« PreviousContinue »
knew and many of whom he counted as friends, made for a certain composure and contentment of spirit to which his life in Washington had been a stranger. As his friend James G. Blaine remarked in a letter written before he had taken his seat, he could “now set his house in order for a twelveyear service in the Senate at least.” But the whole letter is worth quoting for the feeling of the times which it conveys:
You have arranged your matter very properly — or rather your friends have arranged it for you — as I know very well that personally you have nothing to do with “arrangements” either good or bad. But it is a good thing; and it is far better for your personal ease and for party harmony than to have simply beaten P—d in the Legislature — as you would have done—and then left him a chronic sore-head.
You can now “set your house in order” for a twelve-year service in the Senate, at least. I fear you will not take so much interest in the lower branch next winter, after your formal election to the “House of Lords.” You will be somewhat in the position of a college student between Senior examination and Commencement Day. Perhaps your habits of methodical industry will make you overcome this tendency — but you will find it quite difficult.
My health is becoming quite firm. We have had most delightful weather for three weeks. Pitt" is looking very well. I saw him a few days since.
Andy” has begun to decapitate in this State. He removed the principal Collector of Customs in my District last week — substituting a backsliding Republican, who was a creditable soldier.
With regards to your family and apologies for this long and hasty scrawl, I am as ever
Your friend sincerely
Easily as he entered into the ways of the Senate, and warm as was his welcome there, he found himself in the possession of unaccustomed leisure. He came from the position of Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, perhaps the hardest-worked place in the House, to that of an ordinary * Senator Fessenden. *Andrew Johnson.
member of the Committee on Finance, with no responsibilities and the light duties of a newcomer. Conditions made for leisure. The contest between Congress and the President occupied men's minds and blocked legislation. In February his mother, who had been gradually failing and about whom he had felt anxious, died at the age of seventy-nine, and this, together with the relief from legislative toil and responsibility, allowed him to plan a long-contemplated visit to Europe. When it appeared that the proposed impeachment of the President, in which he took only a moderate interest, would continue to absorb attention and would probably prevent a summer session, he invited Blaine to join him and the two set off with eager zest.
THE tour was an unqualified success. The two travelers returned in September, after three months in Europe, with a stock of pleasant memories and with mutual regard higher than when they set out. As Blaine's biographer records, “They sailed into New York Harbor on their return, agreeing that if the journey were to be taken again, each could choose no better companionship,” and this in spite of a great disparity of years, for Morrill was Blaine's senior by twenty years. What is still pleasanter to record, twenty years later both still recalled the voyage as a happy memory. In 1887, Blaine, again abroad, was so strongly reminded of the happy hours of the earlier visit that he wrote his old traveling companion: Being here on a general run through Ireland, I am forcibly reminded of one morning twenty years ago in June last when you and I reached here after our night in Queenstown. The recollections of that trip have always been among the most pleasant of my life, and are of course indelibly and most agreeably associated with you. Much has happened since, which neither of us could foresee then, but through it all, throughout its sunshine and its storms,
I have always felt that I had your regard, as you have had mine in full measure.
Morrill's reply shows that the memory on both sides was equally vivid and pleasant. He wrote of “places around which my memory still lingers where twenty years ago we were together and enjoyed, as Yankees do a dinner, a great deal in a short time. How marvelous was the first view of the beauty of the Emerald Isle, as well as that of the land of Burns and Scott, and then of Shakespeare and Chatham, with the Cathedrals, House of Parliament- Kennebec Morse, our prim plenipo Adams, the Chichester races, etc. Across the Channel we found Napoleon the Little with his troop of roo black horses at his heels in all his glory, but all that has vanished. ... It is difficult for me to wholly dismiss from memory even the minor notes of our trip: the Irish dogcarts and Blarney stone, or the Alpine horn and tagging beggars, or ... and it was all made delightful by having you as a companion.” Both Morrill and Blaine were inclined to boast of the ground they covered in the allotted time. From London Blaine wrote: It is only five days since we landed at Queenstown.... An attentive study of the trains and the notable localities that are accessible on the route has enabled us to do more in these five days than tourists often accomplish in two or three weeks. We find a great number of those who came over on the “China” with us here at the Langham, and all they have done is simply to travel from Liverpool, stopping nowhere and seeing nothing. We have seen rural England, ridden on its fine roads, talked with its people, seen its splendid country seats."
The travelers were treated everywhere with marked consideration. They were invited to dine with Charles Francis Adams, the American Minister, and George Peabody, the famous American merchant, placed at their disposal his seats at the opera. Every one seemed desirous of showing them attention:
Next morning [wrote Blaine] we called on Mr. Adams and were very cordially received. He said he would send his Secretary of Legation to our hotel at 3.30 to escort us to Parliament House and procure our admission to the floor. ... Mr. Forster was in his seat, and, hearing about us from Mr. Morse, he did not wait to be introduced, but came right over, and soon after brought John Stuart Mill, and then Lord Amberley and many other of the Liberal members.
* Gail Hamilton, Life of Blaine, page 184.
After about half an hour, Mr. Forster, having left us for a few minutes, returned with the compliments of the Right Honorable John Evelyn Dennison, Speaker of the House, inviting us to take seats on the Peers' Bench, – a most eligible location, — and sending us word that during our stay in London he would be happy to have us occupy that seat whenever it might suit our Pleasure.
After staying for several hours we repaired to the House of Lords, and here again we had seats on the floor, at “the foot of the throne.” We had an admirable chance of seeing all the notables in both Houses, Derby, Disraeli, Russell, Stanley, etc.; we did not see Bright or Gladstone, as they are both out of town. I never cared for a sight so much as the British Parliament, and I have now seen it under the most favorable circumstances.... But withal it is a body of notable men worth a trip across the Atlantic to see. ... Mr. Morrill is a capital traveling companion in every sense — even-tempered and with wide-awake interest and attention."
Though the biographer is not prepared to claim for Morrill's travel letters any exceptional insight or any extraordinary literary excellence, they throw so many lights upon his tastes, opinions, and habits of mind that generous excerpts seem worth including. He addressed his letters either to his wife or his sister-in-law as the mood struck him, knowing that they were as one, and in his first long letter to Miss Swan, written from Dublin, described what kind of letters he should attempt:
Perhaps a sort of journalistic account of the places I pass through and the objects seen will be of more interest than letters of any other character, and while I cannot jot down hints of a tithe I see, I shall in the main pursue this course to the end of my journey and so, dear Louise, all the record of this to me rather important trip, and since I landed a trip brimful of compensatory joys to offset the ocean imprisonment I endured for the first
* Gail Hamilton, Life of Blaine, pages 184–85.