Laura M Starin.

A trip to Europe : being some account of the wanderings of a small family party online

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castle, Hawarden. He married these estates, they
told us, and has lived there for fifty years near his
castle on the old ruins of the former castle, built
in 1000 — very picturesque walls fifteen feet thick
in places, now ivy-covered. We ascended the
winding stairs to the summit, which overlooks a
great extent of country — eight counties — and is
connected, or was in feudal times, with Eaton Hall
by an underground passage five miles long.
Before entering these grounds we lunched at a
queer old house called *' Maria Jones' Inn."



In London Town.

From this place, after a most delightful time, we
went to our hotel, and prepared to take train for
London, only a few hours' ride. Left late in the
afternoon, arriving after dark in the great city, June
14th ; took rooms at the Continental Hotel — very
Frenchy, all attendants speaking English in a
broken way. In all English hotels women are em-
ployed as clerks, dressed usually in plain black
silk, and having much to do with the patrons of
the house.

Harriet and I, after breakfast, took a "hansom "
and drove to Mr. Spurgeon's church ; heard him
preach. This, our first experience, cost me a
twelve-dollar parasol, which I left in the hansom,
and overpaid the driver, he taking advantage of
the situation. Spurgeon preached from the text,
James v. and nth, a good, practical sermon,
dwelling on God being very pitiful. He worked
for results, not the means, in afflicting His children,
as in Job's case. Spurgeon's voice was clear and
strong ; could be distinctly heard through a large,


very plain church (will seat 7,000 people), filled
with an immense audience — two galleries, the
lower one with seven rows of seats ; back of the
pulpit nine rows ; second gallery five rows ; all
well filled, with seats in aisles ; congregational
singing. We crossed Westminster bridge, one of
London's fine bridges of stone across the river
Thames ; saw the Parliament buildings, near this
bridge, on bank of the Thames — immense struc-
tures of stone ; in fact, no wooden buildings are
seen in England, either large or small — all of brick
or stone.

Monday we visited Westminster Abbey for a
short time ; intend going again ; also took a drive
in Hyde Park, the fashionable drive ; saw great
numbers of fine equipages and very many eques-
trians ; the carriages or their occupants were not so
showy or stylish as in Central Park, New York,
but very substantial ; saw the Royal coach, a yel-
low-bodied, large carriage, drawn by four horses,
preceded by a horseman, loaded w-ith rich trap-
pings, blowing a horn ; all carriages drove to
either side to allow it a broad space in centre, and
stood still until it passed.

Next day visited the Cyrstal Palace, a wonder-
ful structure of glass, filled with statuary, growing
plants, ferns and palms ; booths innumerable for


the sale of small wares ; a band of music, playing
fountains, also picture-gallery on second floor,
stuffed animals in great variety ; about one hour's
ride by rail on Northern Railway from Victoria
Station, London, through the city and adjacent
villages, Brixton and all sorts of English names,
connecting with London ; fine parks on the way.
England is a delightful country. We are agreeably
surprised. The buildings in London are mostly
three stories high, but broad, built of stone in a
lasting manner. We drove to London Tower for a
tour of inspection, but found visitors were denied
admission since the late attempt to destroy the
Tower with dynamite. We found this out to our
regret. We visited the Zoological Gardens in
Regent's Park — a wonderful collection of birds,
beasts and reptiles, grounds well laid out with
plants and flowers, fountains and good walks ; also
took a short ride on Underground Railroad,
and visited Madame Tussaud's waxworks, one of
London's popular places of resort ; one room
devoted to relics of Napoleon — his carriage in
which he traveled, the bed on which he died,
rings and various articles of presents he made to
relatives and friends, cameo rings, watches, etc.

We left London, after a ten days' stay, at 3 P.
M., for Dover, going through a charming country


— a three hours' ride by rail — passing quaint
houses, windmills, fine meadows bordered with
hedges, some hilly scenery, all so varied, so fresh
and green, in this leafy month of June— just a
little hazy. We were charmed.

