legation politely
asks your name, and promises you the earliest opportunity, you retire
with a natural feeling of disappointment. Many Americans, having only a
few days to spend in London, leave the city without making any further
effort to visit the House of Commons. It would certainly have been well
to forward, in advance of your arrival in London, a written application
to the Minister; but as this has not been done, what remains? Ask your
banker for a note of introduction to some member of the House, and,
armed with this epistle, make your appearance in the lobby. Give the
note, with your card, to that grave, clerical-looking man in a little
box on the left of the main entrance, and patiently await the approach
of the "honorable gentleman." If the Speaker's Gallery is not full, he
will have no difficulty in procuring for you the desired admission; and
if at leisure, he will undoubtedly spend a few moments in pointing out
the distinguished men who may chance to be in attendance. Be sure and
carry an opera-glass. Without this precaution, you will not be able to
study to your satisfaction the faces of the members, for the House is by
no means brilliantly illuminated. If for any reason this last expedient
does not succeed, must we despair for this evening? We are on the
ground, and our engagements may not leave another so good opportunity. I
have alluded to the presence of policemen in the lobby. Do I dream, or
has it been whispered to me, that half a crown, opportunely and adroitly
invested, may be of substantial advantage to the waiting stranger? But
by all means insist on the Speaker's Gallery. The Strangers' Gallery is
less desirable for many reasons, and, being open to everybody who has a
member's order, is almost invariably crowded. At all events, it should
be reserved as a dernier resort. As an illustration of the kindly
feeling towards Americans, I may mention, parenthetically, that I have
known gentlemen admitted to the Speaker's Gallery on their simple
statement to the door-keeper that they were from the United States. On
one of these occasions, the official, a civil personage, but usually
grave to the verge of solemnity,--the very last man you would have
selected as capable of waggery,--assumed a comical counterfeit of
terror, and said,--"Bless me! we must be obliging to Americans, or who
knows what may come of it?"

It should be observed, however, that on a "field night" not one of
the modes of admission which I have described will be of any service.
Nothing will avail you then but a place on the Speaker's list, and even
in that case you must be promptly at your post, for "First come first
served" is the rule.

But we have lingered long enough in the Lobby. Let us take our places
in the Speaker's Gallery,--for the essayist has hardly less power than,
according to Sydney Smith, has the novelist, and a few strokes of the
pen shall show you what many have in vain longed to see.

Once there, our attention is instantly attracted by observing that
almost every member, who is not speaking, wears his hat. This, although
customary, is not compulsory. Parliamentary etiquette only insists
that a member while speaking, or moving from place to place, shall be
uncovered. The gallery opposite the one in which we are seated is for
the use of the reporters. That ornamental brass trellis in the rear
of the reporters, half concealing a party of ladies, is a curious
compromise between what is due to traditional Parliamentary regulations
and the courtesy to which the fair sex is entitled. This relaxation of
the old rules dates only from the erection of the new building.

The perfect order which prevails among members is another marked feature
during the debates. The bewigged and berobed Speaker, seated in his
imposing high-backed chair, seems rather to be retained in his place out
of due deference to time-honored custom than because a presiding officer
is necessary to preserve proper decorum. To be sure, demonstrations
of applause at a good bit, or of discontent with a prosy speaker, are
common, but anything approaching disorder is of rare occurrence.

The adherence to forms and precedents is not a little amusing. Take, for
example, a "division," which corresponds to a call for the Ayes and Noes
with us. To select an instance at random,--there happens this evening to
be a good deal of excitement about some documents which it is alleged
the Ministry dare not produce; so the minority, who oppose the bill
under debate, make a great show of demanding the papers, and, not being
gratified, move to adjourn the debate, with the design of postponing the
passage of the obnoxious measure.

"I move that the debate be adjourned."

"Who seconds?"

"I do."

"Those in the affirmative," etc., etc.

Feeble "Aye."

Most emphatic "No."

"The noes have it."

"No!" "No!"

"Aye!" "Aye!"

"Divide!" "Divide!" in a perfect Babel of orderly confusion.

(Speaker, very solemnly and decidedly,)--

"Strangers must withdraw!"

Is the gallery immediately cleared? Not a bit of it. Every man retains
his place. Some even seem, to my fancy, to look a sort of grim defiance
at the Speaker, as a bold Briton should. It is simply a form, which
many years ago had some meaning, and, having once been used, cannot be
discontinued without putting the Constitution in jeopardy. Five times
this evening, the minority, intent on postponing the debate, call for
a division,--and as many times are strangers gravely admonished to

There are two modes of adjourning the House,--by vote of the members,
and by want of a quorum. The method of procedure in the latter case is
somewhat peculiar, and has, of course, the sanction of many generations.
Suppose that a dull debate on an unimportant measure, numerous
dinner-parties, a fashionable opera, and other causes, have combined to
reduce the number of members in attendance to a dozen. It certainly
is not difficult to decide at a glance that a quorum (forty) is not
present, and I presume you are every instant expecting, in your
innocence, to hear, "Mr. Speaker, I move," etc. Pause a moment, my
impatient friend, too long accustomed to the reckless haste of our
Republican assemblies. Do not, even in thought, tamper with the
Constitution. "The wisdom of our ancestors" has bequeathed another and
undoubtedly a better mode of arriving at the same result. Some member
quietly intimates to the Speaker that forty members are not present.
That dignified official then rises, and, using his cocked hat as an
index or pointer, deliberately counts the members. Discovering, as the
apparent result of careful examination, that there really is no
quorum, he declares the House adjourned and sits down; whereupon the
Sergeant-at-Arms seizes the mace, shoulders it, and marches out,
followed by the Speaker. Then, and not until then, is the ceremony
complete and the House duly adjourned.

