The Homes of the New World/Letter VII.
Havard College, Cambridge, Dec. 15th.
I can now, my beloved child, have a little talk with you in peace. By this time mamma and you must know of my arrival in this country—of my first experience in it, and how well all goes on with me: but I again have such a craving for letters from home, and am so grieved to have had but one since I came hither, and to have no knowledge of how you have recovered from your illness, and how mamma is, and all the rest at home.—I must however, soon hear, and God grant that all may be well.
I wrote lately to you from Boston: I remained there several days with my friends, the S——s, amid an incessant shower both of visits and engagements, which sometimes amused me, and sometimes drove me half to desperation, and left me scarcely time to breathe. A few of these days and hours I shall always remember with pleasure. Among the foremost of these, is a morning when I saw around me the most noble men of Massachussets; Alcott, the Platonic idealist, with a remarkably beautiful silver-haired head; the brothers Clarke; the philanthropist, Mr. Barnard; the poet, Longfellow; the young, true American poet, Lowell (a perfect Apollo in appearance), and many others. Emerson came also with a sunbeam in his strong countenance,—and people more beautiful—more perfect in form (almost all tall and well-proportioned) it would not be easy to find.
Another forenoon I saw the distinguished lawyer, Wendel Phillips, and Charles Sumner, a young giant in person; Garrison, one of the principal champions of the Abolitionist cause, and who, therefore, at a time of excitement, was dragged by the mob through the streets—of Boston, I believe—with a halter round his neck as a malefactor. One sees in his beautiful countenance and clear, eagle-eye, that resolute spirit which makes the martyr. Speaking with him, I told him candidly that I thought the extravagance in the proceedings of the Abolitionists, their want of moderation, and the violent tone of their attacks could not benefit, but rather must damage their cause. He replied, with good temper, “We must demand the whole loaf if we would hope to get one half of it!”
He expressed himself mildly regarding the Southern slave-holders, said that he valued many of them personally, but that he hated slavery, and would continue to combat with it as with the greatest enemy of America. And a man who had endured the maltreatment of a mob—who had borne the halter, and disgrace, and has still stood firmly as before, combating fearlessly as before; the resolution and character of such a man deserve esteem. This gentleman brought to us two lately-escaped slaves, William and Ellen Kraft. She was almost white; her countenance which was rather sallow, had the features of the white, and though not handsome, a very intelligent expression. They had escaped by means of her being dressed as a man; he acting as her servant. In order to avoid the necessity of signing her name in the travellers books, for she could not write, she carried her right arm in a sling, under the plea of having injured it. Thus they had succeeded in travelling by railway from the south to the free States of the north. They appeared to be sincerely happy.
“Why did you escape from your masters?” I asked,—“did they treat you with severity?”
“No,” replied she; “they always treated me well; but I fled from them because they would not give me my rights as a human being. I could never learn anything, neither to read nor to write.”
I remarked in her the desire for learning peculiar to the white race.
“How is it,” said some one in company to the negro, “that the assertions of the anti-slavery party regarding the treatment of the slaves, that they are often flogged and severely beaten, are declared to be false? Travellers come to the north who have long resided among the plantations of the south, and have never seen anything of the kind.”
William smiled, and said with a keen expression; “Nor are children whipped in the presence of strangers; this is done when they do not see.”
Neither of these escaped slaves complained of their masters. And though like every other thinking Christian, I must condemn slavery as a system and institution, I wait to pass judgment on American slave-holders and slavery in America—until—I have seen it nearer. I am, from experience, suspicious of party-spirit and its blindness, and whenever I see this in activity I cannot accede to it, but on the contrary feel myself inclined to opposition. I will, at all events, see and hear for and against the question before I join either party. Justice and moderation before everything!
