There is always something awful to my mind about a dense
crowd in a state of high excitement, let the nature of that excitement
be what it will.
I do not believe that there is in all America more vehemence of
democracy, more volcanic force of power, than comes out in one of
these great gatherings in our old fatherland. I saw plainly enough
where Concord, Lexington, and Bunker Hill came from; and it seems to
me there is enough of this element of indignation at wrong, and
resistance to tyranny, to found half a dozen more republics as strong
as we are.
A little incident that occurred gave me an idea of what such a crowd
might become in a confused state of excitement. A woman fainted in a
distant part of the house, and a policeman attempted to force a way
through the densely-packed crowd. The services were interrupted for a
few moments, and there were hoarse surgings and swellings of the
mighty mass, who were so closely packed that they moved together like
waves. Some began to rise in their seats, and some cried "Order!
order!" And one could easily see, that were a sudden panic or
overwhelming excitement to break up the order of the meeting, what a
terrible scene might ensue.
"What is it?" said I to a friend who sat next to me.
"A pickpocket, perhaps," said she. "I am afraid we are going to have a
row. They are going to give you one of our genuine Exeter Hall
I felt a good deal fluttered; but the Duchess of Sutherland, who knew
the British lion better than I did, seemed so perfectly collected that
I became reassured.
The character of the speeches at this meeting, with the exception of
Lord Shaftesbury's, was more denunciatory, and had more to pain the
national feelings of an American, than any I had ever attended. It was
the real old Saxon battle axe of Brother John, swung without fear or
favor. Such things do not hurt me individually, because I have such a
radical faith in my country, such a genuine belief that she will at
last right herself from every wrong, that I feel she can afford to
have these things said.
Mr. S. spoke on this point, that the cotton trade of Great Britain is
the principal support to slavery, and read extracts from Charleston
papers in which they boldly declare that they do not care for any
amount of moral indignation wasted upon them by nations who, after
all, must and will buy the cotton which they raise.
The meeting was a very long one, and I was much fatigued when we
To-morrow we are to make a little run out to Windsor.
Dear M.: -
I can compare the embarrassment of our London life, with its
multiplied solicitations and infinite stimulants to curiosity and
desire, only to that annual perplexity which used to beset us in our
childhood on thanksgiving day. Having been kept all the year within
the limits which prudence assigns to well-regulated children, came at
last the governor's proclamation, and a general saturnalia of dainties
for the little ones. For one day the gates of license were thrown
open, and we, plumped down into the midst of pie and pudding exceeding
all conception but that of a Yankee housekeeper, were left to struggle
our way out as best we might.
So here, beside all the living world of London, its scope and range of
persons and circles of thought, come its architecture, its arts, its
localities, historic, poetic, all that expresses its past, its
present, and its future. Every day and every hour brings its'
conflicting allurements, of persons to be seen, places to be visited,
things to be done, beyond all computation. Like Miss Edgeworth's
philosophic little Frank, we are obliged to make out our list of what
man _must_ want, and of what he _may_ want; and in our list
of the former we set down, in large and decisive characters, one quiet
day for the exploration and enjoyment of Windsor.
We were solicited, indeed, to go in another direction; a party was
formed to go down the Thames with the Right Hon. Sidney Herbert,
secretary at war, and visit an emigrant ship just starting for
Australia. I should say here, that since Mrs. Chisholm's labors have
awakened the attention of the English public to the wants and
condition of emigrants, the benevolent people of England take great
interest in the departing of emigrant ships. A society has been formed
called the Family Colonization Loan Society, and a fund raised by
which money can be loaned to those desiring to emigrate. This society
makes it an object to cultivate acquaintance and intimacy among those
about going out by uniting them into groups, and, as far as possible,
placing orphan children and single females under the protection of
families. Any one, by subscribing six guineas towards the loan, can
secure one passage. Each individual becomes responsible for refunding
his own fare, and, furthermore, to pay a certain assessment in case
any individual of the group fails to make up the passage money. The
sailing of emigrant ships, therefore, has become a scene of great
interest. Those departing do not leave their native shore without
substantial proofs of the interest and care of the land they are
In the party who were going down to-day were Mr. and Mrs. Binney, Mr.
Sherman, and a number of distinguished names; among whom I recollect
to have heard the names of Lady Hatherton, and Lady Byron, widow of
the poet. This would have been an exceedingly interesting scene to us,
but being already worn with company and excitement, we preferred a
quiet day at Windsor.