This respect for traditional usage admits of almost endless
illustration. One more example must suffice. When the Speaker discovers
symptoms of disorder in the House, he rises in his place and says with
all suitable solemnity, "Unless Honorable Members preserve order, I
shall name names!" and quiet is instantly restored. What mysterious and
appalling consequences would result from persistent disobedience, nobody
in or out of the House has ever known, or probably ever will know,--at
any rate, no Speaker in Parliamentary annals has been compelled to adopt
the dreaded alternative. Shall I be thought wanting in patriotism, if
I venture to doubt whether so simple an expedient would reduce to
submission an insubordinate House of Representatives at Washington?

Like everything else thoroughly English, speaking in the House of
Commons is eminently practical. "The bias of the nation," says Mr.
Emerson, "is a passion for utility." Conceive of a company of gentlemen
agreeing to devote, gratuitously, a certain portion of each year to the
consideration of any questions which may concern the public welfare, and
you have the theory and the practice of the House of Commons. Of course
there are exceptions to this general statement. There are not wanting
constituencies represented by unfit men; but such members are not
allowed to consume the time which belongs of right to men of capacity
and tried ability. The test is sternly, almost despotically applied. A
fair trial is given to a new member. If he is "up to his work," his
name goes on the list of men whom the House will hear. If, however,
his maiden speech is a failure, "farewell, a long farewell" to all his
political aspirations. Few men have risen from such a fall. Now and
then, as in the well-known instances of Sheridan, Disraeli, and some
less prominent names, real genius, aided by dogged determination, has
forced its way upward in spite of early ill-success; but such cases are
very rare. The rule may work occasional injustice, but is it after all
so very unreasonable? "Talking," they contend, "must be done by those
who have something to say."

Everything one sees in the House partakes of this practical tendency.
There are no conveniences for writing. A member who should attempt to
read a manuscript speech would never get beyond the first sentence. Nor
does anybody ever dream of writing out his address and committing it
to memory. In fact, nothing can be more informal than their manner in
debate. You see a member rising with his hat in one hand, and his gloves
and cane in the other. It is as if he had just said to his neighbor, "I
have taken a good deal of interest in the subject under discussion, and
have been at some pains to understand it. I am inclined to tell the
House what I think of it." So you find him on the floor, or "on his
legs," in parliamentary phrase, carrying this intention into effect in
a simple, business-like, straightforward way. But if our friend is very
long, or threatens to be tedious, I fear that unequivocal and increasing
indications of discontent will oblige him to resume his seat in
undignified haste.

Perhaps no feature of the debates in the House of Commons deserves more
honorable mention than the high-toned courtesy which regulates the
intercourse of members.

Englishmen have never been charged with a want of spirit; on the
contrary, they are proverbially "plucky," and yet the House is never
disgraced by those shameful brawls which have given to our legislative
assemblies, state and national, so unenviable a reputation throughout
the civilized world. How does this happen? To Englishmen it does not
seem a very difficult matter to manage. If one member charges another
with ungentlemanly or criminal conduct, he must follow up his charge
and prove it,--in which case the culprit is no longer recognized as a
gentleman; or if he fails to make good his accusation, and neglects
to atone for his offence by ample and satisfactory apologies, he is
promptly "sent to Coventry" as a convicted calumniator. No matter how
high his social position may have been, whether nobleman or commoner,
he shall not escape the disgrace he has deserved. And to forfeit one's
standing among English gentlemen is a punishment hardly less severe
than to lose caste in India. In such a community, what need of duels to
vindicate wounded honor or establish a reputation for courage?

The members of the present House of Commons were elected in the spring
of 1859. Among their number are several men who, in point of capacity,
eloquence, and political experience, will compare not unfavorably with
the ablest statesmen whom England has known for generations. I
have thought that some description of their appearance and mental
characteristics might not be unacceptable to American readers. As the
best mode of accomplishing this object, I shall select an occasion,
which, from the importance of the question under discussion, the deep
interest which it awakened, and the ability with which it was treated,
certainly presented as favorable an opportunity as could ever occur to
form a correct opinion of the best speaking talent in the kingdom. The
debate to which I allude took place early in the month of July, 1860.

My name being fortunately on the first list for the Speaker's Gallery,
I had no difficulty in taking my place the moment the door was open. It
will be readily believed that every seat was soon filled. In front of
the Speaker's Gallery is a single row of seats designed for foreign
ambassadors and peers. The first man to enter it was Mr. Dallas, and he
was presently followed by other members of the diplomatic corps, and
several distinguished noblemen.

It was very interesting to an American that almost the first business of
the evening concerned his own country. Some member of the House asked
Lord John Russell, then Secretary for Foreign Affairs, if he had
received any recent despatches from the United States relating to the
San Juan difficulty. It will be remembered, or would be, but for the
rapid march of more momentous events, that only a short time before,
news had reached England that General Harney, violating the explicit
instructions of General Scott, so wisely and opportunely issued, had
claimed for the United States exclusive jurisdiction over the island
of San Juan. Lord John replied by stating what had been the highly
honorable and judicious policy of General Scott, and the unwarrantable
steps subsequently taken by General Harney,--that Lord Lyons had
communicated information of the conduct of General Harney to President
Buchanan, who had recalled that officer, and had forwarded instructions
to his successor to continue in the course marked out by General Scott.
This gratifying announcement was greeted in the House with hearty
cheers,--a spontaneous demonstration of delight, which proved not only
that the position of affairs on this question was thought to be serious,
but also the genuine desire of Englishmen to remain in amicable
relations with the United States.

