Laura M Starin.

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

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protect them from the summer's sun, many bear-
ing large baskets on their heads, using small round
pads or cushions as a means of saving their brains
from concussion, I suppose. All kinds of fruit
and vegetables were displayed in baskets on the
ground ; no tables or benches or any semblance
of comfort to be seen. Both buyers and sellers
seemed to be mostly women. We visited the
Church of St. Ursula, very old, built in twelfth
century, named after a noble woman ; said to
have set out from Britain on a pilgrimage, with
eleven thousand virgins as companions ; coming
down the Rhine she landed at Cologne. St.
Ursula had been a leader and a model of virtue
and religion. They all fell into the hands of bar-
barians ; rather than submit to ignominious dis-
honor, her companions followed her example of
courage and fortitude, preferring death to slavery
and dishonor. She encouraged them to the last
(so the story goes), calHng to mind the heavenly
reward they would receive hereafter. St. Ursula
was pierced by the arrows of the Huns, many
were killed by clubs and swords, all perished on
the battlefield. The day of their death, October
21, is still celebrated as an anniversary. The


church which stands over their tombs was former-
ly called the Church of the Holy Virgins ; the
foundation of the church was laid in the year lOOO ;
the bones of these virgins were gathered up and are
laid in every form in the walls of the church, said
to be eight feet wide ; I hardly know how deep
with bones. The skulls are ranged in rows higher
up, with glass before them, many with silver cov-
ering on them — a hideous idea. All this is shown
visitors for a fee ; a priest with long, black robes,
rather rusty too, cadaverous-looking himself, re-
counts this story. St. Ursula is sculptured in ala-
baster, lying on her tomb with a dove at her foot ;
a bone of her arm is shown in the treasury. In a
case is a thorn said to be from the Saviour's
crown ; other marvelous things are exhibited in
this golden treasury, kept locked, only opened by
an extra fee ; many relics, very old — a water-pot
said to be used at the wedding in Cana of Gallilee ;
an alabaster box looking very ancient, brought in
the fourteenth century to Cologne by a knight
from the Holy Land and presented to the city.



Through Belgium.

Brussels, July i/th. — We came from Co-
logne to this city this day on an express train that
ran at a fearful rate of speed, making few stops.
America is far in advance of Europe in conven-
iences and comfort in railroad traveling, as not a
drink of water can be obtained on the cars. The
water-closets are at stations mostly, and people
must be provided with pennies. Only now and
then a car with closet is to be found. Usually the
train stops often for only five minutes, and passen-
gers are all locked in the cars, the guard locking and
unlocking at stations. The seats are comfortable
but give me America, "the home of the brave and
the land of the free."

Our ride was through a flat, rich, agricultural
country. About two in the afternoon arrived in
Brussels, a fine depot, where baggage had to be
again examined, but owing to the experience of
our courier had no trouble. Our trunks were piled
on top of an hotel omnibus, heavy trunks too, and
we were driven to the Grand Hotel on one of the


principal streets. Have pleasant rooms facing
said street, where we witness all sorts of scenes.
Sunday all the stores are open, many more out
than on week days ; a sort of holiday ; little regard
for the Sabbath in continental Europe. We have
driven about the city, saw the Hotel de Ville, an
old building resembling a church with a tower, built
in the fifteenth century, used as a town hall. Saw
a wedding party enter while gazing at the building.
Some of the statues on outside had some of their
features worn off — noses flattened, for instance, by
the ravages of time. The building had been white
marble, but now nearly black with age. Not far
from this hall was the famous fountain called
'* Mdnnekin Piss," which might shock some people,
but ''evil to him who evil thinks." It is said to
commemorate the return of a nobleman's son who
was lost. When found was in this attitude, a small
boy making water ; the water still flows the same
as for hundreds of years. The oldest thing in
Brussels, it stands against a building in a sort of
a corner of a very narrow street of the fifteenth
century. Many of the streets in this city are so
narrow that only small carriages can pass. The
sidewalks are about two feet wide. There are some
broad streets in newer part of the town, and broad
squares with fine fountains ; an old cathedral it


