Our host, Mr. Flower, is more deeply interested, perhaps, than any other individual in the "Shakespeare Memorial" buildings which have been erected on the banks of the Avon, a short distance above the Church of the Holy Trinity. Under Mr. Flower's guidance we got into one of his boats, and were rowed up the stream to the Memorial edifice. There is a theatre, in a round tower which has borrowed some traits from the octagon "Globe" theatre of Shakespeare's day; a Shakespeare library and portrait gallery are forming; and in due time these buildings, of stately dimensions and built solidly of brick, will constitute a Shakespearean centre which will attract to itself many mementoes now scattered about in various parts of the country.
In the afternoon we went to a garden-party given by the Princess Louise at Kensington Palace, a gloomy-looking edifice, which might be taken for a hospital or a poorhouse. Of all the festive occasions which I attended, the garden-parties were to me the most formidable. They are all very well for young people, and for those who do not mind the nipping and eager air, with which, as I have said, the climate of England, no less than that of America, falsifies all the fine things the poets have said about May, and, I may add, even June. We wandered about the grounds, spoke with the great people, stared at the odd ones, and said to ourselves,--at least I said to myself,--with Hamlet,
I forgot to mention that I had a very advantageous seat among the diplomatic gentlemen, and was felicitating myself on occupying one of the best positions in the House, when an usher politely informed me that the Russian Ambassador, in whose place I was sitting, had arrived, and that I must submit to the fate of eviction. Fortunately, there were some steps close by, on one of which I found a seat almost as good as the one I had just left.
Heard, not regarded."
On the 8th of June we visited the Record Office for a sight of the Domesday Book and other ancient objects of interest there preserved. As I looked at this too faithful memorial of an inexorable past, I thought of the battle of Hastings and all its consequences, and that reminded me of what I have long remembered as I read it in Dr. Robert Knox's "Races of Men." Dr. Knox was the monoculous Waterloo surgeon, with whom I remember breakfasting, on my first visit to England and Scotland. His celebrity is less owing to his book than to the unfortunate connection of his name with the unforgotten Burke and Hare horrors. This is his language in speaking of Hastings: "... that bloody field, surpassing far in its terrible results the unhappy day of Waterloo. From this the Celt has recovered, but not so the Saxon. To this day he feels, and feels deeply, the most disastrous day that ever befell his race; here he was trodden down by the Norman, whose iron heel is on him yet.... To this day the Saxon race in England have never recovered a tithe of their rights, and probably never will."
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.
O'er Bodley's dome his future labors spread,
The party, or concert, was a very brilliant affair. Patti sang to us, and a tenor, and a violinist played for us. How we two Americans came to be in so favored a position I do not know; all I do know is that we were shown to our places, and found them very agreeable ones. In the same row of seats was the Prince of Wales, two chairs off from A----'s seat. Directly in front of A---- was the Princess of Wales, "in ruby velvet, with six rows of pearls encircling her throat, and two more strings falling quite low;" and next her, in front of me, the startling presence of Lady de Grey, formerly Lady Lonsdale, and before that Gladys Herbert. On the other side of the Princess sat the Grand Duke Michael of Russia.
As for the kind of monument such as I see from my library window standing on the summit of Bunker Hill, and have recently seen for the first time at Washington, on a larger scale, I own that I think a built-up obelisk a poor affair as compared with an Egyptian monolith of the same form. It was a triumph of skill to quarry, to shape, to transport, to cover with expressive symbols, to erect, such a stone as that which has been transferred to the Thames Embankment, or that which now stands in Central Park, New York. Each of its four sides is a page of history, written so as to endure through scores of centuries. A built-up obelisk requires very little more than brute labor. A child can shape its model from a carrot or a parsnip, and set it up in miniature with blocks of loaf sugar. It teaches nothing, and the stranger must go to his guide-book to know what it is there for. I was led into many reflections by a sight of the Washington Monument. I found that it was almost the same thing at a mile's distance as the Bunker Hill Monument at half a mile's distance; and unless the eye had some means of measuring the space between itself and the stone shaft, one was about as good as the other. A mound like that of Marathon or that at Waterloo, a cairn, even a shaft of the most durable form and material, are fit memorials of the place where a great battle was fought. They seem less appropriate as monuments to individuals. I doubt the durability of these piecemeal obelisks, and when I think of that vast inverted pendulum vibrating in an earthquake, I am glad that I do not live in its shadow. The Washington Monument is more than a hundred feet higher than Salisbury steeple, but it does not look to me so high as that, because the mind has nothing to climb by. But the forming taste of the country revels in superlatives, and if we could only have the deepest artesian well in the world sunk by the side of the tallest column in all creation, the admiring, not overcritical patriot would be happier than ever was the Athenian when he looked up at the newly erected Parthenon.