To this brief business succeeded the great debate of the session. Let me
endeavor, at the risk of being tedious, to explain the exact question
before the House. Mr. Gladstone, in his speech on the Budget, had
pledged the Ministry to a considerable reduction of the taxes for the
coming year. In fulfilment of this pledge, it had been decided to remit
the duty on paper, thereby abandoning about L1,500,000 of revenue. A
bill to carry this plan into effect passed to its second reading by a
majority of fifty-three. To defeat the measure the Opposition devoted
all its energies, and with such success that the bill passed to its
third reading by the greatly reduced majority of nine. Emboldened by
this almost victory, the Conservatives determined to give the measure
its _coup de grace_ in the House of Lords. The Opposition leaders, Lord
Derby, Lord Lyndhurst, Lord Ellenborough, and others, attacked the bill,
and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, its acknowledged author, with as
much bitterness and severity as are ever considered compatible with the
dignified decorum of that aristocratic body; all the Conservative forces
were rallied, and, what with the votes actually given and the proxies,
the Opposition majority was immense.

Now all this was very easily and very quickly done. The Conservatives
were exultant, and even seemed sanguine enough to believe that the
Ministry had received a fatal blow. But they forgot, in the first flush
of victory, that they were treading on dangerous ground,--that they were
meddling with what had been regarded for centuries as the exclusive
privilege of the House of Commons. English Parliamentary history teaches
no clearer lesson than that the right to pass "Money Bills," without
interference from the House of Lords, has been claimed and exercised by
the House of Commons for several generations. The public was not slow to
take the alarm. To be sure, several causes conspired to lessen somewhat
the popular indignation. Among these were the inevitable expenses of
the Chinese War, the certainty of an increased income tax, if the bill
became a law, and the very small majority which the measure finally
received in the House of Commons.

Nevertheless, the public mind was deeply moved. The perils of such
a precedent were evident enough to any thinking man. Although the
unwearied exertions of Bright, Roebuck, and other leading Radicals,
could not arouse the people to that state of unreasoning excitement in
which these demagogues delight, yet the tone of the press and the spirit
of the public meetings gave proof that the importance of the crisis
was not wholly underrated. These meetings were frequent and largely
attended; inflammatory speeches were made, strong resolutions passed,
and many petitions numerously signed, protesting against the recent
conduct of the Lords, were presented to the popular branch of

In the House of Commons the action was prompt and decided. A committee
was immediately appointed to search for precedents, and ascertain if
such a proceeding was justified by Parliamentary history. The result of
this investigation was anxiously awaited both by the Commons and the
nation. To the disappointment of everybody, the committee, after patient
and protracted research, submitted a report, giving no opinion whatever
on the question, but merely reciting all the precedents that bore on the

It must be confessed that the condition of affairs was not a little
critical. Both the strength of the Ministry and the dignity of the House
of Commons were involved in the final decision. But, unfortunately, the
Ministerial party was far from being a unit on the question. Bright and
the "Manchester School" demanded an uncompromising and defiant attitude
towards the Lords. Lord Palmerston was for asserting the rights and
privileges of the Commons, but for avoiding a collision. Where Mr.
Gladstone would be found could not be precisely predicted; but he was
understood to be deeply chagrined at the defeat of his favorite measure,
and to look upon the action of the Peers as almost a personal insult.
Lord John Russell was supposed to occupy a position somewhere between
the Premier and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. If the leaders were
thus divided in opinion, there was no less diversity of views among
their followers. Some did not at all appreciate the nature or magnitude
of the question, a few sympathized with the Conservatives, and very many
were satisfied that a mistake had been made in sacrificing so large a
source of revenue at a time when the immediate prospect of war with
China and the condition of the national defences rendered it important
to increase, rather than diminish the available funds in the treasury.
The Opposition, of course, were ready to take advantage of any weak
points in the position of their adversaries, and were even hoping that
the Ministerial dissensions might lead to a Ministerial defeat.

It was under these circumstances that Lord Palmerston rose to define
the position of the Ministry, to vindicate the honor and dignity of the
Commons, to avert a collision with the House of Lords, and, in general,
to extricate the councils of the nation from an embarrassing and
dangerous dilemma.

A word about the _personnel_ of the Premier, and a glance at some of his
political antecedents. His Lordship has been for so many years in
public life, and a marked man among English statesmen, that, either by
engraving, photograph, or personal observation, his face is familiar to
many Americans. And, certainly, there is nothing in his features or in
the expression of his countenance to indicate genius or even ability.
He is simply a burly Englishman, of middling height, with an air of
constant good-humor and a very pleasant understanding with himself.
Perhaps the first thing about him which impresses an American,
accustomed at home to dyspeptic politicians and statesmen prematurely
old, is his physical activity. Fancy a man of seventy-six, who has been
in most incessant political life for more than fifty years, sitting out
a debate of ten hours without flinching, and then walking to his house
in Piccadilly, not less than two miles. And his body is not more active
than his mind. He does something more than sit out a debate. Not a word
escapes him when a prominent man is on his legs. Do not be deceived by
his lazy attitude, or his sleepy expression. Not a man in the House
has his wits more thoroughly about him. Ever ready to extricate
his colleagues from an awkward difficulty, to evade a dangerous
question,--making, with an air of transparent candor, a reply in
which nothing is answered,--to disarm an angry opponent with a few
conciliatory or complimentary words, or to demolish him with a little
good-humored raillery which sets the House in a roar; equally skilful
in attack and retreat: such, in a word, is the bearing of this gay and
gallant veteran, from the beginning to the end of each debate, during
the entire session of Parliament. He seems absolutely insensible to
fatigue. "I happened," said a member of the House, writing to a friend,
last summer, "to follow Lord Palmerston, as he left the cloak-room, the
other morning, after a late sitting, and, as I was going his way, I
thought I might as well see how he got over the ground. At first he
seemed a little stiff in the legs; but when he warmed to his work he
began to pull out, and before he got a third of the way he bowled along
splendidly, so that he put me to it to keep him in view. Perhaps in a
few hours after that long sitting and that walk home, and the brief
sleep that followed, the Premier might have been seen standing bolt
upright at one end of a great table in Cambridge House, receiving a
deputation from the country, listening with patient and courteous
attention to some tedious spokesman, or astonishing his hearers by
his knowledge of their affairs and his intimacy with their trade or
business." On a previous night, I had seen Lord Palmerston in his seat
in the House from 4 P.M. until about 2 A.M., during a dull debate, and
was considerably amused when he rose at that late or early hour, and
"begged to suggest to honorable gentlemen," that, although he was
perfectly willing to sit there until daylight, yet he thought something
was due to the Speaker, (a hale, hearty man, sixteen years his junior,)
and as there was to be a session at noon of that day, he hoped the
debate would be adjourned. The same suggestion had been fruitlessly made
half a dozen times before; but the Premier's manner was irresistible,
and amid great laughter the motion prevailed. The Speaker, with a
grateful smile to the member for Tiverton, immediately and gladly
retired, but the indefatigable leader remained at his post an hour
longer, while the House was sitting in Committee on Supplies.

