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VISIT TO EUROPE 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 100 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
* Gail Hamilton, Life of Blaine, page 184.
brought John Stuart Mill, and then Lord Amberley and many other of the Liberal members.
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
1 Gail Hamilton, Life of Blaine, pages 184-85.
ten days, will be the pencillings which I hope to send to my beloved wife and yourself.
The sight of Blarney Castle, the cathedrals of Dublin and of scores of ancient buildings on the ride across Ireland
gave him a sharp sense of antiquity:
Our own country is so new that we look on the works and monuments of past ages with awe and wonder not unmixed with a suspicion that there may be some mistake in the dates when we are told that this was founded in the fifteenth, the eleventh, or even the fifth century, but “there is no doubt we have examined many veritable examples" of the works of man so preserved. Still
, even with this well-attested, their present emaciated, blackened, crumbling, and tottering appearance serves to sadden us and to show that great truth, "If in this life only we have hope, then of all men we are most miserable.” The genius and labor of the weightiest of men at last turns to dust. God alone is eternal.
From London he sent his wife a chronicle of his progress from Chester to London:
Last Tuesday night, after a ride through the famous Black (or iron) District, we arrived in Birmingham, a place only noted for its immense manufactures and for its steady support of Liberal members of Parliament. Here, in the large old Town Hall, Mr. Bright is wont to hold forth, and of course that so far consecrated the place that we did not fail to take off our hats when we looked in upon it. All the churches and cathedrals, by the way, which have been consecrated, Episcopal as well as Catholic, must be entered only with uncovered heads, and if one happens to become oblivious of this rule, as you know it might happen even to me, he is sure to be reminded of it by the attendant. All these places are readily shown in England, and in all a fee is demanded or expected - generally an English shilling....
In crossing roads never as with us do they go on the same level - one or the other goes over free and clear, and in one place I noticed there was a railroad went under the one we were upon and another over it — very near the same place. The speed of the railroads exceeds that of American roads, being from about thirty
miles per hour, as the average or usual rate, up to forty and over on the great express trains, and these latter are said to meet with fewest accidents. But it is a fearful rate to ride. ... We rode in a carriage to Kenilworth. ... The Macadamized roads of England as well as of Ireland make a ride everywhere enjoyable, and when one sees the beauty of the road with a footpath by the side raised three or four inches - an exclusive sidewalk for pedestrians finished as part of the road, I no longer wonder at the long walks English men and women are accustomed to make. Labor is no more than it would be on the best city sidewalk and skirting a beautiful hedge is certainly not less attractive.
The old ruins of Kenilworth overgrown with ivy (and trees in some places), with enough left to mark their grandeur and magnitude, are among the most noted landmarks of English history, ... The birds were building nests and flying about from place to place as though it had all been intended for them. There was a marble fireplace, and the old oaken ceiling and floor of one room which had been taken out of the old castle and preserved in the newer part or the part built for a lodge at a later period, and where now a family apparently lived to take charge of the premises. The old wall and moat was still visible. The whole view or any part would make up such views as the schools love to paint.
From here we returned - passing Grey's Cliff — where stands a famous avenue of evergreen trees, so much admired by H. Beecher Stowe when she was here - to Warwick and then rode eight or nine miles to Stratford-on-Avon, where they not only showed us the house and the very room where Will Shakespeare was born, but many casts, pictures, and relics, including a huge ring, of the great poet. The broad old fireplace looked much like the grandfather of some of the earlier chimney places even in Strafford, with the places up under the mantel to hang and smoke Bacon. Here was where he (Shakespeare) lived with Anne Hathaway, a stout young fellow, but he never showed any great love for her, it appears, after a very short time. It is something to see the little old cottage and its yard or flower garden in the rear....
Staying at Oxford we used up the next forenoon in going over and around all the colleges of the University - twenty of them, I believe, and all striving for the mastery - each one claiming its