William Stevenson.

Sights and scenes in Europe; or, Pencilings by the way, in England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Switzerland, Germany, and Belgium. During a shorttour in the summer and autumn of 1881 online

. (page 1 of 24)
Online LibraryWilliam StevensonSights and scenes in Europe; or, Pencilings by the way, in England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Switzerland, Germany, and Belgium. During a shorttour in the summer and autumn of 1881 → online text (page 1 of 24)
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_.,._ GIFT OF





















This volume is the outgrowth of a series of letters,
written to the Flint Citizen, from England, Scotland,
Ireland, France, Switzerland, Germany and Belgium-
While the matter has been arranged in more convenient
form, the order of events is strictly adhered to, and what
was written in the hurry of continuous travel and sight
seeing has been carefully revised.

It is claimed that books describing European travel
can possess neither novelty nor interest, so thoroughly has
the subject been exhausted. The interest manifested in
these letters, as first published, would indicate that the
claim is not well founded. A pampered literary taste may
reject plain description, and demand spicy caricatures,
dramatic incidents, or a narrative in which the places
visited are merely used as threads on which to string
witticisms. Ordinary readers, however, will continue to
derive satisfaction from familiar descriptions of European
countries and scenes, as told by a plain matter of fact
person, whose tastes and sympathies are more likely to

accord with theirs than the scintillations of the literary sen-
sationalist, or professional joker.

The author claims neither excellency of style, nor
originality of thought ; he freely admits his indebted-
ness to the guide books not having taken the census
of a single European city, or measured one of its ca-
thedrals and yet, from his standpoint, sees no occa-
sion to offer a single apology for the publication of
this book, or for the character of its contents.

Flint, Michigan, October, 1882. W. S.




Departure Life at Sea The Horizon Sunday A Hymn Sabbath Services
A Gale Not a Hymn Ocean Experiences The Ocean Its Teachings-
Neptune Amusements Story of the u Eastern Monarch " Capt. John-
sonScotch CoastFirth of Clyde" How is Garfield ?" Passing the Cus-
tomsAshore at Greenock 11



Glasgow Cathedral Necropolis University Public Buildings and Parks-
Streets Prices Rail to Ayr Burns 1 Cottage Kirk Alloway Tarn
O'Shanter Mungo's Well Bridge of Doon "Bonny Doon "Burns'
Monument Museum Highland Mary The Kirk-yard The " Twa Brigs "
Burns His Writings Whittier's Estimate 22



Edinburgh Scott's Monument The Castle Regalia of Scotland Mons Meg
Barracks St. Giles Jenny Geddes Parliament House Engine John
Knox's House The Cannongate Streets and Closes Holyrood Abbey
Holyrood Palace Gallery of Portraits Audience Chamber Queen's Bed-
room Supper Room The Grassmarket Greyfriars' Churchyard The
New Town Antiquarian Gallery Calton Hill The View Leith New -
haven Fishwives Scotch Women Business Habits ... ... 34



To Melrose The Abbey Scott's Stone -The Wizard's Grave Tombs Chapel
Sculptures The Monks Village of Melrose To Abbotsford House and
Grounds The Entrance Hall-Rooms Armory Library Study Muse-
um Suggested Memories . .52



Melrose to London A Station Dining-room London The Old City Modern
London- -The Albert Memorial The American Exchange Charing Cross
Trafalgar Square The National Gallery Whitehall Parliament House
Victoria Tower Hall, Chambers, Galleries,etc House of Lords House
of Commons Clock Tower Great Tom of Westminster Westminster
Hall St. Margaret's Church 62



Westminster Abbey Anticipations First Impressions History A City of
the Dead Poet's Corner Monuments and Memorials Henry VII's Chapel
Chapel of Edward the Confessor Coronation Chair Musings and Rec-
ollections Outside Surroundings 81



The Strand Somerset House Law Courts Temple Bar Fleet Street Tem-
ple Gardens Ludgate Hill St. Paul's Church Sa bath Services Monu-
ments Crypt Tombs of Wellington and Nelsoa Whispering Gallery
In the Ball Paternoster Kow Newgate St. Sulpice's London Stone
The Monument Billingsgate Tower of London St. Thomas' Tower
White Tower Chapel of St. John Horse Armory Crown Jewels
Tower Palace Prisoners of the Tower Beauchamp Tower Inscriptions
Chapel of St. Peter Ancient Scaffold An ne Boleyn, Lady Jane Grey,
etc. By the Traitor's Gate 96