boasts of also. We did not visit it, but drove to
the Palace of Justice, the law court, the pride of
Belgium, an immense structure of white marble that
consumed fifteen years in building. The French
language is spoken here and French money used.
To day Mr. Spraker went to Antwerp to see an
exhibition, a little more than an hour's ride by
rail ; returned same evening and proposed leaving
at eight P.M. for Bruges, so as to travel in the cool
of the day. We intended going next day, but con-
sented to the change of time, packed hastily,
donned traveling attire, dined and bade farewell
to Brussels, as we thought, expecting to reach our
destination about half-past ten same evening.
After riding some time the train stopped, and our
courier coolly informed us we were on the wrong
train, and must go back to Brussels and start over
again, taking another train for Ghent, which we
did after some scolding of courier for the mistake,
arriving about eleven o'clock P.M. We had not
designed stopping here, but found the episode
very novel and enjoyable. The streets on our
arrival were crowded with men and women and
children holding a festival or Kirmess, that had
lasted four days ; this was the fifth and last. The
main square in centre of the town was brilliantly
lighted with colored gas-jets in fancy forms ; num-


erous bands of music and people paraded the
streets, danced and drank beer without stint
indoors and out This lasted until five o'clock
in the morning. After breakfast we drove about to
see the queer old buildings of the fifteenth century,
an old church with belfry and chimes ; on top of
steeple was a golden dragon said to have been
brought from Church of St. Sophia, in Constanti-
nople, to Bruges ; afterward brought to Ghent,
twenty-five miles.

Later we went to Bruges, a quaint old town of
the fourteenth century, a great commercial city and
centre once. Its takes its name from the number
of its bridges across its canals. The latter are
narrow, resembling Venice, as the houses are
built down to the water's edge. Visited the
cathedral of the twelfth century ; saw the bronze
doors, hundred of years old, in a good state
of preservation ; other brass monuments in the
pavement ; also saw very old paintings, one of
the Last Supper, Our Saviour and His Apostles,
features perfect, as the coloring was also. It
closed with panels ; paintings inside and outside.
These panels said to have been done in the four-
teenth century. In the Hotel De Ville^ or City
Hall, saw a remarkably carved wooden man-
tel, executed in 1529, and recently restored; it


covers nearly one side of a large room. From
this place we went to Ostend, stopping at the
Grand Hotel on the bank of the channel, where
there is a splendid sea-wall and a remarkably fine
broad promenade, that is much frequented by all
classes from early morn till late at night. There
are many hotels so situated at this summer resort,
a ''Belgian Brighton." Bathing is indulged in in
a novel manner. Small houses for bathing are on
wheels, and are drawn by horses to the water, as
far in as the occupant desires; then drawn back
again, going down a few steps into the water.
Small boats are numerous and manned to render
any needed assistance. A fine casino, with cafe,
is not far from our hotel, with seats and tables,
music and brilliant lights at night. To add to the
attraction of this resort, King Leopold has a sum-
mer residence here, on an elevation overlooking
the channel. I saw him pass by, walking with
his daughter, this evening, unattended, his dress
without decoration. The Belgian flag, of black,
yellow and red, was flying from buildings all
about ; a delightfully cool summer resort. We
leave in the morning for Dover, crossing the tem-
pestuous English channel. To-night the waves
are dashing and lashing themselves fearfully— a
large body of water, indeed.



Again in Old England.

July 22D — We left Ostend for Dover this day,
a bright ideal summer day, crossing the channel
in four and a half hours. Many of the passengers
were very sick ; Harriet was a little sick, I none
at all, avoiding it by taking a stateroom and lying
down most of the time until we approached the
chalk cliffs of Dover. Took luncheon in restau-
rant at station, waiting an hour for steamer from
Calais. Then the cars whirled us at a rapid rate
to London, making no stop till that city was
reached. Glad were we to be again in an English
speaking country, where we could understand and
be understood. We took leave of our courier at
Ostend, who had accompanied us for a month, a
polite, convenient Frenchman, who said he should
be in Paris that evening.

