On the 14th of July we left Bath for Salisbury. While passing Westbury, one of our fellow-passengers exclaimed, "Look out! Look out!" "What is it?" "The horse! the horse!" All our heads turned to the window, and all our eyes fastened on the figure of a white horse, upon a hillside some miles distant. This was not the white horse which Mr. Thomas Hughes has made famous, but one of much less archaic aspect and more questionable history. A little book which we bought tells us all we care to know about it. "It is formed by excoriating the turf over the steep slope of the northern escarpment of Salisbury Plain." It was "remodelled" in 1778, and "restored" in 1873 at a cost of between sixty and seventy pounds. It is said that a smaller and ruder horse stood here from time immemorial, and was made to commemorate a victory of Alfred over the Danes. However that may be, the horse we now see on the hillside is a very modern-looking and well-shaped animal, and is of the following dimensions: length, 170 feet; height from highest part of back, 128 feet; thickness of body, 55 feet; length of head, 50 feet; eye, 6 by 8 feet. It is a very pretty little object as we see it in the distance.
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.
One reminiscence of that afternoon claims precedence over all the rest. The reader must not forget that I have been a medical practitioner, and for thirty-five years a professor in a medical school. Among the guests whom I met in the grounds was a gentleman of the medical profession, whose name I had often heard, and whom I was very glad to see and talk with. This was Mr. Lawson Tait, F.R.C.S., M.D., of Birmingham. Mr., or more properly Dr., Tait has had the most extraordinary success in a class of cases long considered beyond the reach of surgery. If I refer to it as a scientific hari kari, not for the taking but for the saving of life, I shall come near enough to its description. This operation is said to have been first performed by an American surgeon in Danville, Kentucky, in the year 1809. So rash and dangerous did it seem to most of the profession that it was sometimes spoken of as if to attempt it were a crime. Gradually, however, by improved methods, and especially by the most assiduous care in nursing the patient after the operation, the mortality grew less and less, until it was recognized as a legitimate and indeed an invaluable addition to the resources of surgery. Mr. Lawson Tait has had, so far as I have been able to learn, the most wonderful series of successful cases on record: namely, one hundred and thirty-nine consecutive operations without a single death.
"Juvat nuper audivisse eum cujus carmen prope primum 'Folium ultimum' nominatum est, folia adhuc plura e scriniis suis esse prolaturum. Novimus quanta lepore descripserit colloquia illa antemeridiana, symposia illa sobria et severa, sed eadem festiva et faceta, in quibus totiens mutata persona, modo poeta, modo professor, modo princeps et arbiter, loquendi, inter convivas suos regnat."
People--the right kind of people--meet at a dinner-party as two ships meet and pass each other at sea. They exchange a few signals; ask each other's reckoning, where from, where bound; perhaps one supplies the other with a little food or a few dainties; then they part, to see each other no more. But one or both may remember the hour passed together all their days, just as I recollect our brief parley with the brig Economist, of Leith, from Sierra Leone, in mid ocean, in the spring of 1833.
I well remembered my visit to Stratford in 1834. The condition of the old house in which Shakespeare was born was very different from that in which we see it to-day. A series of photographs taken in different years shows its gradual transformation since the time when the old projecting angular sign-board told all who approached "The immortal Shakespeare was born in this House." How near the old house came to sharing the fortunes of Jumbo under the management of our enterprising countryman, Mr. Barnum, I am not sure; but that he would have "traded" for it, if the proprietors had been willing, I do not doubt, any more than I doubt that he would make an offer for the Tower of London, if that venerable structure were in the market. The house in which Shakespeare was born is the Santa Casa of England. What with my recollections and the photographs with which I was familiarly acquainted, it had nothing very new for me. Its outside had undergone great changes, but its bare interior was little altered.
Near the Temple church, in a green spot among the buildings, a plain stone laid flat on the turf bears these words: "Here lies Oliver Goldsmith." I believe doubt has been thrown upon the statement that Goldsmith was buried in that place, but, as some poet ought to have written,
Wilton, the seat of the Earl of Pembroke, within an easy drive's distance from Salisbury, was the first nobleman's residence I saw in my early visit. Not a great deal of what I then saw had survived in my memory. I recall the general effect of the stately mansion and its grounds. A picture or two of Vandyke's had not quite faded out of my recollection. I could not forget the armor of Anne de Montmorenci,--not another Maid of Orleans, but Constable of France,--said to have been taken in battle by an ancestor of the Herberts. It was one of the first things that made me feel I was in the Old World. Miles Standish's sword was as far back as New England collections of armor carried us at that day. The remarkable gallery of ancient sculptures impressed me at the time, but no one bust or statue survived as a distinct image. Even the beautiful Palladian bridge had not pictured itself on my mental tablet as it should have done, and I could not have taken my oath that I had seen it. But the pretty English maidens whom we met on the day of our visit to Wilton,--daughters or granddaughters of a famous inventor and engineer,--still lingered as vague and pleasing visions, so lovely had they seemed among the daisies and primroses. The primroses and daisies were as fresh in the spring of 1886 as they were in the spring of 1833, but I hardly dared to ask after the blooming maidens of that early period.下载
There was one place I determined to visit, and one man I meant to see, before returning. The place was a certain book-store or book-shop, and the person was its proprietor, Mr. Bernard Quaritch. I was getting very much pressed for time, and I allowed ten minutes only for my visit. I never had any dealings with Mr. Quaritch, but one of my near relatives had, and I had often received his catalogues, the scale of prices in which had given me an impression almost of sublimity. I found Mr. Bernard Quaritch at No. 15 Piccadilly, and introduced myself, not as one whose name he must know, but rather as a stranger, of whom he might have heard through my relative. The extensive literature of catalogues is probably little known to most of my readers. I do not pretend to claim a thorough acquaintance with it, but I know the luxury of reading good catalogues, and such are those of Mr. Quaritch. I should like to deal with him; for if he wants a handsome price for what he sells, he knows its value, and does not offer the refuse of old libraries, but, on the other hand, all that is most precious in them is pretty sure to pass through his hands, sooner or later.
Refreshments were served us, among which were some hot-house peaches, ethereally delicate as if they had grown in the Elysian Fields and been stolen from a banquet of angels. After this we went out on the lawn, where, at Lady William Compton's request, I recited one or two poems; the only time I did such a thing in England.
Invested with the academic gown and cap, I repaired in due form at the appointed hour to the Senate Chamber. Every seat was filled, and among the audience were youthful faces in large numbers, looking as if they were ready for any kind of outbreak of enthusiasm or hilarity.
All the usual provisions for comfort made by seagoing experts we had attended to. Impermeable rugs and fleecy shawls, head-gear to defy the rudest northeasters, sea-chairs of ample dimensions, which we took care to place in as sheltered situations as we could find,--all these were a matter of course. Everybody stays on deck as much as possible, and lies wrapped up and spread out at full length on his or her sea-chair, so that the deck looks as if it had a row of mummies on exhibition. Nothing is more comfortable, nothing, I should say, more indispensable, than a hot-water bag,--or rather, two hot-water bags; for they will burst sometimes, as I found out, and a passenger who has become intimate with one of these warm bosom friends feels its loss almost as if it were human.