« PrécédentContinuer »
LEAMINGTON, June 13, 1857.
We left Liverpool at 11, and came by Crewe, Wolverhamp ton, Birmingham, and Coventry. Haymaking is going on, and we saw and heard a lark ascend, and give his delicious song. Leamington is the cleanest and most brilliant place I ever saw. Every thing has a miniature look. The trim houses, neat shopfronts, white flags, and perfectly pure streets, affect me with a sense of being in a play-place. I can hardly think it real. English neatness here becomes almost Dutch. I forgot to say that the everlasting succession of beauties, in hedgerow, field, and meadow, with unvaried culture and perfect green, produces at length the effect of gazing on a pretty face without expression. One longs for a bare spot, a morsel of rude, brushy land, or a small piece of bad road.
June 14.-We have been to All Saints, the old parish-church, large and full. We were ushered in through the singing-boys to a seat in the choir immediately behind one of the readingpews. The service was given cathedral-fashion. Mr. Bowen, the curate, preached an evangelical sermon from the Rich Man and Lazarus. Soldiers went home from church to martial music. The rooks were cawing in their nests among the tops of the trees as we came to our inn.
Such has been the popularity of the Springs here, that the place numbers 15,000 inhabitants. There are two Leamington seasons in the year; the chief one being in winter, as is true also of Brighton; the other is in the hunting-time. The Cheshire hounds have a famous meet in that county, but all this is a foxhunting district. Lord Lonsdale (as we guess it was) told us that railways have greatly facilitated hunting by carrying men and even horses to the meets. He said the lands on our way rented for about three pounds an acre, but some in better districts for five pounds.
I have formerly noted the practice of having a little hymnbook for the particular church. The one here was full of our most evangelical hymns, "Just as I am" and the like. In no New England town have I ever remarked a more exact and still observance of the Sabbath. Invalid persons are trundled to church in bath-chairs, as an everyday thing; most worthy of imitation among us. The throngs of people in the street are perfectly well-dressed, and all with brilliant red and white complexions. As with us the complexion runs often into pale and yellow, so here the faulty visages are red, crimson, scratchy, erysipelatic-there are many such. I am inclined to think that the purest English is spoken in these midland counties. I detect very little provincial in the guards or waiters. Nothing like
mendicity or even poverty has met my eye at Leamington Priors. A little to the north-west is Baxter's Kidderminster, and a short journey eastward is Doddridge's Northampton. Worcester and Edgehill are not far off, and if we took the old mail-route, we should go through the forest of Arden. In this town of so many thousands, there are doubtless many "brethren," but how shall I find them out? Every thing in the church-way is set and petrified. I went into a shop for tracts, but the woman looked like a nun, and the books all smacked of Oxford.
LONDON, June 15, 1857.
We left Leamington about 10 for London, viâ Rugby. At R. we saw the church, but could not see the school. The whole country along our way was full of hay-making and sheep-shearing. As we neared Olney, I sang "Begone unbelief" in memory of John Newton, and much of the scenery on the Ouse was pleasant as of the very sort which prompted so many passages of the Task. These impressions were not the less strong, because I own my prevalent mood has been somewhat sombre, ever since I left America.
It is now 10 P. M., but the boys are in full caper in the street below, and there is still a lingering blush in the horizon. People here knock and ring. All servants ring, except the postman, who gives two knocks. Coals are brought to the door in a cart, but in sacks, and each of these is emptied down a hole in the sidewalk; it is a cleaner and even quicker operation than ours. The free-and-easy prevails all over England in regard to vehicles, pony-chaises, phaetons, flies, &c. You see two rosy girls drive up to a railway-station, and, perhaps, take a relative into their low-wheeled drag. Numerous cases have been observed by us of a pony drawing four adults in a sort of buggy, and two looking backwards. But then all the roads are as smooth as this paper.
4 BERNARD ST., RUSSELL SQUARE, LONDON, June 18, 1857. S
Last evening I attended an anniversary soirée of the Regent Square and Somerstown Sunday Schools, held in Somerstown, a neighbourhood much like the Five Points. Lady and gentlemen teachers present for a tea-drinking. Then up stairs, where a meeting lasted two and a half hours. Dr. Hamilton in the chair, who received me with great warmth. Numerous speeches. Of course, I made an address. Hamilton's gifted vocabulary flowed in my behalf. The cheers and "hears were a little appalling to me; but good nature and a disposition to be pleased
marked every thing. I thought the talent displayed by these teachers very remarkable. The heartiness and almost convivial glee of the meeting were unlike what we have at such times.
In our immediate vicinity is the vast but unfinished cathedral of the Irvingites. London is their Jerusalem, being the seat of their twelve apostles and seven churches. They have two daily services, and I have been to their even-song. The church is a sublime one. About sixty persons were present, of whom part were clergy in rich and varied robes. The chief one, who was forward and apart, near the altar, was wrapped in a heavy dark cloak over his alb, with a stole; he took the lead, and was either angel or bishop. The service was chanted cathedral-wise, and most delightfully. Altogether it was a very solemn affair. Much incense was used.