I was two evenings at the theatre, and saw Miss Charlotte Cushman—the principal actress in the United States—in two characters, in which she produced a great effect, both here and in England, namely, Meg Merrilies and Lady Macbeth. Miss Cushman, immediately on my arrival in New York, had written very kindly to me, offering to be any use to me in her power. Here, in Boston, she placed a box at the theatre at my service, which was very agreeable to me, as I could thus invite my friends to accompany me. Miss Cushman is a powerful actress; she possesses great energy, but is deficient in feminine grace, and wants more colour in her acting, especially of the softer tone. This has reference principally to her Meg Merrilies, which is a fearful creation. Miss Cushman has represented in her merely the witch, merely the horrible in nature. But even the most horrible nature has moments and traits of beauty; it has sun, repose, dew, and the song of birds. Her Meg Merrilies is a wild rock in the sea, around which tempests are incessantly roaring, and which unceasingly contend with clouds and waves. She was also too hard and masculine for Lady Macbeth. It was merely in the night scene that her acting struck me as beautiful, and that deploring cry so full of anguish which she utters when she cannot wash the blood from her hands, that—I feel I shall never forget. It thrilled through my whole being, and—I can still hear it; I can hear it in gloomy moments and scenes.
I like Miss Cushman personally very much. One sees evidently in her an honest, earnest, and powerful soul, which regards life and her vocation with a noble earnestness. She has, through great difficulties, made her own way to the position which, by universal recognition and with universal esteem, she now occupies. She belongs to an old Puritanic family, and after her father's misfortunes, she supported by her talent for some years her mother and her younger sister. She looks almost better in private than on the stage; the frank blue eye, the strong, clever forehead, and the honest, sensible expression of her whole demeanour and conversation make one like to be with her.
I experienced much kindness and warm goodwill in Boston, of which I cannot now speak. Ah! there is no want of warm-heartedness here, my little Agatha, and the youthful spirit of the people makes it very perceptible. But the misfortune is, that I am but one against many; and that I have not the strength nor the disposition to struggle with and against that kindness which I feel to be so beautiful and so genial to my heart. The only quiet hours which I had in Boston were when I was driving along the streets in a carriage to visit institutions or to pay visits: these days were also agreeable from many things in themselves, and from intercourse with my friends, the estimable S——s; they too enjoyed them and were gay. Agreeable things occurred, and agreeable people came daily and hourly, with fresh plans for fresh pleasures, and from day to day was deferred their return to New York and my separation from them. My little female physician, Miss H., had a chase after me every day, to catch me and take me home with her. The Lowells came to fetch me to Cambridge, but we, my friends and myself, were grown reckless, setting at nought all principles of ordinary promise-keeping and propriety, and had, just out of merriment and a little innocent foolhardiness, determined to persevere in our unprincipled conduct, and still remain together a few days longer in Boston under our pleasant devil-may-care system, when two telegraphic despatches came one after the other, first to Marcus, then to Rebecca, containing the words, “your baby is very sick.”
With this was an end to all “frolic.” Rebecca, bathed in tears of anguish, Marcus with trouble in his good countenance, immediately got everything ready for their departure, so that they might set off by railway a few hours afterwards, and early the following morning reach their home, where Rebecca expected to find her little boy dead.
At the same time that they left I was to take up my quarters at the house of the Swedish consul, Benzon. I could not part with them without shedding tears; I had been so happy with them. They are such excellent people, and I was now so sorry for them, although it was impossible for any one to bear a sorrow more beautifully than they did this. And besides, they had been so inexpressibly kind to me! I cannot describe it in a letter; and neither can I think of it without emotion. To the last I had to strive with them, but in vain, that I might be allowed to pay my expenses in Boston. They maintained that I was their guest, and thus I paid not the slightest sum for my expensive and splendid living at the Revere House for three several days. And their manner of doing me this kindness, as “an honour and a pleasure to themselves;”—nay, my Agatha, I have never seen its equal before!
I took it almost as a certainty that my friends would find their little boy—“the baby”—dead; so violent had been the convulsions, into which he had been thrown, for he was teething: and Rebecca expected to hear at the door of her home the words, “He is not here! he has arisen!”
The day after their arrival, however, came to me a telegraphic message, with the words, “Dear Friend! Rejoice with us. Baby better. Danger nearly over.
What heartfelt pleasure this afforded me!
