Who is there of English descent among us that does not feel with Cowper,
Nothing could be more restful than our week at Salisbury. There was enough in the old town besides the cathedral to interest us,--old buildings, a museum, full of curious objects, and the old town itself. When I was there the first time, I remember that we picked up a guide-book in which we found a verse that has remained in my memory ever since. It is an epitaph on a native of Salisbury who died in Venice.
*** ***! moi, j'aime les Anglais;"
And topples down the crumbling wall,--
Where stood the many stand the few."
"When first the college rolls receive his name,
So much of George Herbert's intellectual and moral character repeat themselves in Emerson that if I believed in metempsychosis I should think that the English saint had reappeared in the American philosopher. Their features have a certain resemblance, but the type, though an exceptional and fine one, is not so very rare. I found a portrait in the National Gallery which was a good specimen of it; the bust of a near friend of his, more intimate with him than almost any other person, is often taken for that of Emerson. I see something of it in the portrait of Sir Philip Sidney, and I doubt not that traces of a similar mental resemblance ran through the whole group, with individual characteristics which were in some respects quite different. I will take a single verse of Herbert's from Emerson's "Nature,"--one of the five which he quotes:--
After this Sir James Paget called, and took me to a small and early dinner-party; and A---- went with my secretary, the young lady of whom I have spoken, to see "Human Nature," at Drury Lane Theatre.
I had no sooner got through listening to the speech and receiving my formal sentence as Doctor of Letters than the young voices broke out in fresh clamor. There were cries of "A speech! a speech!" mingled with the title of a favorite poem by John Howard Payne, having a certain amount of coincidence with the sound of my name. The play upon the word was not absolutely a novelty to my ear, but it was good-natured, and I smiled again, and perhaps made a faint inclination, as much as to say, "I hear you, young gentlemen, but I do not forget that I am standing on my dignity, especially now since a new degree has added a moral cubit to my stature." Still the cries went on, and at last I saw nothing else to do than to edge back among the silk gowns, and so lose myself and be lost to the clamorous crowd in the mass of dignitaries. It was not indifference to the warmth of my welcome, but a feeling that I had no claim to address the audience because some of its younger members were too demonstrative. I have not forgotten my very cordial reception, which made me feel almost as much at home in the old Cambridge as in the new, where I was born and took my degrees, academic, professional, and honorary.
We drove out to Eaton Hall, the seat of the Duke of Westminster, the many-millioned lord of a good part of London. It is a palace, high-roofed, marble-columned, vast, magnificent, everything but homelike, and perhaps homelike to persons born and bred in such edifices. A painter like Paul Veronese finds a palace like this not too grand for his banqueting scenes. But to those who live, as most of us do, in houses of moderate dimensions, snug, comfortable, which the owner's presence fills sufficiently, leaving room for a few visitors, a vast marble palace is disheartening and uninviting. I never get into a very large and lofty saloon without feeling as if I were a weak solution of myself,--my personality almost drowned out in the flood of space about me. The wigwam is more homelike than the cavern. Our wooden houses are a better kind of wigwam; the marble palaces are artificial caverns, vast, resonant, chilling, good to visit, not desirable to live in, for most of us. One's individuality should betray itself in all that surrounds him; he should secrete his shell, like a mollusk; if he can sprinkle a few pearls through it, so much the better. It is best, perhaps, that one should avoid being a duke and living in a palace,--that is, if he has his choice in the robing chamber where souls are fitted with their earthly garments.
I cannot do justice to the hospitalities which were bestowed upon us in Cambridge. Professor and Mrs. Macalister, aided by Dr. Donald Macalister, did all that thoughtful hosts could do to make us feel at home. In the afternoon the ladies took tea at Mr. Oscar Browning's. In the evening we went to a large dinner at the invitation of the Vice-Chancellor. Many little points which I should not have thought of are mentioned in A----'s diary. I take the following extract from it, toning down its vivacity more nearly to my own standard:--