June 21. Sunday.-Very warm. Dr. Hamilton's church. The text was Proverbs viii. 1. It was an admirable sermon. He began it by comparing the choice of Hercules with the choice of Solomon. A shower having come up, I went in the afternoon to the neighbouring church of the Apostles (Irvingite) in Gordon Square. A sermon of an hour was first preached by Mr. John Wells, on the "procession of the Holy Ghost." It was read, was well-delivered, and very theological and orthodox, until near the close he declared that the day of miracles and prophecy had returned. Then followed the regular even-song, which was altogether distinct. The big ones sat in common seats during the sermon with purplish cassocks and small capes--three having lace sleeves; but during the vespers, all were in the choir, which is of immense size. There were twenty, exclusive of the singingboys in white. The Angel or Bishop (Mr. Heath) had a purple cloak over his alb, and performed his part to admiration. Of the rest, some had yellow and some red stoles, (or scarfs,) and all had albs or white dresses. I heard one pray in the spirit, one prophesy, and three give the word of exhortation. The organ and Gregorian chant were in perfection; all being in good training, and the congregation (about a thousand) generally joining. The sound rolled majestically through the Gothic vaults of the great edifice, which is quite a marvel of modern architecture. The incense, the intoning, and the bowing to the altar, are perfectly popish, but the service and ceremony are very fine and impressive. I do not believe they have better music at St. Paul's.
LONDON, June 23, 1857.
The new buildings of Lincoln's Inn are noble. In the fine library I found numbers studying and compiling. A whole alcove and more is devoted to American works, [on Law.] Then
to the Middle and Inner Temples. How ancient and beautiful these gardens, walks, and green trees, opening on the river and full of associations from Shakspeare downward! Professor L., of King's College, who accompanied me, greatly admires American jurisprudence, and amidst all his compilations says that American reports are most useful to him. He may be called a disciple of Story's, whose entire works he showed me. In the four Inns there are lectures, Monday on Common Law, Tuesday on Civil Law, Wednesday on Constitutional Law, Thursday on Equity, Friday on Real Estate.
After all this, it was highly proper that I should go to Smithfield. I made my approach by Skinner Street and the Old Bailey, by Snow Hill and Giltspur Street, near St. Sepulchre's and the Compter. This is one of the mustiest and most delicious parts of old London; for here enters Hosier Lane, (Swift speaks of the "veriest cockney of Hosier Lane,") and Cock Lane, famous for Dr. Johnson's and Wesley's visit to the ghost. And here is Pye Corner, where the fire of 1666 stopped. The great area of Smithfield, vast indeed, remains, and the innumerable stalls are left, but the glory is departed. Not only are there no martyrs, like John Rogers, but there are no beasts. I saw a timid flock of sheep looking out of Cock Lane, like intruders, but the principal reminiscence of former days is hay and straw, and the advertisements of butcher-tools, cattle-medicine, &c; besides advertisements of two lost children. I took the pains to count the parish vagrants, posted as having deserted their families, and found the number thirty-one. All this end of town is old, black, and profoundly suggestive. The smell is peculiar, and was doubtless known to Shakspeare and Bunyan.
The strawberries are very plenty and very large, and the English way is to serve them in the hulls, and eat them out of hand, dipping in powdered sugar.
I heard Dean Trench read prayers at Westminster Abbey, and saw him preach in a surplice and scarlet hood. He is a robust, hale, good-looking Englishman, with much of that "holytone" which belongs to all readers here.
The funerals are solemn mockery. The hearse is surmounted with immense plumes or bunches, as big as a man, and I have seen a dozen persons in black, perched on the top, driving full tilt to act as mutes. I can't get over the horse-flesh of Hyde Park. I never saw such blood, condition, and grooming. In the streets one sees the biggest and the least horses in the world.
LONDON, June 29, 1857. I have heard the wonderful Spurgeon. I am told the effort
was feeble, for him. He has none of those captivating intonations which we remember in Summerfield and others; neither should I judge him to have any pathos. His voice is incomparable, and perfect for immense power, sweetness, and naturalness. His pronunciation is admirable, with the never-failing English eyther, knowledge, wroth, &c. Though very like his likenesses, he becomes almost handsome when animated. His gesture is sparing and gentlemanlike. I detect no affectation. The tremendous virtue of his elocution is in outcry, sarcasm, and menace, and his voice improves as it grows louder. I seriously think his voice the great attraction. His prayers were concise and solemn; a shade too metaphoric. His short exposition was so-so in matter, but well-delivered. He preceded his sermon by a shot at Lord Lyndhurst's late remarks on the obscene Print Bill, and said: Holywell Street had at length found an advocate in Westminster Palace." He requested the people in the gallery (there are three one over another,) not to lean forward. He said you could tell a Dissenter in church, by his sitting down before the hymn was over. During the sermon he described broken-down preachers, spitting blood, going to the continent and travelling at other people's expense. This did not please me, for
"Who e'er felt the halter draw,
He told a very funny story of a minister with a rich wife. He was very severe on the establishment, and rather intimated that the gospel was very little preached. In this part of the discourse, he preached himself. Notwithstanding all this and his dreadful onslaught on written sermons, I think his work here matter of the greatest thankfulness. He preaches a pure gospel, in the most uncompromising manner, with directness, power, and faithfulness; and he preaches it to hundreds of thousands, to beggars and princes. I am at a loss to say what they come for. They seem to be led of God. All strangers go. Some of the nobility are always there. Church ministers abound in every assembly. I ought to have said there is nothing that savours of the rude or illiterate. Such a building I would beg a year to have in New York, for some stentor. It is the beau-ideal, being the theatre of Surrey Gardens, where Jullien has his concerts. It will hold ten thousand seated. Every aisle and corner was filled by a dense mass of standing persons numbering perhaps a thousand. The attention was unbroken. What struck me, was the total absence of the ill-dressed classes. A person behind me pointed out actors, Waterloo officers, noblemen, &c. Old Hundred by about ten thousand voices was really congregational singing. His sermon was fifty minutes, Ezek.