A Channel Steamer Dieppe -Normancty Arrival in Paris An Election-
Place de la Concorde Dinner A Traveler's French Sunday Night in
Paris The New Opera^Tlouse Grand Foyer The Madelaine Hotel des
Invalides Arc de Triumphe Buttes Chaumont Pere la Chaise Cathed-
ral of Notre Dame The Pantheon Parisian Churches The Music In the
Streets An American Girl 123



Champs Elysees-Bois de Boulogne Palace of St. Cloud-Versailles-Grand
Trianon- State Carriages Dejeuner The Grand Palace Grand Apart-

ments Paintings Theater and Church Sevres and its Museum Hotel
de Ville Halles Centrales The Tuileries Place du Carrousel The Lux-
embourgThe Louvre Galleries Egyptian Department- Museum of
Curiosities Place de la Bastille- Porte St. Martin Column Vendome -
Gobelins Jottings Taxation Future of Paris 149



Paris to Berne Berne The Cathedral Terrace Alpine View Organ Concert
The Streets Swiss People The Bears of Berne Lake Thun Interlaken
The Jungfrau Swiss Houses Religious Service Sunday Afternoon-
Lake Brienz Brunig Pass Lake Lucerne Lucerne A Fine Organ The
Lion of Lucerne Vitznau Rigi Railroad View from the Summit Wil-
liam Tell Protestant and Catholic The Common Pasturage 178



Lucerne to Strasburg Strasburg The CathedralThe Famous Clock A
Legend St. Thomas' Church Streets and Fortifications Mayence The
Cathedral Market and Streets The Rhine Cities, Villages, Castles, and
Scenery Cologne -The Cathedral Shrine of the Three Kings St, Ursula
Bones and Relics Brussels Hotel de Ville Statues and Streets Water-
looAntwerp The Cathedral Rubens 1 Famous Picture Antwerp to
London 193



An English Sabbath Spurgeons' Tabernacle The Great Preacher Tower
Hill Royal Exchange Bank of England Mansion House Guildhall-
Bow Church Snaithtield Hyde Park Parks and Gardens St. James'
Palace Buckingham Palace Apsley House Underground Railroad-
Cabs Omnibuses St . Giles' Houndsditch 222



Methodist Ecumenical Conference City Road Chapel Opening Services-
Bishop Simpson's Sermon Methodism in England Relics Bunhill Fields
Windsor Castle St. George's Hall St. George's Church Memorial
Chapel Round Tower South Kensington Museum Courts and Galleries
Museum of Patents The Crystal Palace Interior English Courts Old
Jewry Tourists Books of Travel 243



The British Museum Library Books and Manuscripts Coins Ornaments
and Gems Egyptian and Assyrian Remains Rosetta Stone Elgin Mar-
bles, etc. Madame Tussaud's The Thames Greenwich Victoria Em-
bankmentThe Obelisk Temperance Taxes, etc. Liverpool Docks-
Public Buildings Streets 263



Ireland The Jaunting Car Belfast Dromore Anticipations and Disappoint-
mentThe Old Cathedral Grave by the Laggan Statistics An Excursion
Downpatrick Newcastle Rostrevor Newry Drogheda The River
Boyne Dublin Its People Public Buildings The C astle Churches
Glasnevin Kingston Athlone, etc. Condition of the Country Tenant
Farmers Land League The Irish People Notes by the Way. etc 290




Departure Life at Sea The Horizon Sunday A Hymn Sabbath Services
A Gale Not a Hymn Ocean Experiences The Ocean Its Teachings-
Neptune Amusements Story of the " Eastern Monarch " Capt. John-
sonScotch Coast -Firth of Clyde" How is Garfieldr' Passing the Cus-
tomsAshore at Greenock.

" If not on board at 7 o'clock to-morrow morning you will
get left," said the New York agent of the State Line Steam-
ship Florida, as I purchased my ticket at the office on Broad-
way. I was careful to be on board an hour before that
time, and as the bells of the city rang out the hour of seven
the huge vessel quietly moved from the dock, the immense
screw beginning its revolutions, to continue I hope till we
reach the city of Glasgow. That the great ship with its
valuable cargo and stores, and still more precious living
freight, should start on its three thousand mile trip with the
promptness of an express train surprised me. The leave
takings were hardly observable, but few of the passengers
residing in New York or its vicinity, and our departure was
business-like, with but little suggestive of tears or romance.
The magnitude and possibilities of my undertaking, how-
ever, impressed me seriously as soon as I discovered the
ship to be in motion, and I felt myself a wanderer on the
face of the earth, or rather, of the great deep. The man
who can lightly assume the risk of a trip to Europe I do not


envy, nor should I be surprised if his family were equally
indifferent to his return.