As we approached Dover the channel burst
upon our view ; wind blowing quite strong, waves
dashing. Harriet and I were quite disheartened,
as we intended crossing it, and feel discouraged
at the prospect of braving its dangers and going
to a far country on the Continent, where a strange
language is spoken. In the morning we walked
out to the end of a long stone pier, and saw a
steamer leave for Calais, France. Can hardly
realize that we are so near continental Europe.
This immensely long and strong pier, built of solid
masonry, was thirty years building. Steamers
from Ostend, Belgium, start from this pier — four
hours' ride across the channel — and from Calais,
France, land here. The shortest passage is 21
miles, consuming one and one-half hours. Have
visited Dover Castle and Tower, the former said
to have been built by the Normans, before Christ,
in their invasion of England ; built of lava,
brought as ballast, certainly very ancient, and a
strong fortress situated on a high hill, overlooking
the channel, still occupied by a garrison (the


Castle) ; plenty of red-coated soldiers on duty
now, 320 feet above the level of the sea. We are
stopping at the Lord Warden Hotel (very English),
near the pier and railroad ; a fine hotel. Fifty
thousand inhabitants in Dover.



On the Continent.

We crossed the English Channel, twenty-one
miles to Calais, an old French town of which
we saw but little save the queer old houses, the
peculiar dress of the women and children ; the
jabbering of French language, too, sounded odd,
having heard nothing but English spoken two
hours before. We took train for Paris. The cars
were luxuriously fitted up with light gray cloth
upholstery, with dark blue silk curtains, heavy
cords and tassels in fine taste. We enjoyed the
ride through pleasant country and small towns,
stopped at Amiens, where James bought a paper
of lunch and a bottle of claret, which we disposed
of at our leisure and enjoyed too. People ap-
proached the cars with long baskets, fitted up in
a tasty, tempting manner, with bread and fruits,
arranged with green leaves (grape leaves) and
bottles of wine, so unlike American venders.
There was an interpreter on the train, though we
had no occasion to employ him. The seats in all
cars in Europe are facing each other, divided in


compartments, windows and doors on the sides,
each compartment designed to hold eight. We
were alone. Our party so rode all day through
"La Belle France," reaching Paris about six in
the afternoon ; got through the Custom-house
quickly by feeing an officer to the small sum of 2
francs ; got in cab with all our bags and baggage
on top of same and inside, so with no further
trouble drove to the '^Continental Hotel," same
name as in London, though a much larger, finer
hotel, magnificiently furnished ; large dining-
rooms and reading-room, tables in same, with
paper pens and ink, all conveniences for writing ;
all the papers of the day of different countries
supplied. The hotel is built with an open court,
has a piazza or promenade all around ; carriages
all drive into this court, and all arrive or depart
from it. The promenade has a mosaic floor ; all
attendants speak both French and English ; the
hotel is " beautiful for situation," as well as in itself,
being opposite the garden of the Tuileries, the
garden being kept at public expense and thrown
open, with its beautiful avenues, statuary, foun-
tains, trees and flowers — a pleasure to be near and
behold, in a warm June day especially.

June 24TH. — Have driven and walked much and
crossed the river Seine, the city being built on


both sides of the river, connected by fine stone
bridges, long rows of trees on either side of
river, houses peering above the trees and back of
them. The boats used on the river are about the
size of our canal boats and used for excursions and

Have been to the '' Bon Marche," a store of
immense size, with merchandise in great variety
and at prices that tempt female tourists. A fine
drive of fifteen minutes from our hotel, in going,
passed the Louvre ; have not yet visited it, with its
vast art treasures ; also passed all that remains of
the Tuileries destroyed in 1871, and not rebuilt.
Have seen the Column Vendome that was
also destroyed, but rebuilt from same castings,
they having been found — designs all over it
commemorating battles. Took a drive in the
Bois de Boulogne at the fashionable hour ; saw
immense numbers of carriages and great style
in dress ; it is a beautiful park, with fine roads,
shaded walks and trees. It is four miles square,
and has seventy acres of lakes or artificial water.
The *' Champs Elysees " is at the entrance of the
avenue that leads to the " Bois." Its wide ave-
nue, seats and places of refreshment make it a gay
resort in the evening, and pleasant to walk or drive
in at any time. Have been to see the world-


renowned church of " Notre Dame," a magnificent
building, with its carvings, statuary and immense
stained-glass windows. The greater part of this
church is said to have been built in the thirteenth
century, but was renovated and restored since
1845 ; it escaped injury during the late war and
under the Commune ; also saw the exterior of the
church " Madeline," with its Corinthian columns
and carvings over front entrance.