But his Parliamentary duties by no means fill up the measure of his
public labors. Deputations representing all sorts of interests wait
on him almost daily, his presence is indispensable at all Cabinet
consultations, and as Prime Minister he gives tone and direction to
the domestic and foreign policy of the English government. How much is
implied in these duties and responsibilities must be apparent to all who
speak the English language.

Now what is the secret of this vigorous old age, after a life spent in
such arduous avocations? Simply this, that a constitution robust by
nature has been preserved in its strength by regular habits and out-door
exercise. If I were to repeat the stories I have heard, and seen
stated in English newspapers, of the feats, pedestrian and equestrian,
performed by Lord Palmerston from early manhood down to the present
writing, I fear I should be suspected by some of my readers of offering
an insult to their understanding. I must therefore content myself with
saying that very few young men of our day and country could follow him
in the field or keep up with him on the road.

A word about Lord Palmerston's political antecedents. Beginning as
Junior Lord of the Admiralty in the Duke of Portland's Ministry,
in 1808, he has since been once Secretary of War, five times Prime
Minister, and once Secretary of State. From 1811 to 1831 he represented
Cambridge University. Since 1835 he has represented Tiverton. It may be
safely asserted that no man now living in England has been so long or
so prominently in public office, and probably no man presents a more
correct type of the Liberal, although not Radical, sentiment of England.

It may be well to state that on this evening there was an unusually
large attendance of members. Not only were all the benches on the floor
of the House filled, but the rare spectacle was presented of members
occupying seats in the east and west galleries. These unfortunates
belonged to that class who are seldom seen in their places, but who are
sometimes whipped in by zealous partisans, when important questions are
under consideration, and a close vote may be expected. Their listless
faces and sprawling attitudes proved clearly enough that they were
reluctant and bored spectators of the scene. It deserves to be
mentioned, also, that, although there are six hundred and fifty-six
actual members of the House, the final vote on the question showed,
that, even on that eventful night, only four hundred and sixty-two were
present. The average attendance is about three hundred.

At half-past four, the Premier rose to address the House. He had already
given due notice that he should introduce three resolutions, which,
considering the importance of the subject, I make no apology for giving
in full.

"1. That the right of granting aids and supplies to the Crown is in
the Commons alone as an essential part of their Constitution, and the
limitation of all such grants, as to the matter, manner, measure, and
time, is only in them.

"2. That, although the Lords have exercised the power of rejecting bills
of several descriptions relating to taxation by negativing the whole,
yet the exercise of that power by them has not been frequent, and is
justly regarded by this House with peculiar jealousy, as affecting the
right of the Commons to grant the supplies and to provide the ways and
means for the service of the year.

"3. That, to guard for the future against an undue exercise of that
power by the Lords, and to secure to the Commons their rightful control
over taxation and supply, this House has in its own hands the power so
to impose and remit taxes, and to frame Bills of Supply, that the right
of the Commons as to the matter, manner, measure, and time may be
maintained inviolate."

The burden of the speech by which the Premier supported these
resolutions was this. The assent of both Houses is necessary to a bill,
and each branch possesses the power of rejection. But in regard to
certain bills, to wit, Money Bills, the House claims, as its peculiar
and exclusive privilege, the right of originating, altering, or amending
them. As the Lords have, however, the right and power of assenting, they
have also the right and power of rejecting. He admitted that they had
frequently exercised this right of rejection. Yet it must be observed,
that, when they had done so, it had been in the case of bills involving
taxes of small amount, or connected with questions of commercial
protection. No case had ever occurred precisely like this, where a bill
providing for the repeal of a tax of large amount, and on the face of it
unmixed with any other question, had been rejected by the Lords.

"But, in point of fact," he continued, "was there not another question
involved? Was it not clear, that, the bill having passed by a majority
greatly reduced since its second reading, the Lords may have thought
that it would be well to give the Commons further time to reflect?
Indeed, was there not abundant reason to believe that the Lords were not
really initiating a new and dangerous policy, that of claiming to be
partners with the House in originating and disposing of Money Bills?
Therefore, would it not be sufficient for the House firmly to assert its
rights, and to intimate the jealous care with which it intended to guard
against their infringement?"

Of course, this brief and imperfect abstract of an hour's speech can
do no sort of justice to its merits. It is much easier to describe its
effect upon the House. From the moment when the Premier uttered his
opening sentence, "I rise upon an occasion which will undoubtedly rank
as one of the first in importance among those which have occurred in
regard to our Parliamentary proceedings," he commanded the closest
attention of the House. And yet he was neither eloquent, impressive, nor
even earnest. There was not the slightest attempt at declamation. His
voice rarely rose above a conversational tone, and his gestures were not
so numerous or so decided as are usual in animated dialogue. His air and
manner were rather those of a plain, well-informed man of business, not
unaccustomed to public speaking, who had some views on the subject under
discussion which he desired to present, and asked the ear of the House
for a short hour while he defined his position.