Our sail out of New York Bay to Sandy Hook was like a
river excursion, even the swell of the broad Atlantic was
not unpleasant, and the passengers as they became ac-
quainted exchanged congratulations on the prospect of a
pleasant voyage. Ship life at its best, and with a calm sea,
is wonderfully restful nothing to do, and a total indisposi-
tion to doing anything. To kill time various games are re-
sorted to on deck, but the voyager finds it difficult to inter-
est himself and prefers lolling in an easy chair, gazing list-
les*sly at the water, to be aroused occasionally by a school of
porpoises or a passing ship.

We read of the "boundless ocean," and imagine a vast
expanse of water reaching as far as the eye can see, and yet
our ideas as to how r much water is in sight may be very far
from correct. Owing to the convexity of the earth's surface,
the distance to the horizon is governed by the elevation of
the observer. From the upper deck of an ocean steamer,
with the eye twenty-five feet above the water, the distance is
six miles, and the ship is apparently sailing day after day in
the center of a small lake twelve miles in diameter, and this
is all of the "boundless ocean" that can possibly be seen
unless we climb higher. Wer^e the eye six feet above the
water the horizon would be three miles distant, and if thirty-
two inches above the water the distance would be two

There are twenty-two first-cabin passengers, among them
an Irish lord, an Episcopal rector from New York, the
president of a Methodist college and the chaplain of a New
England reform school. The ladies are agreeable and in-
telligent, and seme of them quite proficient in music. There
is a convenient music room with piano, and when the sea is
favorable we are entertained with sweet sounds. On Satur-


day evening it seemed most natural to attend choir meeting,
and although an extra roll of the ship would occasionally
unseat the pianist, I considered the meeting a success.
The Sabbath opened most auspiciously, the weather was all
that could be desired, and it was pleasant to observe that
the passengers of all grades, as well as the ship's crew, had
put on their best attire in honor of the day. During the
morning hours I sat on deck watching the busy waves, their
white crests dancing in the bright sunlight, and wrote in my
note book a


Eternal Father, Sovereign Lord ,

Whose glory fills the skies,
To Thee, from all that dwell below.

Let highest praise arise.
Thy hand the moving waters spread,

The winds obey Thy will,
And ocean's troubled, heaving breast

Thy mighty arm can still.
To Thee, we trust our feeble breath,

Our ways are in Thy hand,
Thy watchful care will safely keep-
Secure on sea as land.
Eternal Father, Sovereign Lord,

Accept the praise we bring,
And when we stand on crystal sea

A nobler song we'll sing.

At ii o'clock we had Episcopal service in the cabin, to
which all the passengers were summoned by the ringing of
the ship's bell. Our rector from New York, a clerical look-
ing man, appeared in "surplice and band" and read the
beautiful Episcopal service from the English prayer book,
furnished in quantities by the captain, careful however to
Americanize it where it appeared to him necessary, and to
interject a fervent prayer for the recovery of President Gar-
field. The sermon was appropriate, the choir did remarka-
bly well, and the ocean conducted itself admirably. I call
the rector's sermon appropriate because it had no reference


to "the dangers by which we are surrounded." That con-
gregation, far from home and friends, did not need to be
told that there is but an iron plate between them and death,
or that in case of fire most of them would perish, or that in
crossing the Banks next day in a fog we might strike an ice-
berg and all go to the bottom. A narrow minded man
might have considered it a glorious opportunity to deal out
the "terrors of the Lord," and a very small man might have
succeeded in frightening the timid ones almost out of their
wits, but our genial rector did no such thing, and therefore
I think his sermon was singularly appropriate to the occasion.
In the afternoon we had Methodist service on deck, and in
the evening an interesting praise meeting in the music room.
On Monday the wind had increased to a gale, and the
large ship was tossed on the ocean as if a row boat, the
waves dashing over the sides and keeping the decks con-
stantly wet. Most of the passengers became sea sick.
Very early in the storm I began to feel serious, and like a
boy in trouble, I wanted to "go home." That being im-
possible I determined to reside permanently in Europe, if I
lived to- reach the other side, and in a short time did n't care
a cent where I went or stayed. During semi-lucid intervals
I took to scribbling rhyme. Should it seem to follow too
closely some other lunatic's attempt in the same direction,
I can only like Dr. Lorimer plead "saturation," as
there was no conscious plagiarism in inditing the following,
which is


O, the sea, the silver sea !
Smiling like a winsome maiden.
Bearing hopes with joys o'erladen;
O, the sea!