We are again in London, stopping at the
**Langham" Hotel, a popular house for Ameri-
cans. We have been making final purchases of
remembrance for loved ones at home. How
gladly we shall hasten to them whenever the broad


Atlantic is crossed. Have been in London nearly
a week. Visited the Royal Academy, where there
was, indeed, a royal collection of oil paintings —
hundreds of them, and each one perfect — it would
be difficult to describe them. A few that impressed
me must be noticed. One was the marriage of
the Duke of Albany, with Queen Victoria a
central figure, with her children and grandchildren
about her, all life-like and in court dress. Another
was a picture of the salo7i of Madam Recamier, a
beautiful lady dressed in white, after the French
style of fifty years ago or more — little under-
clothing, displaying a graceful form. She
was half reclining on a sofa, with cushions for
support, the salon filled with notable men and
women of the time, among them Madam De
Stael, both literary and military celebrities,
life-like likenesses of them portrayed as if in
conversation. Numerous portraits were in the
various rooms, admirable, of beautiful women,
and faultless landscapes beside. A picture called
" Gordon's Last Messenger" was memorable. A
lone Turk on a dromedary, crossing a barren
desert, where the bones of camels and their
carcasses are scattered, made a desolate scene, but
finely painted. Harriet and I were charmed.
Later, visited St. Paul's Cathedral, something


after the style of Westminister Abbey. It con-
tains many monuments and carvings in memory of
England's illustrious dead, stained-glass windows,
a few oil paintings, so high in centre round the
dome could not see them distinctly. We drove in
a hansom a long way on the Strand to get there,
one of London's busiest streets. Immense omni-
buses, or ** trams," as they are called here, were
going back and forth, filled inside and out with
living freight. Often so blocked were we that we
would wait some time before we could proceed.
London has a population of 5,000,000. Its
suburbs extend a long way in every direction. We
shopped on Regent street and in Piccadilly (does
not that sound English enough ?) to our hearts'

Upon this, a second visit to London, again
visited Westminister, and must note down my
impression of it. Went alone, to try and get some
understanding of this wonderful structure, built six
centuries ago by Henry III. Rude has been the
treatment of it, yet the spires still point high to
Heaven in undiminished grace, lightness, grandeur
and strength. Washington Irving said, after his
visit, that he endeavored to form some arrange-
ment in his mind of the objects he had been con-
templating, but found they were already fallen into


indistinctness and confusion — ''names, inscriptions,
trophies, all become confounded in recollection,
though I had scarcely taken my foot off the

So, indeed, it is a wearisome multitude of ob-
jects. If such a mind had this experience, what
must it be to an ordinary one ; it was a comfort
to find another had the same impression as myself.
My second visit was even less satisfactory than the
first. It has been said if one went daily for a year
one could not see everything.

Addison says nothing else of the buried person
but that he was born one day and died upon
another, the whole history of his life being com-
prehended in those two circumstances that are
common to all mankind.

I copied some of the inscriptions as follows :

'' Earl of Godolphin, Lord High Treasurer of
Great Britain, 171 2. Monument erected by his
much obliged daughter-in-law."

Major Andre's monument erected by George
III. A fine monument.

One to Gen. Wolfe, who took Quebec.

Dean of Westminster, a square tomb, old gray
stone, bears date 1561.

Earl and Countess of Middlesex, 1645. Two
marble figures lying side by side full length, in the
dress of that date, full ruff.


Epitaph : " Truly loving as truly loved wife,


Poets' Corner, so called.

Poet Chaucer, 1400.

" O Rare Ben Jonson."

Many epitaphs in Latin.

Dryden, 1700. Longfellow's bust placed here
by his English admirers.

Thackeray's bust ; not so prominent as Long-
fellow's. No inscription, only his name.

Shakespeare has a large and fine monument.
Southey and Burns' busts. Samuel Johnson,
LL.D., cut in pavement. David Garrick and his
wife, names in pavement, raised brass letters,
time of birth and death. Charles Dickens, large
slab of gray marble in floor of Poets' Corner, in
gilt letters ; time of birth and death only.

The following epitaph was on the monument of
John Gay, written by Pope :

" Life is a jest and all things show it ;
I thought so once, now I know it."

Mrs. Scott Siddons' large monument, represents
her dressed as Lady Macbeth. On monument
of John and Charles Wesley was this : '* The best
of all is God with us. I look upon all the world
as my parish. God buries his workmen, but car-
ries on his work."