June 25TH. — Visited the Louvre to-day, an im-
mense structure, a palace noted for its magnifi-
cence and its art treasures of paintings by the old
masters ; the original Murillo of the Madonna is
here, elegant Gobelin tapestries of the fourteenth
and fifteenth centuries, life-likenesses of kings in
Gobelin adorned the walls ; the ceilings of immense
height, frescoed with rare paintings, and case after
case of rare old china and crystal in odd designs,
very fine. The palace was begun in 1528 by Francis
L, and added to by succeeding kings, until
Louis XIV., and finished by Napoleon I. in 1803.
It is well known that Charles IX. occupied this
palace, Henry III. and Henry IV., and Louis XIII.
and Louis XV. during part of his minority. Since
that it has been devoted to its present purpose ;
gardens with flowers are kept in order all around
the palace ; the latter runs parallel with the river


Seine, overlooks the river from some of the second-
story balconies. I could form no estimate of the
length of this palace ; should judge it was at least
two squares or city blocks ; trees are all along
the river side ; in fact Paris is full of trees, streets
with double lines of them, and all along the banks
of the river. Have seen the Arc de Triomphe,
erected by Napoleon I. in 1806, to commemorate
his battles and victories ; it is built of gray marble,
with one central arch and two side arches, smaller
on top. In centre is a large piece of sculpture — a
female — representing Victory, in a triumphal car,
and four bronzed horses attached, a magnificent
work ; one sees it in going to the Bois de Bou-
logne ; it is surrounded by stone posts and chains
for protection. The Column Vendome I have also
seen, it being not far from the Hotel Continental,
where we are stopping, the hotel — almost a palace
itself, facing the garden of the Tuileries, with its
avenues, trees, fountains, flowers and statuary.
The street on which this hotel is situated is the
Rue de Rivoli ; it is on a corner ; the other street
is Rue de Castiglioni.

The Column Vendome stands in a large open
square, where many of the best residences are.
It is 135 feet high, is covered with bas-reliefs com-
memorating scenes from the past history of the


glory of France, was pulled down by the Com-
munists in 1 87 1, but as I have said, models being
found, was again rebuilt. The palace of the
Tuileries was also destroyed at this time, and has
not been rebuilt. The pavilions or entrances
thereto are still standing.

June 28th. — This day visited the Gobelin
tapestry manufactories sustained by government
— established in 1662 ; saw wonderful copies of
fine paintings in colors so fine and smooth, many
pieces taking years to execute — five years — many
colored worsteds on bobbins like weavers ; there
would be thirty shades of one color. Many of these
tapestries were as old as the fifteenth century, and
were dropping to pieces. None are sold to the public
— only for royalty. Also rode eight miles on the
river Seine in one of the small steamers that are
running constantly for passengers— passed under
at least a dozen fine bridges, mostly stone and
arched, with sculpture ornamenting them of
various designs — to visit the Sevres porcelain
works, pronounced " Sev." I bought a small
vase as a memento of our visit ; saw beautiful
vases at fabulous prices, from a thousand dollars
up, of all colors and designs ; was not so pleased
as with the exhibition of Gobelin tapestries,
though ; saw the clay, the models, and china in


different stages of manufacture, also the kilns or
ovens for burning or baking it ; returned to a late
dinner at our hotel, which was highly relished,
having been out since morning sight-seeing.



At Versailles.

June 29TH. — Took a carriage and had a
delightful drive to Versailles, about fourteen miles
distant from Paris, and nearly connected to it by-
suburban towns, picturesque too ; passed some
markets — it being morning — that were unlike
home in display of wares, flowers and vegetables ;
each kind and color of flower anywhere for sale in
Paris is in a bunch by itself, put up with plain white
paper, enhancing the color by contrast, and being
attractive ; long lines of trees of double rows —
sometimes five rows — all trimmed, much same
size, forming beautiful avenues for walking or
driving ; we drove along the river Seine for some
distance, on a high embankment, and a wall of
solid masonry on side next river ; could see the
boats plying.

