During the course of the services, when any little one was overcome
with sleep or fatigue, he was carefully handed down, and conveyed in a
man's arms to a refreshment room.
There was a sermon by the Bishop of Chester, very evangelical and
practical. On the whole, a more peculiar or more lovely scene I never
saw. The elegant arches of St. Paul's could have no more beautiful
adornment than those immortal flowers.
After service we lunched with a large party, with Mrs. Milman, at the
deanery near by. Mrs. Jameson was there, and Mrs. Gaskell, authoress
of Mary Barton and Ruth. She has a very lovely, gentle face, and looks
capable of all the pathos that her writings show. I promised her a
visit when I go to Manchester. Thackeray was there with his fine
figure, and frank, cheerful bearing. He spoke in a noble and brotherly
way of America, and seemed to have highly enjoyed his visit in our
After this we made a farewell call at the lord mayor's. We found the
lady mayoress returned from the queen's drawing room. From her
accounts I should judge the ceremonial rather fatiguing. Mrs. M. asked
me yesterday if I had any curiosity to see one. I confessed I had not.
Merely to see public people in public places, in the way of parade and
ceremony, was never interesting to me. I have seen very little of
ceremony or show in England. Well, now, I have brought you down to
this time. I have omitted, however, that I went with Lady Hatherton to
call on Mr. and Mrs. Dickens, and was sorry to find him too unwell to
be able to see us. Mrs. Dickens, who was busy in attending him, also
excused herself, and we saw his sister.
To-morrow we go - go to quiet, to obscurity, to peace; to Paris - to
Switzerland: there we shall find the loneliest glen, and, as the Bible
says, "fall on sleep." For our adventures on the way, meanwhile, I
refer you to C.'s journal.
LONDON TO PARIS
June 4, 1853. Bade adieu with regret to dear Surrey parsonage, and
drove to the great south-western station house.
"Paris?" said an official at our cab door. "Paris, by Folkestone and
Boulogne," was our answer. And in a few moments, without any
inconvenience, we were off. Reached Folkestone at nine, and enjoyed a
smooth passage across the dreaded channel. The steward's bowls were
paraded in vain. At Boulogne came the long-feared and abhorred ordeal
of passports and police. It was nothing. We slipped through quite
easily. A narrow ladder, the quay, gens-d'armes, a hall, a crowd,
three whiskers, a glance at the passport, the unbuckling of a bundle,
_voila tout_. The moment we issued forth, however, upon the quay
again, there was a discharge of forty voices shouting in French. For a
moment, completely stunned, I forgot where we were, which way going,
and what we wanted. Up jumped a lively little _gamin_.
"_Monsieur veut aller a Pan's, n'est ce pas?_" "Going to Paris,
are you not, sir?"
"Is monsieur's baggage registered?"
"Does monsieur's wish to go to the station house?"
"Can one find any thing there to eat?"
"Yes, just as at a hotel."
We yielded at discretion, and _garcon_ took possession of us.
"English?" said _garcon_, as we enjoyed the pleasant walk on the
"No. American," we replied.
"Ah!" (his face brightening up, and speaking confidentially,) "you
have a republic there."
We gave the lad a franc, dined, and were off for Paris. The ride was
delightful. Cars seating eight; clean, soft-cushioned, _nice_.
The face of the country, though not striking, was pleasing. There were
many poplars, with their silvery shafts, and a mingling of trees of
various kinds. The foliage has an airy grace - a certain
_spirituelle_ expression - as if the trees knew they were growing
in _la belle France_, and must be refined. Then the air is so
different from the fog and smoke of London. There is more oxygen in
the atmosphere. A pall is lifted. We are led out into sunshine. Fields
are red with a scarlet white-edged poppy, or blue with a flower like
larkspur. Wheat fields half covered with this unthrifty beauty! But
alas! the elasticity is in Nature's works only. The works of man
breathe over us a dismal, sepulchral, stand-still feeling. The
villages have the nightmare, and men wear wooden shoes. The day's
ride, however, was memorable with novelty; and when we saw Mont
Martre, and its moth-like windmills, telling us we were coming to
Paris, it was almost with regret at the swiftness of the hours. We
left the cars, and flowed with the tide into the Salle d'Attente, to
wait till the baggage was sorted. Then came the famous ceremony of
unlocking. The officer took my carpet bag first, and poked his hand
down deep in one end.
"What is this?"
"That is my collar box."
"_Ah, ca_" And he put it back hastily, and felt of my travelling
gown. "What is this?"
"Only a wrapping gown."
"_Ah, ca_" After fumbling a little more, he took sister H.'s bag,
gave a dive here, a poke there, and a kind of promiscuous rake with
his five fingers, and turned to the trunk. There he seemed somewhat
dubious. Eying the fine silk and lace dresses, - first one, then the
other, - "Ah, ah!" said he, and snuffed a little. Then he peeped under
this corner, and cocked his eye under that corner; then, all at once,
plunged his arm down at one end of the trunk, and brought up a little
square box. "What's that?" said he. He unrolled and was about to open
it, when suddenly he seemed to be seized with an emotion of
confidence. "_Non, non_" said he, frankly, and rolled it up,
shoved it back, stuffed the things down, smoothed all over, signed my
ticket, and passed on.