In the evening I went with Benzon and Bergfalk, together with a young Mr. K., an agreeable and witty man, a friend of the S——s, to a concert given by the “Musical Fund Society,” and was admitted by a free ticket, which would admit myself and my friends during the whole of the winter. And there I heard Beethoven's Fourth Symphony excellently performed by a numerous orchestra. The second adagio in this seized upon me with extraordinary power. Ah! who taught this man thus to understand the inmost life of the heart, its strivings upwards, its depressions and re-ascendings, its final conflict, resolute endeavour, and ultimate victory? No instrumental music makes upon me a more profound impression than this glorious adagio. Its tones were to me like the history of my own soul.
On Sunday I again heard Theodore Parker preach. He made a full and free confession of his faith, and I was rejoiced to see his honesty and courage, although I could not rejoice at the confession of faith in itself, which was a very imperfect recognition of the Christian revelation, and which acknowledged in Christ merely a human and moral teacher, although as such the model and the ideal of humanity. Parker belongs to the Unitarian body; and to that section of it which denies miracles, and everything that requires supernatural agency in the sacred history. That which really displeased me was, that Parker asserted that he regarded Christ as standing in no other relationship to God than did all mankind; and that he merely was mentioned in history as “a modest young man from Galilee.” How can a lover of truth read the sacred history, and expressions such as these, “He who has seen me has seen the Father;” “The Father is in me, and I in Him:” and many others of a similar kind, and yet make such an assertion?
After the sermon some ladies who were unknown to me, came up, and accosting me with much warmth and kindness, said they hoped that I was pleased; that I was satisfied, etc. I replied that I was not wholly so! and declined to be introduced to the preacher, as, according to custom here, immediately after service introductions take place in the churches, and conversation is carried on, which is not only unpleasant but quite out of place.
In the afternoon Benzon read aloud to Mr. K., Bergfalk, and myself, an “Essay on the American Mind,” by a Mr. Whipple; it is writted in a lively manner, takes broad views, and is not without marks of genius. It has been very much talked about, and furnished us also with matter for conversation.
In the evening I had a visit from Theodore Parker. I am so great a lover of courage in all forms, and of every unreserved expression of opinion and belief, that I extended my hand to Parker, thanking him cordially for his candour. But I nevertheless told him frankly my objections to his Christology, and we had a good deal of quiet controversy. I found Parker extremely agreeable to converse with, willing to listen, gentle, earnest, and cordial. I stated to him also my objections against the Unitarian point of view in general, because from it many of the greatest and most important questions as regards God, humanity and life, must be left unsolved, and never can be solved. Parker heard me with much kindness and seriousness, and conceded various things, conceded among others the reasonableness of miracles, when regarded as produced by a power in nature, but not out of it,—the law of nature on a larger scale.
As I said before, Parker has a Socratic head; he has a pure and strongly moral mind; he is like Waldo Emerson, captivated by the moral ideal; and this he places before his hearers in words full of a strong vitality, and produces by them a higher love for truth and justice in the human breast. Parker, however, as a theologist is not powerful; nor can he talk well upon the most sublime and most holy doctrines of revelation, because he does not understand them. In his outbursts against the petrified orthodoxy, and the petrified church, he is often happy and true. But I think that people may say of him as somebody said about a greater man, Luther, “Il a bien critiqué mais pauvrement doctriné.” Parker, however, investigates earnestly, and speaks out his thoughts honestly, and that is always a great merit. More we can hardly desire of a man. Beyond this he teaches to be very good, to do much good; and I believe that from his kind and beautiful eyes. In short I like the man.
The next day Benzon accompanied me to Cambridge to the Lowells; from whom, as I have already said, I had received an invitation through Mr. Downing, who had written to the poet of the pleasure which his writings had given me.