O. the sea. the noble sea!
Now its liquid waves are swelling,
Of its mighty conquests telling;
O, the sea!


O, the sea, the merry sea!
Fun to see a fellow walking;
Well, Ican^t - there's no use talking;
O, the sea!

O, the sea, the awful sea!
Sudden pains my stomach retching,
As I pass, the hand rail catching;
O, the sea!

O, the sea, the horrid sea!
Worse than wine this cursed mocker
Dinner gone to Jones' locker;
O, the sea!

O, the sea, the cruel sea!
If on thee again a rover,
Hope some one will throw me over;
O, the sea!

The stars are intended to indicate an intermission of five
minutes, or less, to attend to an act of charity, popularly
and humorously called at sea "feeding the fishes."

Ocean experiences have been often related, and some may
think they have so far lost their interest by repetition that
they should be omitted altogether. But the great American
dailies, that reflect so truly the popular taste, do not reason
in this way. They spare no expense to collect for their
Saturday editions, by special reporters and by telegraph, the
hangings of the previous day throughout the length and
breadth of the great republic and there is more sameness
in hangings than in ocean voyages. The hero of the occa-
sion always rests well the night before, and no matter how
many or aggravated his crimes, graciously forgives every-
body, invariably closing his pious valedictory with a
general and cordial invitation to the lookers-on to meet him
in the happy hunting grounds. Now in an ocean voyage the
experiences, and the degrees of misery, are various. Some-
times the vessel pitches and sometimes it rolls, the most
agreeable form of either being that which is absent. You


seldom strike the deck twice at the same angle, and it is
now the soup and now the coffee you receive in your bosom
at the table. While sea sickness may, in most cases, present
the same general features, there is a wonderful variety in
the remedies employed. Among those recommended to me
I may mention eating heartily and fasting, cathartics and
emetics, homeopathic appo-morphia and allopathic blue-pill,
sitting on deck and remaining in my berth, brandy and gruel,
beef tea and salt pork, painting myself with collodion and
wearing a liver pad !

The gymnastics practised on deck are surprising, but
those performed in the state room are on the whole more
difficult, and introduce, as the circus bills say, "novel and
startling effects." Making your morning ablution holding
on with one hand, and marking with your feet the segment
of a circle around the corner where the wash basin is an-
chored, with all the variations which your cramped position
imposes, is a severe test of piety. The effort to undress and
stow yourself away on the rocking and pitching shelf where
your nights are spent is a serious and sometimes difficult
matter. The state room door and berth act as "buffers,"
between which you are tossed back and forth like a shuttle-

But there is one cause of discomfort that never ceases.
That immense auger, the screw, began at New York to
bore a hole to Glasgow, 3,000 miles distant. It revolves
about fifty times a minute, and with a monotonous and ex-
asperating regularity, giving a peculiar and disagreeable
throb or pulsation to the whole ship. At night especially,
with nothing to distract the attention, it is to the nervous a
cause of great irritation. One of the dreariest of sounds is
the wash of the sea against the ship's sides, as heard from
the berths, with nothing but the iron plates between.
Even the storm that sends the waves with powerful strokes


as with a mighty hammer to break in the ship's sides, is a
welcome relief from the monotonous swash of the ordinary

There is nothing joyous or assuring in the ocean, how-
ever we may admire its ever changing forms and hues. It
is the emblem of remorseless power, not of mercy or favor.
The study of nature on land may leave impressions of the
Divine goodness, but on the ocean, never. "Cruel as the
grave " would be more forcible if rendered " cruel as the sea."
The grave but furnishes a cherished resting place for the
remains of our loved ones. The sea receives their living
forms in its chill embrace to engulph them forever. " Mother
earth " seems the natural home for the remains of her sons,
but what so dreary and repulsive as a burial at sea ? Its
winds recall not nodding branches or rustling leaves ; they
bear no fragrance of woods and flowers. Theirs to sound
the requiem of departed hopes, or

u Mock the cry
Of some strong swimmer in Ms agony "

However it may be with sailors, there is with the ordinary
landsman an ever present sense of danger. He looks down
through a grating on deck thirty or forty feet and discovers
that the bottom of the ship is a mass of fire, confined in fur-
naces it is true, but still fire ; and grimy and sweating men
ascending from the fiery region to cool themselves remind
him of possible danger from that element. The boats swung
so as to be lowered in the least possible time suggest danger
by water. Indeed, every precautionary arrangement, and
they are numerous, as well as every special care on the part
of officers and crew speak of possible peril. Poets may in-
vest the sea with all sorts of foolish romance, to the great
deception of landsmen, but the only real comfort of an
ocean voyage is its successful termination. The man who
wrote of "a home on the rolling deep" must, if not an ar-


rant hypocrite, have been brought up in a poor house or
under the eagle eye of a step mother with more bantlings of
her own than she could care for. "Home" and the "roll-
ing deep " are the antipodes of each other.