No one who did not appreciate the man and the occasion would have
dreamed that he was confronting a crisis which might lead to a change
in the Ministry, and might array the two Houses of Parliament in angry
hostility against each other. But here lay the consummate skill of the
Premier. He was playing a most difficult role, and he played it to
perfection. He could not rely on the support of the Radicals. He must
therefore make amends for their possible defection by drawing largely
on the Conservative strength. The great danger was, that, while
conciliating the Conservatives by a show of concession, he should
alienate his own party by seeming to concede too much. Now, that the
effect which he aimed to produce excluded all declamation, all attempt
at eloquence, anything like flights of oratory or striking figures of
rhetoric, nobody understood better than Lord Palmerston.

In view of all these circumstances, the adroitness, the ability, the
sagacity, and the success of his speech were most wonderful. Gladstone
was more philosophical, statesmanlike, and eloquent; Whiteside more
impassioned and vehement; Disraeli more witty, sarcastic, and telling;
but Lord Palmerston displayed more of those qualities without which no
one can be a successful leader of the House of Commons. The result was,
that two of the resolutions passed without a division, and the third was
carried by an immense majority. The Prime Minister had understood the
temper of the House, and had shaped his course accordingly. As we have
seen, he succeeded to a marvel. But was it such a triumph as a great and
far-reaching statesman would have desired? And this brings us to the
other side of the picture.

Dexterous, facile, adroit, politic, versatile,--as Lord Palmerston
certainly is,--fertile in resources, prompt to seize and use to the
utmost every advantage, endowed with unusual popular gifts, and blessed
with imperturbable good-humor, it cannot be denied that in many of the
best and noblest attributes of a statesman he is sadly deficient. His
fondness for political power and his anxiety to achieve immediate
success inevitably lead him to resort to temporary and often unworthy
expedients. A manly reliance on general principles, and a firm faith in
the ultimate triumph of right and justice, constitute no part of his
character. He lives only in the present. That he is making history seems
never to occur to him. He does not aspire to direct, but only aims to
follow, or at best to keep pace with public opinion. What course he will
pursue on a given question can never be safely predicted, until you
ascertain, as correctly as he can, what is the prevailing temper of the
House or the nation. That he will try to "make things pleasant," to
conciliate the Opposition without weakening the strength of his own
party, you may be sure; but for, any further clue to his policy you must
consult the press, study the spirit of Parliament, and hear the voice of
the people. I know no better illustration to prove the justice of this
view of the Premier's political failing than his bearing in the debate
which I am attempting to describe. Here was a grave constitutional
question. The issue was a simple and clear one. Had the Lords the
right to reject a Money Bill which had passed the House? If historical
precedents settled the question clearly, then there was no difficulty
in determining the matter at once, and almost without discussion. If,
however, there were no precedents bearing precisely on this case, then
it was all the more important that this should be made the occasion of a
settlement of the question so unequivocal and positive as effectually
to guard against future complication and embarrassment. Now how did the
Premier deal with this issue? He disregarded the homely wisdom contained
in the pithy bull of Sir Boyle Roche, that "the best way to avoid a
dilemma is to meet it plump." He dodged the dilemma. His resolutions,
worded with ingenious obscurity, skilfully evaded the important aspect
of the controversy, and two of them, the second and third, gave equal
consolation to the Liberals and the Conservatives. So that, in fact, it
is reserved for some future Parliament, in which it cannot be doubted
that the Radical element will be more numerous and more powerful, to
determine what should have been decided on this very evening. It was
cleverly done, certainly, and extorted from all parties and members of
every shade of political opinion that admiration which the successful
performance of a difficult and critical task must always elicit. But was
it statesmanlike, or in any high sense patriotic or manly?

The Premier was followed by R.P. Collier, representing Plymouth. He had
been on the committee to search for precedents, and he devoted an hour
to showing that there was not, in all Parliamentary history, a single
precedent justifying the action of the Lords. His argument was clear and
convincing, and the result of it was, that no bill simply imposing or
remitting a tax had ever in a single instance been rejected by the Upper
House. In all the thirty-six cases relied on by the Opposition there
was always some other principle involved, which furnished plausible
justification for the course adopted by the Lords.

To this speech I observed that Mr. Gladstone paid strict attention,
occasionally indicating his assent by an approving nod, or by an
encouraging "Hear! Hear!" It is rare, indeed, that any speaker in the
House secures the marked attention or catches the eye of the Chancellor
of the Exchequer.

To Collier succeeded Coningham, member for Brighton. Now as this
honorable member was prosy and commonplace, not to say stupid, I
should not detain my readers with any allusion to his speech, but as
illustrating a prominent and very creditable feature of the debates
in the House. That time is of some value, and that no remarks can be
tolerated, unless they are intelligent and pertinent, are cardinal
doctrines of debate, and are quite rigidly enforced. At the same time
mere dulness is often overlooked, as soon as it appears that the speaker
has something to say which deserves to be heard. But there is one
species of oratory which is never tolerated for a moment, and that
is the sort of declamation which is designed merely or mainly for
home-consumption,--speaking for Buncombe, as we call it. The instant,
therefore, that it was evident that Mr. Coningham was addressing,
not the House of Commons, but his constituents at Brighton, he was
interrupted by derisive cheers and contemptuous groans. Again and again
did the indignant orator attempt to make his voice heard above the
confusion, but in vain; and when, losing all presence of mind, he made
the fatal admission,--"I can tell Honorable Gentlemen that I have just
returned from visiting my constituents, and I can assure the House that
more intelligent"--the tumult became so great, that the remainder of the
sentence was entirely lost. Seeing his mistake, Mr. Coningham changed
his ground. "I appeal to the courtesy of Honorable Members; I do not
often trespass upon the House; I implore them to give me a patient
and candid hearing." This appeal to the love of "fair play," so
characteristic of Englishmen, produced immediately the desired effect,
and the member concluded without further interruption.