There I have now been a week, and shall remain yet a week longer; they will have me stay, and I am quite willing to stay, because I am well off to my heart's content in this excellent and agreeable home. The house, and a small quantity of land which surrounds it, belong to the father of the poet, old Dr. Lowell, a handsome old man, universally beloved and respected, and the oldest minister in Massachussets. He planted all the trees round the house, among which are many beautiful northern pines. The whole family assembles every day for morning and evening prayer around the venerable old man; and he it is who blesses every meal. His prayers, which are always extempore, are full of the true and inward life, and I felt them as a pleasant, refreshing dew upon my head, and seldom arose from my knees with dry eyes. With him live his youngest son, the poet, and his wife; such a handsome and happy young couple as one can hardly imagine. He is full of life and youthful ardour, she as gentle, as delicate and as fair as a lily, and one of the most loveable women that I have seen in this country, because her beauty is full of soul and grace, as is everything which she does or says. This young couple belong to the class of those of whom one can be quite sure; one could not for an hour, nay not for half an hour, be doubtful about them. She, like him, has a poetical tendency, and has also written anonymously some poems, remarkable for their deep and tender feeling, especially maternal, but her mind has more philosophical depth than his. Singularly enough I did not discern in him that deeply earnest spirit which charmed me in many of his poems. He seems to me occasionally to be brilliant, witty, gay, especially in the evening, when he has what he calls his “evening fever,” and his talk is then like an incessant play of fire-works. I find him very agreeable and amiable: he seems to have many friends, mostly young men. Among his poems the witty and satirical are the most popular; as, for example, his “Fable for Critics,” in which, in a good-humoured way, he has made himself merry with the poets and poetesses of New England, only one of whom, Margaret Fuller, is severely handled. His satirical, political, fugitive pieces, have been very successful. As one of his merits I reckon his being so fascinated by his little wife, because I am so myself. There is a trace of beauty and taste in every thing she touches, whether of mind or body; and above all, she beautifies life. Among other beautiful things which she has created around her in her home, I have remarked a little basin full of beautiful stones and shells, which she herself collected; they lie glittering in water clear as crystal, and round them is a border of coral. Pity it is that this much loved young wife seems to have delicate lungs. Her low, weak voice tells of this. Two lovely little girls, Mabel and Rose, the latter yet at the mother's breast, and an elder sister of the poet, one of the worthy and the good, constitute the remainder of the family.
I saw here some gentlemen of the University who interested me; among them Mr. Everett, a man of learning and of rank, formerly ambassador to the British Court; the natural historian, Professor Agassiz, who has an unusually agreeable appearance and manner (and who presented his betrothed to me, a tall blonde young American lady); as well as the astronomer, Professor Holmes, (I believe that is his name) whose head is singularly beautiful, and who brought with him two hand some daughters. I have also paid some visits.
The general topic of conversation for the time is the murder of Professor Parkman by Mr. Webster, the Professor of Chemistry. People talk for and against. One friend of the accused, a lawyer of high standing, Judge T., says that he is perfectly persuaded of his innocence. So also a pleasant and sensible woman, Mrs. F., who saw a good deal of him, and for the last time a few days after the supposed murder, when he spent an evening at her house, played at whist, and was more cheerful and agreeable than usual. Young Lowell, on the contrary, believes Webster to be guilty, from various things which he lately heard of his character and associates as a young man. He has for a long time lived beyond his means, and the occasion of the murder was a small sum of money, a few hundred dollars which he had borrowed from Professor Parkman, who let him have no peace, so urgent was he for their repayment. This Parkman must have been a very singular man. Rich though he was, he would literally persecute and torment poor people to whom he had lent money, until it was repaid by them, or they allowed him interest. Yet would he the very next day send money to these same people as a gift, or under some pretence or other, never however as from himself, but as from some one else. He wished before men to appear as an unsparing judge.
In this way he not long since persecuted Webster, until the latter under pretence of settling with him, decoyed him into the chemical laboratory in Boston, where he made an end of him, in what manner is not yet known. They have merely found fragments of the body, which Webster had endeavoured partly to burn and partly to conceal. Webster boldly denies the deed, but having made an attempt to poison himself in prison, the suspicion against him is greatly increased.
