Unmoved these mighty blocks remain
The most formidable thing about a London party is getting away from it. "C'est le dernier pas qui coute." A crowd of anxious persons in retreat is hanging about the windy door, and the breezy stairway, and the airy hall.
The soil of England does not seem to be worn out, to judge by the wonderful verdure and the luxuriance of vegetation. It contains a great museum of geological specimens, and a series of historical strata which are among the most instructive of human records. I do not pretend to much knowledge of geology. The most interesting geological objects in our New England that I can think of are the great boulders and the scratched and smoothed surface of the rocks; the fossil footprints in the valley of the Connecticut; the trilobites found at Quincy. But the readers of Hugh Miller remember what a variety of fossils he found in the stratified rocks of his little island, and the museums are full of just such objects. When it comes to underground historical relics, the poverty of New England as compared with the wealth of Old England is very striking. Stratum after stratum carries the explorer through the relics of successive invaders. After passing through the characteristic traces of different peoples, he comes upon a Roman pavement, and below this the weapons and ornaments of a tribe of ancient Britons. One cannot strike a spade into the earth, in Great Britain, without a fair chance of some surprise in the form of a Saxon coin, or a Celtic implement, or a Roman fibula. Nobody expects any such pleasing surprise in a New England field. One must be content with an Indian arrowhead or two, now and then a pestle and mortar, or a stone pipe. A top dressing of antiquity is all he can look for. The soil is not humanized enough to be interesting; whereas in England so much of it has been trodden by human feet, built on in the form of human habitations, nay, has been itself a part of preceding generations of human beings, that it is in a kind of dumb sympathy with those who tread its turf. Perhaps it is not literally true that
I have not generally given descriptions of the curious objects which I saw in the great houses and museums which I visited. There is, however, a work of art at Longford Castle so remarkable that I must speak of it. I was so much struck by the enormous amount of skilful ingenuity and exquisite workmanship bestowed upon it that I looked up its history, which I found in the "Beauties of England and Wales." This is what is there said of the wonderful steel chair: "It was made by Thomas Rukers at the city of Augsburgh, in the year 1575, and consists of more than 130 compartments, all occupied by groups of figures representing a succession of events in the annals of the Roman Empire, from the landing of ?neas to the reign of Rodolphus the Second." It looks as if a life had gone into the making of it, as a pair or two of eyes go to the working of the bridal veil of an empress.
The day after our simple reception was notable for three social events in which we had our part. The first was a lunch at the house of Mrs. Cyril Flower, one of the finest in London,--Surrey House, as it is called. Mr. Browning, who seems to go everywhere, and is one of the vital elements of London society, was there as a matter of course. Miss Cobbe, many of whose essays I have read with great satisfaction, though I cannot accept all her views, was a guest whom I was very glad to meet a second time.
Fifty years ago and more, when I was at Longford Castle with my two companions, who are no more with us, we found there a pleasant, motherly old housekeeper, or attendant of some kind, who gave us a draught of home-made ale and left a cheerful remembrance with us, as, I need hardly say, we did with her, in a materialized expression of our good-will. It always rubbed very hard on my feelings to offer money to any persons who had served me well, as if they were doing it for their own pleasure. It may have been the granddaughter of the kindly old matron of the year 1833 who showed us round, and possibly, if I had sunk a shaft of inquiry, I might have struck a well of sentiment. But