Thus the Englishman would not talk, the Frenchman could not, and the intelligent, loquacious American driver, who discourses on politics, religion, national institutions, and social gossip was unknown on that side of the Atlantic. What the curious American traveler could find out himself from observation and pertinacious seeking he was welcome to, but the Briton would waste no breath to enlighten Yankees as to the points of interest or customs of his country.
Stanton, and myself. I had many amusing experiences in making my wants known when alone, having forgotten most of my French. For instance, traveling night and day in the diligence to Paris, as the stops were short, one was sometimes in need of something to eat. One night as my companions were all asleep, I went out to get a piece of cake or a cracker, or whatever of that sort I could obtain, but, owing to my clumsy use of the language, I was misunderstood.
Just as the diligence was about to start, and the shout for us to get aboard was heard, the waiter came running with a piping hot plate of sweetbreads nicely broiled. I had waited and wondered why it took so long to get a simple piece of cake or biscuit, and lo!
I could not take the frizzling thing in my hand nor eat it without bread, knife, or fork, so I hurried off to the coach, the man pursuing me to the very door. I was vexed and disappointed, while the rest of the party were convulsed with laughter at the parting salute and my attempt to make my way alone. It was some time before I heard the last of the "sweetbreads. Every morning early he was at the door, rain or shine, to carry out our plans, which, with the aid of our guidebook, we had made the evening before.
In this way, going steadily, day after day, we visited all points of interest for miles round and sailed up and down the Seine.
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The Palace of the Tuileries, with its many associations with a long line of more or less unhappy kings and queens, was then in its glory, and its extensive and beautiful grounds were always gay with crowds of happy people. These gardens were a great resort for nurses and children and were furnished with all manner of novel appliances for their amusement, including beautiful little carriages drawn by four goats with girls or boys driving, boats sailing in the air, seemingly propelled by oars, and hobby horses flying round on whirligigs with boys vainly trying to catch each other.
No people have ever taken the trouble to invent so many amusements for children as have the French. The people enjoyed being always in the open air, night and day. The parks are crowded with amusement seekers, some reading and playing games, some sewing, knitting, playing on musical instruments, dancing, sitting around tables in bevies eating, drinking, and gayly chatting.
And yet, when they drive in carriages or go to their homes at night, they will shut themselves in as tight as oysters in their shells. They have a theory that night air is very injurious,--in the house,--although they will sit outside until midnight. I found this same superstition prevalent in France fifty years later. We visited the Hotel des Invalides just as they were preparing the sarcophagus for the reception of the remains of Napoleon.
We witnessed the wild excitement of that enthusiastic people, and listened with deep interest to the old soldiers' praises of their great general. The ladies of our party chatted freely with them. They all had interesting anecdotes to relate of their chief.
They said he seldom slept over four hours, was an abstemious eater, and rarely changed a servant, as he hated a strange face about him. He was very fond of a game of chess, and snuffed continuously; talked but little, was a light sleeper,--the stirring of a mouse would awaken him,--and always on the watch-tower.
They said that, in his great campaigns, he seemed to be omnipresent. A sentinel asleep at his post would sometimes waken to find Napoleon on duty in his place. The body was conveyed to the Church of the Invalides, which adjoins the tomb.
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At that time each soldier had a little patch of land to decorate as he pleased, in which many scenes from their great battles were illustrated. One represented Napoleon crossing the Alps. There were the cannon, the soldiers, Napoleon on horseback, all toiling up the steep ascent, perfect in miniature. In another was Napoleon, flag in hand, leading the charge across the bridge of Lodi.
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In still another was Napoleon in Egypt, before the Pyramids, seated, impassive, on his horse, gazing at the Sphinx, as if about to utter his immortal words to his soldiers: "Here, forty centuries look down upon us. I little thought, as I witnessed that great event in France in , that fifty-seven years later I should witness a similar pageant in the American Republic, when our nation paid its last tributes to General Grant. There are many points of similarity in these great events. As men they were alike aggressive and self-reliant. In Napoleon's will he expressed the wish that his last resting place might be in the land and among the people he loved so well.
His desire is fulfilled. He rests in the chief city of the French republic, whose shores are washed by the waters of the Seine. General Grant expressed the wish that he might be interred in our metropolis and added: "Wherever I am buried, I desire that there shall be room for my wife by my side. He rests in the chief city of the American Republic, whose shores are washed by the waters of the Hudson, and in his magnificent mausoleum there is room for his wife by his side.