At the end of next week I shall leave the Lowells, and remain for a few days with my little lady-physician; after that, I remain at Benzon's house, probably until I leave Boston. Benzon arranged with Rebecca that she was to persuade me to this; and as they proposed to settle the whole thing, it is both advisable and agreeable to me. Benzon himself is unmarried, but as the wife of his associate, Mr. K., superintends his house, I can be boarded with her after Benzon has left for Europe, which will be about the beginning of January. This is highly agreeable to me also, in an economic point of view. Benzon is a very good man, of a noble mind and refined education, refined and delicate in his manners, so that one can accept such a kindness at his hands, and besides that have pleasure in his society. And, moreover, I can be more free in his house, and have much more quiet than I could any where else, at least in any of those families which have kindly been opened to me: for there the duties of society would be incumbent upon me, which they will not be here. So that I believe it could not be better arranged for me than it now is.
December 16th.—Good morning, my little Agatha; this bright, rather windy and cold day, I saw the sun rise in the morning and shine into my bed through the fir-trees before my window: and Sweden and my beloved ones were so near to me in this salutation of the sun through the pine-trees, that I saluted that new sun for them as well as for myself, and saluted this new world which gave and gives me so much of life and interest.
I have now spent some quiet days in Cambridge, the quietest days which I have spent since I came into this country. I now see company and receive visits only in the evenings. Bergfalk is now also in Cambridge, and happy in the company of a library of 14,000 volumes, and of various lawyers who embrace him warmly. With him and my young host, I one day lately visited the several buildings of the University and the library. In the latter I was surprised to find one portion of the Swedish literature not badly represented here. This is owing to the poet, Professor Longfellow, who having himself travelled in Sweden sent hither these books. He has also written about Sweden, and has translated several of Tegnér's poems. I found also the Eddas among the Swedish books. Bergfalk laid his hands on the Westgötha laws, which he treated as an old friend, and in which he showed some of the gentlemen who accompanied us, an example of that alliteration which was so much in vogue in the writings of our forefathers, and about which the gentlemen found much to say. I saw also Audubon's large and really magnificent work on the American birds, a work of genius besides.
Among the visitors whom I have seen and who have interested me, are a Mrs. R. and her daughter Ida. Ida was born in Sweden where her father was chargé d'affaires many years, and although she left the country as a child, she has retained an affection for Sweden and the Swedes. She is a handsome and agreeable young lady. Her mother looks like goodness itself.
“I cannot promise you much that is entertaining,” said she, in inviting me to her house, “but I will nurse you!”
I could not but embrace her for this motherly good will; but ah! that which I need is not continually ranging and flitting about from house to house, but to be quiet for a while. I promised nevertheless to go to them (they live in the country, some miles on the other side of Boston) on Christmas-eve, which they will keep in a northern fashion, with Christmas pine-twigs, Christmas candles, and Christmas-boxes, and, as I perceive, great ceremony. But more than all the Christmas-candles, and the Christmas-boxes, do I need—a little rest.
23rd.—I have been this week to several dinner-parties—one very excellent at the house of Professor Longfellow and his handsome and agreeable wife. Their house is handsome, and there we met Miss Charlotte Cushman and Miss Hays, a young English lady of interesting appearance, very quiet and noble deportment, who travels with her and is her friend, Charles Sumner and a couple of other gentlemen. Longfellow is an agreeable host, and gave us American wines, sherry and champagne, the latter I thought especially good; it is made from the Cataba grape at Cincinnati. We dined also at the house of the pleasing and lively Mrs. F., whose husband is a martyr to neuralgia, which makes many martyrs in this country. I could scarcely avoid shedding tears when I saw him, he looked so suffering, yet so perfectly patient, as he sat there quite lame in his wheeled chair.
Farther, we dined at Professor P.'s, a Swedenborgian, who showed me much kindness ; and farther still, I have been at a —— Bee! And if you would know what the creature is in the life of society here—then, behold!—Is a family reduced to poverty by sickness or fire, and the children are in want of clothes or whatever else it may be, immediately a number of ladies of the neighbourhood who are in good circumstances meet together at one place to sew for them. Such a sewing-assembly as this is called a Bee!