Mr. Edwin James was the next prominent speaker. He has won a wide
reputation as a barrister, chiefly in the management of desperate
criminal cases, culminating in his defence of Dr. Barnard, charged with
being accessory to the attempted assassination of Louis Napoleon. The
idol of the populace, he was elected by a large majority in May, 1859,
as an extreme Liberal or Radical, to represent Marylebone in the present
Parliament. His warmest admirers will hardly contend that since his
election he has done anything to distinguish himself, or even to sustain
the reputation which his success as an advocate had earned for him.
The expensive vices to which he has long been addicted have left him
bankrupt in character and fortune. His large professional income has
been for some years received by trustees, who have made him a liberal
allowance for his personal expenses, and have applied the remainder
toward the payment of his debts. His recent disgraceful flight from
England, and the prompt action of his legal brethren in view of his
conduct, render it highly improbable that he will ever return to the
scene of his former triumphs and excesses. Besides its brevity, which
was commendable, his speech this evening presented no point worthy of

Since the opening remarks of Lord Palmerston, five Radicals had
addressed the House. Without exception they had denounced the action of
the Lords, and more than one had savagely attacked the Opposition for
supporting the proceedings of the Upper House. They had contended that
the Commons were becoming contemptible in the eyes of the nation by
their failure to take a manly position in defence of their rights. To
a man, they had assailed the resolutions of the Premier as falling far
short of the dignity of the occasion and the importance of the crisis,
or, at best, as intentionally ambiguous. Thus far then the Radicals.
The Opposition had listened to them in unbroken and often contemptuous
silence, enjoying the difference of opinion in the Ministerial party,
but reserving themselves for some foeman worthy of their steel. Nor
was there, beyond a vague rumor, any clue to the real position of the
Cabinet on the whole question. Only one member had spoken for the
Government, and it was more than suspected that he did not quite
correctly represent the views of the Ministry.

If any one of my readers had been in the Speaker's Gallery on that
evening, his attention would have been arrested by a member on the
Ministerial benches, a little to the right of Lord Palmerston. His face
is the most striking in the House,--grave, thoughtful, almost stern,
but lighting up with wonderful beauty when he smiles. Usually, his air
is rather abstracted,--not, indeed, the manner of one whose thoughts
are wandering from the business under debate, but rather of one who is
thinking deeply upon what is passing around him. His attitude is not
graceful: lolling at full length, his head resting on the back of the
seat, and his legs stretched out before him. He is always neatly, but
never carefully dressed, and his bearing is unmistakably that of a
scholar. Once or twice since we have been watching him, he has scratched
a few hasty memoranda on the back of an envelope, and now, amid the
silence of general expectation, the full, clear tones of his voice are
heard. He has not spoken five minutes before members who have taken
advantage of the dulness of recent debaters to dine, or to fortify
themselves in a less formal way for the night's work before them, begin
to flock to their seats. Not an eye wanders from the speaker, and the
attention which he commands is of the kind paid in the House only to
merit and ability of the highest order. And, certainly, the orator is
not unworthy of this silent, but most respectful tribute to his talents.
His manner is earnest and animated, his enunciation is beautifully
clear and distinct, the tones of his voice are singularly pleasing and
persuasive, stealing their way into the hearts of men, and charming them
into assent to his propositions. One can easily understand why he is
called the "golden-tongued."

This is Mr. Gladstone, Chancellor of the Exchequer, by right of
eloquence, statesmanship, and scholarly attainments, the foremost man in
England. I cannot hope to give a satisfactory description of his speech,
nor of its effect upon the House. His eloquence is of that quality to
which no sketch, however accurate, can do justice. Read any one of
his speeches, as reported with astonishing correctness in the London
"Times," and you will appreciate the clear, philosophical statement of
political truth,--the dignified, elevated, statesmanlike tone,--the rare
felicity of expression,--the rhetorical beauty of style, never usurping
the place of argument, though often concealing the sharp angles of his
relentless logic,--the marvellous ease with which he makes the
dry details of finance not only instructive, but positively
fascinating,--his adroitness in retrieving a mistake, or his sagacity
in abandoning, in season, an indefensible position,--the lofty and
indignant scorn with which he sometimes condescends to annihilate an
insolent adversary, or the royal courtesy of his occasional compliments.
But who shall be able to describe those attributes of his eloquence
which address themselves only to the ear and eye: that clear, resonant
voice, never sinking into an inaudible whisper, and never rising into an
ear-piercing scream, its tones always exactly adapted to the spirit of
the words,--that spare form, wasted by the severe study of many years,
which but a moment before was stretched in languid ease on the Treasury
benches, now dilated with emotion,--that careworn countenance inspired
with great thoughts: what pen or pencil can do justice to these?

If any one of that waiting audience has been impatiently expectant of
some words equal to this crisis, some fearless and manly statement
of the real question at issue, his wish shall be soon and most fully
gratified. Listen to his opening sentence, which contains the key-note
to his whole speech:--"It appears to be the determination of one moiety
of this House that there shall be no debate upon the constitutional
principles which are involved in this question; and I must say, that,
considering that gentlemen opposite are upon this occasion the partisans
of a gigantic innovation,--the most gigantic and the most dangerous that
has been attempted in modern times,--I may compliment them upon the
prudence they show in resolving to be its silent partisans." After this
emphatic exordium, which electrified the House, and was followed by
such a tempest of applause as for some time to drown the voice of the
speaker, he proceeded at once to demonstrate the utter folly and error
of contending that the action of the Lords was supported or justified
by any precedent. Of course, as a member of the Cabinet, he gave his
adhesion to the resolutions before the House, and indorsed the speech
of the Premier. But, from first to last, he treated the question as its
importance demanded, as critical and emergent, not to be passed by in
silence, nor yet to be encountered with plausible and conciliatory
expedients. He reserved to himself "entire freedom to adopt any mode
which might have the slightest hope of success, for vindicating by
action the rights of the House."