Neptune I am afraid must look with contempt on the
mortals that cross his domain ; the tottering step, woe-be-
gone look, and forebodings of danger that affect the greater
number must give him a poor opinion of human nature.
And then, if he keeps a stenographer if all the solemn vows
made at sea are recorded ! Good heavens what a possibility !
As a party interested, and on behalf of all that " go down to
the sea in ships," I protest against the jurisdiction, and
competency of the record on shore. I am afraid the
Irishman who promised the Virgin to devote a large sum to
charitable uses if safely landed, and when reminded by a
companion of his promise replied, "An' faith the Vargin
Mairy '11 nivir ketch me at say agin," is but a type of the

On shipboard many expedients are resorted to, to inter-
est and amuse. During the fine weather, games of " shovel-
board "and "ring toss" were played on deck. Since that
time, music, recitations, riddles and story-telling have re-
lieved somewhat the dreariness of the cabin. A story told
by a lady from Chatham, Ontario, interested me very much.

"In 1858 the Eastern Monarch left England for Austra-
lia, with two hundred and fifty emigrant passengers, of all
ages. At sea the vessel was discovered to be on fire, and
on an ocean where for the preceding ten days not a vessel*
had been seen. A panic ensued, the sailors making for the
boats, with the intention of deserting the ship and leaving
the emigrants to their fate. The captain coolly presented
his pistols, with the emphatic declaration that the first man
who attempted to lower a boat would be a dead man on
the spot, and that his orders must be implicitly obeyed.



Order was restored, the hatches battened down to confine
the fire, and everything possible done for its extinguishment,
but to no purpose. It was the third day since the fire had
been discovered and the flames were bursting from their
confinement. A sailor on the look-out reported no sail in
sight. In this, their great extremity, an old woman of
seventy years exclaimed, "I see a ship !" and sure enough a
distant vessel greeted their eyes, and proved to be the ship
Merchantman from England for India with troops. She
came to their aid, and every passenger was removed in safety
from the ship, which was now in flames. After this it was
thirteen days before the Merchantman sighted another

The lady who told us the story was especially interested
in it from the fact that her son was at the time second offi-
cer on board the Merchantman. After we had in turn
commended the noble conduct of the captain who stood so
bravely by his emigrant passengers, one of the stewards,
who had listened to the story, quietly remarked, " That man
is Captain Johnson of our ship." This proved to be true ;
our social kind hearted captain was the hero of the Eastern
Monarch. Queen Victoria gave him a gold watch, and the
Royal Humane society a gold medal. Frank Leslie pub-
lished his portrait, but as he was at that time a young man
and his picture in the illustrated weekly represented him
as a gray-beard, he rather holds a grudge against the pub-

For six days we had clouds and fog, and during all that
time our captain was unable to catch a glimpse of the sun.
Running by what is called "dead reckoning" is not con-
sidered one of the exact sciences, and it was a great relief
when we sighted the lighthouse on Tory Island, on the
north-west coast of Ireland. Passing between the Irish
Island of Rathlin and a Scotch promontory known as the


Mull of Cantire, we entered the Firth of Clyde. Finer
scenery is seldom found than betwen the Island of Arran
and Greenock, and as we passed up the Firth the morning
sun shone brightly on the hills, mountains, rocks, bays, in-
lets, towns and villas on each side. Among the towns may
be mentioned Ardrossan, Millport, Dunoon, Greenock, Roth-
say and Kilcraggan. The Islands of Arran, Bute, Cumbrae,
and others of less note were passed. I was much amused
by a story, told by an old Scotch gentleman, of the pastor- of
the church at Cumbrae, who was accustomed to pray for
his little parish as follows : "God bless little Cumbrae, big
Cumbrae, Bute and the adjacent Islands of Great Britain and

Online LibraryWilliam StevensonSights and scenes in Europe; or, Pencilings by the way, in England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Switzerland, Germany, and Belgium. During a shorttour in the summer and autumn of 1881 → online text (page 1 of 24)