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Several members of the Society of Friends from Boston and Philadelphia, who had attended the World's Anti-slavery Convention in London, joined our party for a trip on the Continent. Though opposed to war, they all took a deep interest in the national excitement and in the pageants that heralded the expected arrival of the hero from Saint Helena. As they all wore military coats of the time of George Fox, the soldiers, supposing they belonged to the army of some country, gave them the military salute wherever we went, much to their annoyance and our amusement.
In going the rounds, Miss Pugh amused us by reading aloud the description of what we were admiring and the historical events connected with that particular building or locality. We urged her to spend the time taking in all she could see and to read up afterward; but no, a history of France and Galignani's guide she carried everywhere, and, while the rest of us looked until we were fully satisfied, she took a bird's-eye view and read the description. Dear little woman! She was a fine scholar, a good historian, was well informed on all subjects and countries, proved an invaluable traveling companion, and could tell more of what we saw than all the rest of us together.
On several occasions we chanced to meet Louis Philippe dashing by in an open barouche.
We felt great satisfaction in remembering that at one time he was an exile in our country, where he earned his living by teaching school. What an honor for Yankee children to have been taught, by a French king, the rudiments of his language. Having been accustomed to the Puritan Sunday of restraint and solemnity, I found that day in Paris gay and charming.
The first time I entered into some of the festivities, I really expected to be struck by lightning. The libraries, art galleries, concert halls, and theaters were all open to the people.
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Bands of music were playing in the parks, where whole families, with their luncheons, spent the day--husbands, wives, and children, on an excursion together. The boats on the Seine and all public conveyances were crowded. Those who had but this one day for pleasure seemed determined to make the most of it. A wonderful contrast with that gloomy day in London, where all places of amusement were closed and nothing open to the people but the churches and drinking saloons.
The streets and houses in which Voltaire, La Fayette, Mme. Roland, Charlotte Corday, and other famous men and women lived and died, were pointed out to us. We little thought, then, of all the terrible scenes to be enacted in Paris, nor that France would emerge from the dangers that beset her on every side into a sister republic. It has been a wonderful achievement, with kings and Popes all plotting against her experiment, that she has succeeded in putting kingcraft under her feet and proclaimed liberty, equality, fraternity for her people. After a few weeks in France, we returned to London, traveling through England, Ireland, and Scotland for several months.
We visited the scenes that Shakespeare, Burns, and Dickens had made classic. We spent a few days at Huntingdon, the home of Oliver Cromwell, and visited the estate where he passed his early married life. While there, one of his great admirers read aloud to us a splendid article in one of the reviews, written by Carlyle, giving "The Protector," as his friend said, his true place in history. It was long the fashion of England's historians to represent Cromwell as a fanatic and hypocrite, but his character was vindicated by later writers.
The cup which has intoxicated almost all others sobered him. It was a desolate region. We stopped a day or two at Ayr and drove out to the birthplace of Burns. The old house that had sheltered him was still there, but its walls now echoed to other voices, and the fields where he had toiled were plowed by other hands. We saw the stream and banks where he and Mary sat together, the old stone church where the witches held their midnight revels, the two dogs, and the bridge of Ayr.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
With Burns, as with Sappho, it was love that awoke his heart to song. A bonny lass who worked with him in the harvest field inspired his first attempts at rhyme. Life, with Burns, was one long, hard struggle. With his natural love for the beautiful, the terrible depression of spirits he suffered from his dreary surroundings was inevitable.
The interest great men took in him, when they awoke to his genius, came too late for his safety and encouragement. In a glass of whisky he found, at last, the rest and cheer he never knew when sober. Poverty and ignorance are the parents of intemperance, and that vice will never be suppressed until the burdens of life are equally shared by all.
We saw Melrose by moonlight, spent several hours at Abbotsford, and lingered in the little sanctum sanctorum where Scott wrote his immortal works. It was so small that he could reach the bookshelves on every side. We went through the prisons, castles, and narrow streets of Edinburgh, where the houses are seven and eight stories high, each story projecting a few feet until, at the uppermost, opposite neighbors could easily shake hands and chat together.
All the intervals from active sight-seeing we spent in reading the lives of historical personages in poetry and prose, until our sympathies flowed out to the real and ideal characters. Here among the Scotch lakes and mountains Mr. Stanton and I were traveling alone for the first time since our marriage, and as we both enjoyed walking, we made many excursions on foot to points that could not be reached in any other way. We spent some time among the Grampian Hills, so familiar to every schoolboy, walking, and riding about on donkeys. We sailed up and down Loch Katrine and Loch Lomond.