And now there was a Bee at the house of Mrs. S., the lady of the President of the University, to sew for a family who had lost all their clothing by fire, and I was invited to be present at it. The bee-hive was excellent, and busy, and cheerful, and had—if not honey—remarkably good milk and cake to offer the working bees, among whom I took my place, but not to do very much myself.
A merry little man, Professor K., a Dane by birth, and a true Dane in naïveté and loquacity, has visited and amused us many times. He has associated himself with a Polish professor, one as large and stately as the Dane is little and lively, and the two are always together disputing and making speeches,—singing each his own songs in so amazingly contrasting a manner, that Maria Lowell and myself kept this evening continually bursting into fits of laughter.
Professor Desor, a Swiss and naturalist, has interested me greatly by his anecdotes of natural history and his friendly attentions.
In the evenings when I and my young friends are alone, we read; Maria reads her husband's poetry charmingly well, or I relate to them some little romantic passage, or a Swedish love or ghost-story, or I beg of them to relate such to me. In this way I soon become at home in a family.
But the New World is too young, and has too few old houses and old rubbish for ghosts to thrive there; and as to love-stories they do not seem to be remarkable enough to become historical, except in the homes and the hearts where they live in silence. But still, every home in which I have yet lived gives me its love-history, as its best flower, before I have left it; it always amuses me very much, and I am filled with manifold admiration of the blind, or rather the clairvoyant, god's devices for making one out of two.
I go out every day, either with my young friends or alone. With them I visited, to-day, Mount Auburn, the great burial-place of Boston, a romantic, park-like district, with hills and valleys, and beautiful trees. Elms seem to be the favourite trees of Massachussets. I never saw such large and beautiful elms as here. They shoot aloft, palm-like, with branching trunks, and spread forth their crowns, bending down their branches in the most pliant and graceful manner. In their branches, now leafless, I often see a little, well-built bird's-nest hang, swinging in the wind. It is a small and very delicate bird, called the oriole, which thus builds a cradle for its young, and its bed must be very pleasant. It has thus built in the branches of an immense elm at Cambridge, called Washington's elm.
The weather is for the most part beautiful and sunny, and the colour of the sky wonderfully clear and bright. Its beauty and the transparency of the atmosphere charms me. The weather was enchanting yesterday; it was like a spring-day. I frequently go alone to a tract of land where the road soon ceases, but where the view is extensive over the grassy fields; the ridge of the lofty horizon is clothed with pine-woods, and everywhere, both near and afar off, are seen small clusters of white houses and churches. The grass is now withered and yellow, but when the wind sweeps over it, it bears with it—I know not what extraordinarily agreeable odour, which produces a wonderful effect upon me: memories pleasant and affecting, beloved countenances, glances, voices come to me in it; a thousand feelings, thoughts, presentiments; life becomes too full; the heart overflows, and my eyes swim with tears: how is it?—I feel myself less strong than formerly, and I often have a sensation of fever.—I need rest.—Many also say the same, but not many wish it for me. We shall see, we shall see whether I am able to go to Milton Hill (to the R.'s), and keep Christmas. I wish it, intend it, but——
December 25th. Ah! no, my child. The journey has not taken place. I had already begun to pack my portmanteau, but I could not manage it, and my courage failed. I wrote to say it was impossible (by a young gentleman who was going to the festivity) and thus I passed Christmas-eve quite alone with Maria Lowell. I sewed, and she read aloud to me her husband's new work which had been published the day before. Thus we conversed quietly and inwardly from the open heart and soul—even as we may converse in heaven. All the rest of the family were gone to an entertainment at Boston.
The Christmas-eve of the year before I had spent in Denmark with the beautiful and excellent Queen Caroline Amalia. The year before that with you at Årsta, with Christmas branches, and cheer, and dance, for our country-children, a merry company! then to the Christmas matins the next morning. And now this evening in another hemisphere, alone with a beloved young wife—beautiful, dissimilar pictures of life!