The day was fine, neither too warm nor too cold,
and we enjoyed the drive immensely, arriving duly
at Versailles, formerly a large city of 100,000, now
a town of half that size. In the reign of Louis
XIV. and Louis XV., the royal family, court and


officers resided here. We first visited on our
entrance to the palace grounds what is called the
Great Trianon. This and the Little Trianon, or
petite as it is called in French, are both in the
great park, some distance from the palace, in com-
parison with which they seem insignificant. The
Great Trianon is exquisitely furnished ; was occu-
pied by Napoleon I and Josephine ; her sleeping-
room and bed are still the same, with canopy of
silken curtains and furniture, the chairs mostly
white wood. In some rooms the walls are up-
holstered in silk damask. Many of them have
been reproduced in imitation or duplicate of former
stuff. Napoleon seemed to prefer yellow for color-
ing, his rooms being furnished with a bright
canary yellow ; the clocks, vases, pictures, tables,
all very rich, writing desks, dressing tables and
cabinets inlaid and beautiful, the floors mostly
hard wood, marble mantels of various colors, with
wide fire-places and low andirons. The Palace is
but one story high ; a great number of rooms on
one floor. Did not visit the Little Trianon : said
to be no furniture there and little of interest ;
built by Louis XIV. for Marie Antionette. Saw
her rooms also in the great palace, a very small
mirror with angles in this room in which she saw
herself headless, so had a presentiment of coming


doom. I looked myself in this mirror and saw
the same effect. Not far from Great Trianon is
the building containing carriages — a great display
of historical sleighs and carriages of great interest.
Saw Josephine's carriage, the coronation carriage
and the one Empress Eugenie rode in, lined with
white satin and richly gilded and decorated, of
very large size, to be drawn by eight horses. Saw
sedan chairs used by Marie Antoinette and other
royal personages. After this we drove to Ver-
sailles, or out of the park, and lunched ; returning
visited the great palace built by Louis XIV., im-
proved and added to by his successors.

The Great Trianon was a favorite residence of
Louis XIV., Louis XV. and Louis XVI.,
also Napoleon I. ; the latter built a road from it
to St. Cloud, not far distant — St. Cloud, de-
stroyed during the siege of 187 1 and not rebuilt,
celebrated for its fine parks even now. The grand
palace was once a hunter's lodge ; in 1624 used
by Henry IV., and Louis XIII. In 1660 Louis
XIV., becoming tired of his other palaces, under-
took building this ; it was added to by succeeding
kings at great expense ; Louis Phillip restored it
last, converting it into a vast museum, rich and
splendid. It contains immense pictures of battle
scenes commemorating the history of France.
One hall or gallery is 327 feet long, filled with


marble busts; another room contains portraits of
seventy-one kings, down to Louis Phillip ; five
large rooms devoted to paintings of the Crusade,
the ceilings and walls are covered with armorial
emblems of French knights who fought in the
Holy Land. The palace is very large, built of
stone, with two immense wings ; we saw the room
and bed where Louis XIV. died ; the bed is on a
raised platform, this covered with red velvet, the
bedstead all gilt, with very high canopy curtains
of silk falling at sides, now discolored with age ;
bed covering of same over the pillows with Honi-
ton lace spread at foot of bed ; some pictures and
inlaid furniture on either side of bed, and a railing
of gilt with a gate separates this from the rest of
the room. This room was in centre of the palace ;
in second story a balcony in front of a large win-
dow, with a clock above, now running, but for-
merly only told the hour one king died and his
successor was announced. The death of the king
was proclaimed from this balcony ; it overlooks
the beautiful park, with its world renowned foun-
tains of immense size, that were playing the day
we visited this grand historical place ; the water
was brought a great distance to supply these
fountains. When the grounds were 'being made
the gardens and parks thirty thousand soldiers,
'tis said, worked upon them simultaneously ; even


now, 1885, the flower beds are in perfect order,
flowers abundant, statuary of every kind, beau-
tiful trees trimmed in various forms, and not a
depredation committed ; all open to the public
at certain hours ; a sight of all these fine his-
torical paintings granted free. One large painting
that interested me was the coronation of the
Empress Josephine by Napoleon in the Church
of Notre Dame, very beautiful in color and execu-
tion. I was never more forcibly reminded, in
viewing all this magnificence, that ''the glory of
this world passeth away." It seemed as if each
succeeding king or emperor tried to outdo his
predecessor in grandeur and use of money. One
wonders, in coming from democratic America,
where all the money came from ; but then we are
apt to forget that this country is centuries old and
has been enriched by preying on other countries.
Eastern countries of great wealth have been
despoiled to add to the glory and art treasures of
France. One immense hall in this large palace or
gallery, as it is called, is the " Grand Gallery of
Glass ; " the central building measuring 239 feet
long, 35 feet wide, 43 feet high, lighted by seven-
teen large arched windows, which correspond with
arches on opposite wall of Venetian mirrors, time
of Louis XIV. Mirrors were not then made of
present size, so these are in smaller divisions.