In fact, he alone of all the speakers of the evening rose to "the height
of the great argument." He alone seemed to feel that the temporary
success of this or that party or faction was as nothing compared with
the duty of settling definitely and for all posterity this conflict of
rights between the two Houses. Surveying the question from this high
vantage-ground, what wonder that in dignity and grandeur he towered
above his fellows? Here was a great mind grappling with a great
subject,--a mind above temporary expedients for present success,
superior to the fear of possible defeat. To denounce the Conservatives
for not attacking the Ministerial resolutions may have been indiscreet.
He may have been guilty of an apparent breach of Parliamentary
etiquette, when he practically condemned the passive policy of the
Cabinet, of which he was himself a leading member. But may we not pardon
the natural irritation produced by the defeat of his favorite measure,
in view of the noble and patriotic sentiments of his closing sentences?

"I regard the whole rights of the House of Commons, as they have been
handed down to us, as constituting a sacred inheritance, upon which I,
for my part, will never voluntarily permit any intrusion or plunder to
be made. I think that the very first of our duties, anterior to the duty
of dealing with any legislative measure, and higher and more sacred than
any such duties, high and sacred though they may be, is to maintain
intact that precious deposit."

The effect of this speech was indescribable. The applause with which he
was frequently interrupted, and which greeted him as he took his seat,
was such as I have never heard in a deliberative assembly. And not the
least striking feature of this display of enthusiasm was that it mainly
proceeded from the extreme Liberal wing of the Ministerial party, with
which Mr. Gladstone, representing that most conservative of all English
constituencies, Oxford University, had hitherto been by no means
popular. For several days the rumor was rife that the Chancellor of the
Exchequer would resign his place in the Cabinet, and be the leader
of the Radicals! But Mr. Gladstone had other views of his duty, and
probably he was never more firmly intrenched in the confidence of the
nation, and more influential in the councils of the Government, than he
is at this moment.

Mr. Gladstone had hardly taken his seat, when the long and significant
silence of the Opposition was broken by Mr. Whiteside. This gentleman
represents Dublin University, has been Attorney-General and
Solicitor-General for Ireland, and was one of the most able and eloquent
defenders of O'Connell and his friends in 1842. He is said to be the
only Irishman in public life who holds the traditions of the great Irish
orators,--the Grattans, the Currans, and the Sheridans. I will not
detain my readers with even a brief sketch of his speech. It was very
severe upon Mr. Gladstone, very funny at the expense of the Radicals,
and very complimentary to Lord Palmerston. As a whole, it was an
admirable specimen of Irish oratory. In the _elan_ with which the
speaker leaped to his feet and dashed at once into his subject, full of
spirit and eager for the fray, in his fierce and vehement invective and
the occasional ferocity of his attacks, in the fluency and fitness of
his language and the rapidity of his utterance, in the unstudied grace
and sustained energy of his manner, it was easy to recognize the
elements of that irresistible eloquence by which so many of his gifted
countrymen have achieved such brilliant triumphs at the forum and in the
halls of the debate.

It might perhaps heighten the effect of the picture, if I were to
describe the appearance of Mr. Gladstone during the delivery of this
fierce Philippic,--the contracted brow, the compressed lip, the uneasy
motion from side to side, and all the other customary manifestations of
anger, mortification, and conscious defeat. But if my sketch be dull,
it shall at least have the homely merit of being truthful. In point of
fact, the whole harangue was lost upon Mr. Gladstone; for he left the
House immediately after making his own speech, and did not return until
some time after Mr. Whiteside had finished. In all probability he did
not know how unmercifully he had been handled until he read his "Times"
the next morning.

Six more speeches on the Liberal side, loud in praise of the Chancellor
of the Exchequer, bitter in denunciation of the Conservatives, and by
no means sparing the policy of the Prime Minister, followed in quick
succession. They were all brief, pertinent, and spirited; with which
comprehensive criticism I must dismiss them. Their delivery occupied
about two hours, and many members availed themselves of this opportunity
to leave the House for a while. Some sauntered on the broad stone
terrace which lines the Thames. Not a few regaled themselves with the
popular Parliamentary beverage,--sherry and soda-water; and others,
who had resolutely kept their seats since the opening of the debate,
rewarded their devotion to the interests of the public by a more
elaborate repast. Now and then a member in full evening dress would
lounge into the House, with that air of perfect self-satisfaction
which tells of a good dinner by no means conducted on total-abstinence

It was midnight when Mr. Disraeli rose to address the House. For years
the pencil of "Punch" has seemed to take particular delight in sketching
for the public amusement the features of this well-known novelist,
orator, and statesman. After making due allowance for the conceded
license of caricature, we must admit that the likeness is in the main
correct, and any one familiar with the pages of "Punch" would recognize
him at a glance. The impression which he leaves on one who studies his
features and watches his bearing is not agreeable. Tall, thin, and quite
erect, always dressed with scrupulous care, distant and reserved in
manner, his eye dull, his lips wearing habitually a half-scornful,
half-contemptuous expression, one can readily believe him to be a man
addicted to bitter enmities, but incapable of warm friendships.