In the morning I shall leave this family and Cambridge. I have visited many homes in this neighbourhood; all are alike in the internal construction, neatness, arrangement and comfort; in some there is a little more, in others a little less beauty; in that lies the principal difference. Longfellow's is among the most beautiful and the most artistic homes I have seen here. One beautiful decoration which I have seen in the homes here, as well as in the other small houses of New England which I have visited, is a large bouquet, a regularly gigantic bouquet of the beautiful grasses of the country, and which, if we are to judge by these specimens, are of gigantic growth. These are placed as decorations in vases in the parlour, and used also in other ways. One often sees little humming birds, not of course alive, fluttering among the grasses. I have seen also groups of the beautiful birds of the country, and shells, used for the decoration of rooms, and these seem to me excellent, and in the best taste. We, even in Sweden, might have such, if we would set more store on that which is our own—through the gift and favour of God.
I cannot tell you how kind the Lowells were and are to me. I have sketches of them in my album and in my heart, and you shall see them in both.
I must now say farewell, and kiss you and mamma in spirit. I always fancy myself writing to both at once. May I only soon receive good letters from my dear ones! That would be the best Christmas-box that I could receive.
I had almost forgotten—and that I ought not to do—to tell you of a visit I have had this evening from the Quaker and poet Whittier, one of the purest and most gifted of the poetical minds of the Northern States, glowing for freedom, truth and justice, combating for them in his songs and against their enemies in the social life of the New World; one of those Puritans who will not bend to or endure injustice in any form. He has a good exterior, in figure is slender and tall, a beautiful head with refined features, black eyes full of fire, dark complexion, a fine smile, and lively, but very nervous manner. Both soul and spirit have overstrained the nervous chords and wasted the body. He belongs to those natures who would advance with firmness and joy to martyrdom in a good cause, and yet who are never comfortable in society, and who look as if they would run out of the door every moment. He lives with his mother and sister in a country-house, to which I have promised to go. I feel that I should enjoy myself with Whittier, and could make him feel at ease with me. I know from my own experience what this nervous bashfulness, caused by the over-exertion of the brain, requires, and how persons who suffer therefrom ought to be met and treated.
I have had a little botanic conversation with the distinguished Professor of Botany here, Asa Gray, who came and presented me with a bouquet of fragrant violets. He gave me also out of his herbarium some specimens of the American Linnea borealis, which resembles our Swedish, but is considerably less, and has somewhat different leaves. I thought that I should botanise a great deal in this country, but God knows how it is! The good Downing sent me to-day a large basket, a gigantic basket-full of the most magnificent apples, alike splendid as excellent, and I had the pleasure of being able to treat my young friends with them. The Downings and the S——s are incomparably kind to me.
Among the curiosities of my stay in Cambridge, I set down an invitation I had one evening to go and take a walk in Paradise with Adam and Eve. The gentleman from whom it came, first in writing and then by word of mouth, (I fancy he exhibits some sort of a wax-work show) gave me a hint that several gentlemen of the Academic State would avail themselves of this opportunity of making my acquaintance—in Paradise—in company with Adam and Eve. You may very well imagine what was my answer. Beautiful company!
In conclusion I ought indeed to say a word or two about Cambridge, an excellent little city of small white houses, with small courts and gardens, and beautiful lofty trees, regular and ornamental, but monotonous. I should in the end be tempted to sing here—“The same and same always would make our lives sour!” Variety beautifies the whole of nature.
Here also was I shown several very handsome houses, belonging, the one to a bricklayer, the other to a carpenter, a third to a cabinet-maker, and so on: thus universally do common handicraft trades lead to honour and to property in this country.
The University is attended by about five hundred students yearly. It is wholly a Unitarian establishment, and belongs to the Unitarian Church. All branches of natural history are much studied here. Now however people say that the example of the chemical professor Webster proves that they do not produce much sanctity. The history of this murder continues to be the topic of general conversation, and proofs of Webster's guilt accumulate more and more. He however continues to deny it. An event of this kind is without parallel in this community, and seems to every one almost incredible.