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of art to bring me nearer to the source of all beauty and perfection. I find wealth of coloring, freedom of design, and capability of expression wasting themselves merely in portraying trivial sensualities and commonplace ideas. So much for the
In the evening we went to dine with our old friends of the Dingle, Mr. and Mrs. Edward Cropper, who are now spending a little time in London. We were delighted to meet them once more, and to hear from our Liverpool friends. Mrs. Cropper's father, Lord Denman, has returned to England, though with no sensible improvement in his health.
At dinner we were introduced to Lord and Lady Hatherton. Lord Hatherton is a member of the whig party, and has been chief secretary for Ireland. Lady Hatherton is a person of great cultivation and intelligence, warmly interested in all the progressive movements of the day; and I gained much information in her society. There were also present Sir Charles and Lady Trevelyan; the former holds some appointment in the navy. Lady Trevelyan is a sister of Macaulay.
In the evening quite a circle came in; among others, Lady Emma Campbell, sister of the Duke of Argyle; the daughters of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who very kindly invited me to visit them at Lambeth; and Mr. Arthur Helps, besides many others whose names I need not mention.
People here continually apologize for the weather, which, to say the least, has been rather ungracious since we have been here; as if one ever expected to find any thing but smoke, and darkness, and fog in London. The authentic air with which they lament the existence of these things at present would almost persuade one that in general London was a very clear, bright place. I, however, assured them that, hav
ing heard from my childhood of the smoke of London, its dimness and darkness, I found things much better than I had expected.
They talk here of spirit rappings and table turnings, I find, as in America. Many rumors are afloat which seem to have no other effect than merely to enliven the chitchat of an evening circle. I passed a very pleasant evening, and left about ten o'clock. The gentleman who was handing me down stairs said, “I suppose you are going to one or two other places to-night.” The idea struck me as so preposterous that I could not help an exclamation of surprise.
May 6. A good many calls this morning. Among others came Miss Greenfield, the (so called) Black Swan. She appears to be a gentle, amiable, and interesting young person. She was born the slave of a kind mistress, who gave
every thing but education, and, dying, left her free with a little property. The property she lost by some legal quibble, but had, like others of her race, a passion for music, and could sing and play by ear. A young lady, discovering her taste, gave her a few lessons. She has a most astonishing voice. C. sat down to the piano and played, while she sung. Her voice runs through a compass of three octaves and a fourth. This is four notes more than Malibran’s. She sings a most magnificent tenor, with such a breadth and volume of sound that, with your back turned, you could not imagine it to be a wo
While she was there, Mrs. S. C. Hall, of the Irish Sketches, was announced. She is a tall, well-proportioned woman, with a fine color, dark-brown hair, and a cheerful, cordial manner. She brought with her her only daughter, a young girl about fifteen. I told her of Miss Greenfield, and she took great interest in her, and requested her to sing some
thing for her. C. played the accompaniment, and she sung Old Folks at Home, first in a soprano voice, and then in a tenor or baritone. Mrs. Hall was amazed and delighted, and entered at once into her cause. She said that she would call with me and present her to Sir George Smart, who is at the head of the queen's musical establishment, and, of course, the acknowledged leader of London musical judgment.
Mrs. Hall very kindly told me that she had called to invite me to seek a retreat with her in her charming little country house near London. I do not mean that she called it a charming little retreat, but that every one who speaks of it gives it that character. She told me that I should there have positive and perfect quiet; and what could attract me more than that? She said, moreover, that there they had a great many nightingales. Ah, this “bower of roses by Bendemeer's stream,” could I only go there! but I am tied to London by a hundred engagements. I cannot do it. Nevertheless, I have promised that I will go and spend some time yet, when Mr. S. leaves London.
In the course of the day I had a note from Mrs. Hall, saying that, as Sir George Smart was about leaving town, she had not waited for me, but had taken Miss Greenfield to him herself. She writes that he was really astonished and charmed at the wonderful weight, compass, and power of her voice. He was also as well pleased with the mind in her singing, and her quickness in doing and catching all that he told her. Should she have a public opportunity to perform, he offered to hear her rehearse beforehand. Mrs. Hall says this is a great deal for him, whose hours are all marked with gold.
In the evening the house was opened in a general way for
callers, who were coming and going all the evening. I think there must have been over two hundred people — among them Martin Farquhar Tupper, a little man, with fresh, rosy complexion, and cheery, joyous manners; and Mary Howitt, just such a cheerful, sensible, fireside companion as we find her in her books, — winning love and trust the very first few moments of the interview. The general topic of remark on meeting me seems to be, that I am not so bad looking as they were afraid I was; and I do assure you that, when I have seen the things that are put up in the shop windows here with my name under them, I have been in wondering admiration at the boundless loving-kindness of my English and Scottish friends, in keeping up such a warm heart for such a Gorgon. I should think that the Sphinx in the London Museum might have sat for most of them. I am going to make a collection of these portraits to bring home to you. There is a great variety of them, and they will be useful, like the Irishman's guideboard, which showed where the road did not go.
Before the evening was through I was talked out and worn out -- there was hardly a chip of me left. To-morrow at eleven o'clock comes the meeting at Stafford House. What it will amount to I do not know; but I take no thought for the
MY DEAR C.:
In fulfilment of my agreement, I will tell you, as nearly as I can remember, all the details of the meeting at Stafford House.
At about eleven o'clock we drove under the arched carriage way of a mansion, externally, not very showy in appear
It stands on the borders of St. James's Park, opposite to Buckingham Palace, with a street on the north side, and beautiful gardens on the south, while the park is extended on the west.
We were received at the door by two stately Highlanders in full costume; and what seemed to me an innumerable multitude of servants in livery, with powdered hair, repeated our names through the long corridors, from one to another.
I have only a confused idea of passing from passage to passage, and from hall to hall, till finally we were introduced into a large drawing room. No person was present, and I was at full leisure to survey an apartment whose arrangements more perfectly suited my eye and taste than any I had ever seen before. There was not any particular splendor of furniture, or dazzling display of upholstery, but an artistic, poetic air, resulting from the arrangement of colors, and the disposition of the works of virtu with which the room abounded. The great fault in many splendid rooms, is, that they