My soul accepts their mute reply:
My second visit to Cambridge will be spoken of in due season.
In coming out of the cathedral, on the Sunday I just mentioned, a gentleman addressed me as a fellow-countryman. There is something,--I will not stop now to try and define it,--but there is something by which we recognize an American among the English before he speaks and betrays his origin. Our new friend proved to be the president of one of our American colleges; an intelligent and well-instructed gentleman, of course. By the invitation of our host he came in to visit us in the evening, and made himself very welcome by his agreeable conversation.
I have named many of the friends who did everything to make our stay in England and Scotland agreeable. The unforeseen shortening of my visit must account for many disappointments to myself, and some, it may be, to others.
I made but two brief visits to the British Museum, and I can easily instruct my reader so that he will have no difficulty, if he will follow my teaching, in learning how not to see it. When he has a spare hour at his disposal, let him drop in at the Museum, and wander among its books and its various collections. He will know as much about it as the fly that buzzes in at one window and out at another. If I were asked whether I brought away anything from my two visits, I should say, Certainly I did. The fly sees some things, not very intelligently, but he cannot help seeing them. The great round reading-room, with its silent students, impressed me very much. I looked at once for the Elgin Marbles, but casts and photographs and engravings had made me familiar with their chief features. I thought I knew something of the sculptures brought from Nineveh, but I was astonished, almost awe-struck, at the sight of those mighty images which mingled with the visions of the Hebrew prophets. I did not marvel more at the skill and labor expended upon them by the Assyrian artists than I did at the enterprise and audacity which had brought them safely from the mounds under which they were buried to the light of day and the heart of a great modern city. I never thought that I should live to see the Birs Nimroud laid open, and the tablets in which the history of Nebuchadnezzar was recorded spread before me. The Empire of the Spade in the world of history was founded at Nineveh by Layard, a great province added to it by Schliemann, and its boundary extended by numerous explorers, some of whom are diligently at work at the present day. I feel very grateful that many of its revelations have been made since I have been a tenant of the travelling residence which holds so many secrets in its recesses.
On the 21st of August we went on board the Aurania. Everything was done to make us comfortable. Many old acquaintances, friends, and family connections were our fellow-passengers. As for myself, I passed through the same trying experiences as those which I have recorded as characterizing my outward passage. Our greatest trouble during the passage was from fog. The frequency of collisions, of late years, tends to make everybody nervous when they hear the fog-whistle shrieking. This sound and the sight of the boats are not good for timid people. Fortunately, no one was particularly excitable, or if so, no one betrayed any special uneasiness.
What memories that week in Salisbury and the excursions from it have left in my mind's picture gallery! The spire of the great cathedral had been with me as a frequent presence during the last fifty years of my life, and this second visit has deepened every line of the impression, as Old Mortality refreshed the inscriptions on the tombstones of the Covenanters. I find that all these pictures which I have brought home with me to look at, with
On the same day that we made this quiet visit we attended a great and ceremonious assembly. There were two parts in the programme, in the first of which I was on the stage solus,--that is, without my companion; in the second we were together. This day, Saturday, the 29th of May, was observed as the Queen's birthday, although she was born on the 24th. Sir William Harcourt gave a great dinner to the officials of his department, and later in the evening Lady Rosebery held a reception at the Foreign Office. On both these occasions everybody is expected to be in court dress, but my host told me I might present myself in ordinary evening dress. I thought that I might feel awkwardly among so many guests, all in the wedding garments, knee-breeches and the rest, without which I ventured among them. I never passed an easier evening in any company than among these official personages. Sir William took me under the shield of his ample presence, and answered all my questions about the various notable personages at his table in a way to have made my fortune if I had been a reporter. From the dinner I went to Mrs. Gladstone's, at 10 Downing Street, where A---- called for me. She had found a very small and distinguished company there, Prince Albert Victor among the rest. At half past eleven we walked over to the Foreign Office to Lady Rosebery's reception.
I once made a similar mistake in addressing a young fellow-citizen of some social pretensions. I apologized for my error.
But will they come when you do call for them?"
We left Boston on the 29th of April, 1886, and reached New York on the 29th of August, four months of absence in all, of which nearly three weeks were taken up by the two passages; one week was spent in Paris, and the rest of the time in England and Scotland.