He had been sitting, as his manner is, very quietly during the evening,
never moving a muscle of his face, save when he smiled coldly once
or twice at the sharp sallies of Whiteside, or spoke, as he did very
rarely, to some member near him. A stranger to his manner would have
supposed him utterly indifferent to what was going on about him. Yet it
is probable that no member of the House was more thoroughly absorbed in
the debate or watched its progress with deeper interest. Excepting his
political ambition, Mr. Disraeli is actuated by no stronger passion than
hatred of Mr. Gladstone. To have been a warm admirer and _protege_ of
Sir Robert Peel would have laid a sufficient foundation for intense
personal dislike. But Mr. Disraeli has other and greater grievances to
complain of. This is not the place to enter at large into the history of
the political rivalry between these eminent men. Enough to say, that
in the spring of 1852 Mr. Disraeli realized the dream of his lifelong
ambition by being appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the Ministry
of Lord Derby. Late in the same year he brought forward his Budget,
which he defended at great length and with all his ability. This Budget,
and the arguments by which it was supported, Mr. Gladstone--who had
already refused to take the place in the Derby Cabinet--attacked in a
speech of extraordinary power, demolishing one by one the positions
of his opponent, rebuking with dignified severity the license of
his language, and calling upon the House to condemn the man and his
measures. Such was the effect of this speech that the Government was
defeated by a decided majority. Thus dethroned, Mr. Disraeli had the
additional mortification of seeing his victorious opponent seated in his
vacant chair. For, in the Ministry of Lord Aberdeen, which immediately
succeeded, Mr. Gladstone accepted the appointment of Chancellor of
the Exchequer. The Budget brought forward by the new Minister took by
surprise even those who had already formed the highest estimate of his
capacity; and the speech in which he defended and enforced it received
the approval of Lord John Russell, in the well-known and well-merited
compliment, that "it contained the ablest expositions of the true
principles of finance ever delivered by an English statesman." Since
that memorable defeat, Disraeli has lost no opportunity of attacking the
member for Oxford University. To weaken his wonderful ascendency over
the House has seemed to be the wish nearest his heart, and the signal
failure which has thus far attended all his efforts only gives a keener
edge to his sarcasm and increases the bitterness of his spirit. That
persistent and inflexible determination which, from a fashionable
novelist, has raised him to the dignity of leader of the Conservative
party in the House of Commons, that unsparing and cold-blooded malignity
which poisoned the last days of Sir Robert Peel, and those powers of wit
and ridicule which make him so formidable an adversary, have all been
impressed into this service.

His speech this evening was only a further illustration of his
controlling desire to enjoy an ample and adequate revenge for past
defeats; and, undoubtedly, Mr. Disraeli displayed a great deal of a
certain kind of power. He was witty, pungent, caustic, full of telling
hits which repeatedly convulsed the House with laughter, and he showed
singular dexterity in discovering and assailing the weak points in his
adversary's argument. Still, it was a painful exhibition, bad in temper,
tone, and manner. It was too plainly the attempt of an unscrupulous
partisan to damage a personal enemy, rather than the effort of a
statesman to enlighten and convince the House and the nation. It was
unfair, uncandid, and logically weak. Its only possible effect was to
irritate the Liberals, without materially strengthening the position of
the Conservatives. When "Dizzy" had finished, the floor was claimed
by Lord John Russell and Mr. Bright. It was sufficiently evident that
members, without distinction of party, desired to hear the last-named
gentleman, for cries of "Bright," "Bright," came from all parts of the
House. The member for Birmingham is stout, bluff, and hearty, looking
very much like a prosperous, well-dressed English yeoman. He is
acknowledged to be the best declaimer in the House. Piquant, racy, and
entertaining, he is always listened to with interest and pleasure; but
somehow he labors under the prevalent suspicion of being insincere, and
beyond a small circle of devoted admirers has no influence whatever in

To the manifest discontent of the House, the Speaker decided that the
Honorable Secretary for Foreign Affairs was entitled to the floor. Lord
John Russell deserves a more extended historical and personal notice
than the legitimate limits of this article will allow. But, as his
recent elevation to the peerage has led the English press to give a
review of his political antecedents, and as these articles have been
copied quite generally into our own leading newspapers, it may be
fairly presumed that most of my readers are familiar with the prominent
incidents in his long and honorable public career. As a speaker he is
decidedly prosy, with a hesitating utterance, a monotonous voice, and an
uninteresting manner. Yet he is always heard with respectful attention
by the House, in consideration of his valuable public services, his
intrinsic good sense, and his unselfish patriotism. On the question at
issue, he took ground midway between Lord Palmerston and Mr. Gladstone.

It was now about two, A.M. Since the commencement of the debate eighteen
members had addressed the House. At this point a motion prevailed to
adjourn until noon of the same day.

On the reopening of the debate at that hour, Mr. Bright and a few other
members gave their views upon the resolutions of the Premier, and the
final vote was then taken with the result already indicated.


Should you go to Centre-Harbor,
As haply you some time may,
Sailing up the Winnipisauke,
From the hills of Alton Bay,--

Into the heart of the highlands,
Into the north-wind free,
Through the rising and vanishing islands,
Over the mountain sea,--

To the little hamlet lying
White in its mountain-fold,
Asleep by the lake, and dreaming
A dream that is never told,--

And in the Red Hill's shadow
Your pilgrim home you make,
Where the chambers open to sunrise,
The mountains and the lake,--

If the pleasant picture wearies,
As the fairest sometimes will,
And the weight of the hills lies on you,
And the water is all too still,--

If in vain the peaks of Gunstock
Redden with sunrise fire,
And the sky and the purple mountains
And the sunset islands tire,--

If you turn from the in-door thrumming
And clatter of bowls without,
And the folly that goes on its travels
Bearing the city about,--

And the cares you left behind you
Come hunting along your track,
As Blue-Cap in German fable
Rode on the traveller's pack,--

Let me tell you a tender story
Of one who is now no more,
A tale to haunt like a spirit
The Winnipisauke shore,--

Of one who was brave and gentle,
And strong for manly strife,
Riding with cheering and music
Into the tourney of life.

Faltering and falling midway
In the Tempter's subtle snare,
The chains of an evil habit
He bowed himself to bear.

Over his fresh, young manhood
The bestial veil was flung,--
The curse of the wine of Circe,
The spell her weavers sung.

Yearly did hill- and lake-side
Their summer idyls frame;
Alone in his darkened dwelling,
He hid his face for shame.


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