Before taking our final leave of London, Harriet
and I took a hansom and went to Hyde Park to
see the Albert Memorial, a beautiful monument
erected by the Queen and her people out of love
and esteem for the Prince Consort and the good
he had done to the public, so stated on the monu-
ment. I was glad I did not leave before seeing it.
On opposite side of the street is Albert Hall, an
enormous circular building devoted to music, exhi-
bitions of art, mechanism and all inventions.
Around the dome are figures representing all kinds
of industry with appropriate inscriptions. This
building was erected for science and art for all
nations. "Glory to God in the highest, peace on
earth and good will to men." The above words
are inscribed on this hall.



The Land of Burns and Scott.

July 28th. — We left London for Melrose at
half-past ten A. M. on a very fast train over the
midland route for Scotland; we rode through a
well cultivated country ; fine landscapes met our
gaze ; the country grew more hilly and barren as
we approached Scotland. We left the English
hedges, and in their place stone fences were the
rule for miles and miles. Saw sheep grazing on
hills so steep they could hardly keep their footing ;
after this rode into a better country as we draw
near Melrose. We found this a quaint old town,
much frequented by tourists who come to visit the
Abbey, and Abbotsford, the home of Sir Walter
Scott. We visited Melrose after a night's rest,
finding it a ruin of the thirteenth century. Has
been burnt and rebuilt, many parts of it. Last
used in 1 8 10. I gathered some wild flowers and
leaves and pressed them as mementos of the visit.
Melrose means rose bedecked. Took a carriage
from Melrose and had a delightful drive of three
miles to Abbotsford, the home of Sir Walter


Scott, now occupied by his great granddaughter ;
many of the rooms are thrown open to the pubHc
by paying a fee of a shiUing each. You are con-
ducted by a guide through the first-floor rooms —
library, which has a flight of winding stairs to be
able to reach books on high and leads to his
sleeping-room, study-parlor, armory ; the parlor
contained portraits of the family, also a case with
the clothing he last wore, even to shoes, cane, and
child's silver drinking cup, his hat also.

Sir Walter Scott was born in Edinburgh in
1771 ; died 1832. Abbotsford is beautifully situ-
ated on the banks of the river Tweed, the house a
little distance back ; fine flower gardens lie be-
tween the house and river, the house on a rise of
ground. Fine views are had from every window.
Large trees add to the grandeur. It was said by
Lord Lytton, '* It is a divine pleasure to admire."
We enjoyed our visit here very much, with
thousands of others who have visited this place. I
have some wild roses gathered from hedges on our
way here which I prize.

" The City of Edinburgh, out of admiration
and gratitude to Scott and his writings, which
brought the history and beauty of Scotland into
the prominence of these times," erected a
splendid monument to his memory on Princes


Street, Edinburgh ; it cost 15,650 pounds ster-
ling. The principal niches are filled with statues
of his heroes and heroines. It is composed of
white marble ; the outer arches resemble those of
Melrose Abbey, of which Sir Walter Scott was so
fond. His writings, it is admitted, gave more de-
light to a larger number of readers in every rank
of society than any other author, save Shakespeare

We arrived in Edinburgh July 29th, in the
afternoon — four hundred miles from London.
Scotchmen believe it the most picturesque city
in the world. We, as pilgrims and strangers,
agree with them in the verdict, with its hills
and crags, castle and weather-stained towers
and fortifications. The view from " Calton Hill "
was a delight. We enjoyed it at sunset overlook-
ing the Frith of Forth and the city below. It has
been said Edinburgh is a patrician among British
cities, a penniless lass with a *' long pedigree."
She counts great men against millionaires.

Its schools of art and universities rank high, and
the citizens pride themselves on these more than
manufactures or business fame. Holyrood Castle
is very interesting, and historical from having
been the residence of Mary Queen of Scots. Her
bedroom is shown as she left it, with high-posted


bedstead and the old tapestries, the coverings of
bed and draperies dropping to pieces with age.
Two hundred years is a long period of time. The
stone stair-steps are hollowed out with use and
age. Her secret stairway is shown, also Lord
Darnley's rooms and the spots of blood on stairs
caused by the assassination of Rizzio, an historical
event. Very old paintings on the wall. The
chapel attached, called the Royal Chapel, is in
ruins. A beautiful fountain in the court-yard ;
figures sculptured thereon would do credit to any

