Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

to me. For a wonder, it was a pleasant day, and this is a thing always to be thankfully acknowledged in England. The calm stillness of the afternoon, the seclusion of the whole place, the silence only broken by the cawing of the rooks, the ancient church, the mossy graves with their flowers and green grass, the sunshine and the tree shadows, all seemed to mingle together in a kind of hazy dream of peacefulness and rest. How natural it is to say of some place sheltered, simple, cool, and retired, here one might find peace, as if peace came from without, and not from within. In the shadiest and stillest places may be the most turbulent hearts; and there are hearts which, through the busiest scenes, carry with them unchanging peace. As we were walking back, we passed many cottages of the poor.

I noticed, with particular pleasure, the invariable flower garden attached to each. Some pansies in one of them attracted my attention by their peculiar beauty, so very large and richly colored. On being introduced to the owner of them, she, with cheerful alacrity, offered me some of the finest. I do not doubt of there being suffering and misery in the agricultural population of England, but still there are multitudes of cottages which are really very pleasant objects, as were all these. The cottagers had thai bright, rosy look of health which we seldom see in America, and appeared to be both polite and self-respecting.

In the evening we had quite a gathering of friends from the neighborhood - intelligent, sensible, earnest people, who had grown up in the love of the antislavery cause as into religion. The subject of conversation was, “The duty of English people to free themselves from any participation in American slavery, by taking means to encourage the production of free cotton in the British provinces.”

It is no more impossible or improbable that something effective may be done in this way than that the slave trade should have been abolished. Every great movement seems an impossibility at first. There is no end to the number of things declared and proved impossible which have been done already, so that this may become something yet.

Mrs. Clarkson had retired from the room early ; after a while she sent for me to her sitting room. The faithful attendant of whom I spoke was with her. She wished to show me some relics of her husband, his watch and seals, some of his

papers and manuscripts; among these was the identical prize essay with which he began his career, and a commentary on the Gospels, which he had written with great care, for the use of his grandson. His seal attracted

my

attention it was that kneeling figure of the negro, with clasped hands, which was at first adopted as the badge of the cause, when every means was being made use of to arouse the public mind and keep the subject before the public. Mr. Wedgwood, the celebrated porcelain manufacturer, designed a cameo, with this representation, which was much worn as an ornament by ladies. It was engraved on the seal of the Antislavery Society, and was used by its members in sealing all their letters. This of Clarkson's was handsomely engraved on a large, oldfashioned carnelian; and surely, if we look with emotion on the sword of a departed hero, - which, at best, we can consider only as a necessary evil, - we may look with unmingled pleasure on this memorial of a bloodless victory.

When I retired to my room for the night I could not but

[ocr errors]

feel that the place was hallowed: unceasing prayer had there been offered for the enslaved and wronged race of Africa by that noble and brotherly heart. I could not but feel that those prayers had had a wider reach than the mere extinction of slavery in one land or country, and that their benign influence would not cease while a slave was left upon the face of the earth.

LETTER XXV.

DEAR C.:

We returned to London, and found Mr. S. and Joseph Sturge waiting for us at the depot. We dined with Mr. Sturge. It seems that Mr. S.'s speech upon the subject of cotton has created some considerable disturbance, different papers declaring themselves for or against it with a good deal of vivacity.

After dinner Mr. Sturge desired me very much to go into the meeting of the women ; for it seems that, at the time of the yearly meeting among the Friends, the men and women both have their separate meetings for attending to business. The aspect of the meeting was very interesting - so many placid, amiable faces, shaded by plain Quaker bonnets ; so many neat white handkerchiefs, folded across peaceful bosoms. Either a large number of very pretty women wear the Quaker dress, or it is quite becoming in its effect.

There are some things in the mode of speaking among the Friends, particularly in their public meetings, which do not strike me agreeably, and to which I think it would take me some time to become accustomed ; such as a kind of intoning somewhat similar to the manner in which the church service is performed in cathedrals. It is a curious fact that religious exercises, in all ages and countries, have inclined to this form of expression. It appears in the cantilation of the synagogue, the service of the cathedral, the prayers of the Covenanter and the Puritan.

a

There were a table and writing materials in this meeting, and a circle of from fifty to a hundred ladies. One of those upon the platform requested me to express to them my opinion on free labor. In a few words I told them I considered myself

upon that subject more a learner than a teacher, but that I was deeply interested in what I had learned upon this subject since my travelling in England, and particularly interested in the consistency and self-denial practised by their sect.

I have been quite amused with something which has happened lately. It always has seemed to me that distinguished people here in England live a remarkably out-door sort of life ; and newspapers

tell a vast deal about people's concerns which it is not our custom to put into print in America. Such, for instance, as where the Hon. Mr. A. is staying now, and where he expects to go next; what her grace wore at the last ball, and when the royal children rode out, and what they had on; and whom Lord Such-a-one had to dinner ; besides a large number of particulars which probably never happen.

Could I have expected dear old England to make me so much one of the family as to treat my humble fortunes in this same public manner? But it is even so. This week the Times has informed the United Kingdom that Mrs. Stowe is getting a new dress made! - the charming old aristocratic Times, which every body declares is such a wicked paper, and yet which they can no more do without than they can their breakfast! What am I, and what is my father's house, that such distinction should come upon me? I assure you, my dear, I feel myself altogether too much flattered. There, side by side with speculations on the eastern question, and conjectures with regard to the secret and revealed will of the

« AnteriorContinuar »