Sixty Corinthian pillars of red marble, with
base and capitals of gilt bronze, fill the intervals
between the windows. Each of the entrances
is adorned with columns of same order. The
arched ceiling was painted by Lebrun in nine
large and eighteen smaller compartments, repre-
senting principal events in the history of Louis
XIV. in allegory. A beautiful chapel is also
attached to this palace, with stained-glass windows
and much gilding, paintings, etc. The fountains
in the park of immense size need to be seen to be
appreciated. Long lines of shaded walks with
statuary that look ancient are in every direction.
A marvelous place, indeed ! I can picture with
my pen but a faint idea of it.

Rooms almost without number, filled with paint-
ings, that I have not mentioned.

We visited the Palace of Luxembourg this
afternoon. It has been in time palace, prison,
senate chamber ; it is now devoted to art, paint-
ings and sculpture ; fine flower gardens surround
it ; palace built in time of Henry I. and Henry II.
Also went to the Garden of Plants in old part of
Paris, used now as a place of resort and park by
the poorer classes ; fine old trees, but the garden
not attractive nowadays.



Switzerland the Magnificent.

July 2D. — To-day we left the beautiful city of
Paris after a ten or twelve days' visit, taking a train
for Geneva, Switzerland, a long ride of 391 miles by
rail, passed through many old French towns ; saw
peasant women working in fields and gardens same
as men, a hardy-looking race. As we approached
Geneva we saw high ranges of mountains (the
Alps) vine-clad ; every available spot had a patch
of grapes up the steep mountain sides, and small
low huts here and there occupied by the peasants
who cultivated and protected the growing grapes,
making a very picturesque scene, which evinced
great industry and frugality. We also rode
through many tunnels, I should judge at least a
dozen of various lengths, one of them taking the
train twenty-five minutes to pass through. It
seemed fearfully dark and dangerous ; as we ap-
proached Geneva the wildest scenery greeted our
eyes. A river emerged, a wild stream in a deep
ravine, which proved to be the river Rhone ; it
flows from Lake Geneva and divides that city into


two parts, which are connected by six bridges.
We arrived in Geneva at half-past nine o'clock in
the evening, and it was dark when we were driven to
our hotel — Hotel La Paix by name. It is beautifully
situated, we discovered ; when morning dawned
on Lake Geneva, with snow-caped Alps towering
in sight on opposite shore of the lake, I could
hardly believe my eyes. A beautiful scene —
steamboats arriving and departing just in sight of
our windows, the lake a calm sheet of water as our
Mohawk river, and not as wide here as I supposed.
One forms such different ideas of places and
things from what seeing or the reality discloses.
A beautiful park across the street from our hotel
contains a very high and elegant monument,
erected to the memory of the Duke of Brunswick,
who gave large sums of money to the City of
Geneva. It is an equestrian statue ; on the
very top a stone cap just large enough for the
horse and rider to stand on — a great work of art
to balance such an object on so small a space and
at such height.

We took a carriage and drove about the city
to the Botanical Garden and about the streets,
which were narrow in many places ; drove up
a hill where we had a view of the two rivers
flowing side by side, the Rhone and the Arve


— one of deep blue and clear, the other muddy,
coming down from the mountains.

Though a large city, we did not find Geneva so
interesting as many others we have visited. We
remained only two nights and a day, left early on
the morning of July 4th, sent a cablegram to my
husband in America, saying, " Glorious day, all
well," which I hope was duly received. We were
to take seats in diligence from Geneva to Cha-
mouni in the Alps, a ride of fifty miles, but could
not get desirable seats, not having engaged them
soon enough, having decided to leave a day sooner
than we at first intended ; so took a carriage, which

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Online LibraryLaura M StarinA trip to Europe : being some account of the wanderings of a small family party → online text (page 2 of 5)