Holyrood is on low ground at one end of Edin-
burgh, the castle at the other. Queen Victoria has
troops now stationed at Holyrood, and a notice is
put up saying, that through her condescension, the
historical rooms of this castle are open to the
public. From Holyrood we drove through the
old part of Edinburgh, which is full of historical
interest — the tall peaked houses, six and seven
stories high, that have been occupied in ancient
times by lords and ladies, dukes and duchesses.
Robert Burns is of the number of notable ones
who lived here. Driving on we came to the Tal-
booth, made memorable by Sir Walter Scott's
novel **The Heart of Midlothian." Then we
came to John Knox's house, with its inscription,


extending in gilt letters over nearly the entire
front on first floor — a high house of several
stories and peaked roof: " Lufe-God-abufe-al-and-
ye-nychtbour-as-ye-self "

He lived here in 1559; a church near by is
called John Knox church. The wynds, so called,
are narrow streets leading off Canongate, which
was the main street in olden times. The past
accompanies you everywhere. This magnificent
city has been styled the modern Athens. The Frith
of Forth^ very like the ^gean Sea, or the distant
view similar. The population of Edinburgh is
227,451. The city owes its origin to the Castle
rock, a military stronghold, once occupied for a
brief period by the Romans. In 626 it was cap-
tured by the Saxons ; it was gradually increased in
size ; the fortress covers seven acres of ground,
250 feet above the surrounding valley.

St. Margaret's chapel is said to be the oldest and
smallest one in the kingdom, erected by Queen
Margaret in the tenth century. It stands within the
castle gates ; the castle is used as a garrison ; sol-
diers and ammunition plenty here ; the soldiers
wear red coats and green plaid trousers. The castle
adds greatly to the scenery of Edinburgh. We
drove on a road leading from the old town to the
new, the road winding around the base of Castle


hill ; it was in the early evening ; the castle was
lighted and looked grand, "beautiful for situa-
tion " could be said of it truly. Next day we
visited the castle. We were shown a small room
called Queen Mary's room, where she gave birth
to James the VI. Old kings dwelt in these parts.
We are delighted with Edinburgh, and all that
we have seen. The climate is cool even in mid-

To-day is my birthday, July 31, and thousands
of miles separate me from home. What changes
time brings ! Events occur that we never dreamed
of in early life. " Man proposes, God disposes."
We left " Edinboro town," as the song goes,
at midday ; took the train for a three hours' ride
through an uninteresting country, hilly, to Cal-
lander, an unimportant place ; passed through
Dumblane, near our stopping place. After a
hasty lunch mounted with a ladder a high wagon
or stage, without cover, that accommodated a
dozen passengers or more ; stage was drawn by
four horses. Starting, we rode over hills and
through vales, by the side of lochs or lakes (loch
is the Scotch name for lake) nine miles, making
one change, stopping at the " Trossachs," a hotel
by that name, arriving at " Inversnaid," a place
at the head of Lake Lomond. After leaving stage


we rode twelve miles on Lake or Loch Katrine.
Rob Roy was the name of the small steamer, this
being the neighborhood of Rob Roy's exploits.
We remained over night at Inversnaid, dining and
breakfasting here — a well kept hotel, beautiful and
romantic spot. An old-fashioned garden, filled
with vegetables and flowers, after the style of my
grandfather's garden when I was a child ; woods
and waterfall ; in background mountain and lake
scenery — Loch Lomond and Ben Lomond — the
former the lake, the other mountain of that name.
We rode twenty-five miles by steamer on this
lake in the morning, arriving at a small place at
end of the lake, where we took train for an hour's
ride to Glasgow, which city, after looking about,
taking a long walk, etc., we have decided against,
having seen more drunkenness and vagrancy than
in any city yet visited. We leave to-night after an
hour's ride, take steamer for Belfast, Ireland,
across the Irish sea or channel. We do this at
night, thus hoping to avoid sea-sickness and dis-




'*The Ould Sod."

We arrived in Belfast early Sunday morning,
August 2d, a dull, dark day. The city looked
solemn, with its gray, smoky stone buildings and
large linen warehouses. In the afternoon took a
carriage ride about the town for two hours ; went
to the outskirts. It is the second city in Ireland ;
saw caves in the mountains or the dark entrances
thereto ; the giant's ring where a battle had been
fought in ye olden time. We were little inter-
ested in this. Put up at the " Imperial Hotel."
In Belfast, were not made very comfortable.

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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 4 of 5)