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CHAPTER XXXII. - Gouverneur Morris, The Diary and Letters of Gouverneur Morris, vol. 2 
The Diary and Letters of Gouverneur Morris, Minister of the United States to France; Member of the Constitutional Convention, ed. Anne Cary Morris (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1888). 2 vols. Vol. 2.
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Morris makes a journey through part of England. Portsmouth. Plymouth. Charmed with the beauties of England. Visit to Blenheim. Lady Sutherland. Back in London. Letter to Washington. Mr. Jay’s treaty. Journey through England and Scotland. Letter to Lady Sutherland. Pictures at Burleigh House. Edinburgh. Dines with friends. Pleasant reception by the Duke and Duchess of Athol. Taymouth—Lord Breadalbane’s place. Entertained by the Duke of Argyll. Loch Lomond. Conversation with the Duke of Montrose. Glasgow. The English lake region. The Bishop of Llandaff.
Although Morris had spent many months in England, his knowledge of the country districts was mostly confined to that portion through which he passed on the journey from the channel to London. In July, therefore, he determined to see the provinces, “so as to judge for myself of the condition of things,” he wrote to Washington. From his carriage as he drove along he carefully examined the soil, made conjectures as to what would be the best fertilizers to use, and what interest the land could be made to yield on the capital employed. Meanwhile a beautiful view never escaped his attention, and his diary contains the most minute descriptions of all he saw during his entire journey. He particularly expressed surprise at the meagre forests between London and Portsmouth. “That is,” he says, “if trees be considered as an essential ingredient to the making of a forest.” In England, as in travelling on the Continent, Morris found himself passed on from one friend to another, and a pleasant welcome always ready for him when time and inclination favored his partaking of it.
Coming into Portsmouth he was immediately taken possession of by General Cuyler, who did the honors of the navy yard there stationed, and put Morris in the way to see the sights, including the French prizes just arrived at Spithead. “We go on board the Tigre, one of the late prizes, an eighty-gun ship, very fine, but dirty as yet, and much cut to pieces. A furnace is still standing on board to heat the shot; but this is a bad business at sea, as is proved by the event. She is much cut by the shot, and lost in the action one-half of her men, killed and wounded. From this ship we go to the Commerce de Marseilles, a ship taken at Toulon. She is twenty-five feet longer than the Queen Charlotte, one of the largest ships in the British Navy, and measures near five hundred tons more. On her gun deck she is two hundred and eight feet long. Her lower deck contains thirty-four thirty-two pounders, and her upper deck the same number of eighteens; the other twenty-six guns are twelve on the quarter-deck and forecastle. The officers say that this ship works as well as a frigate and sails very fast. She is hogged, but her proportions are perfect and she is one of the handsomest ships imaginable. There is a company of beautiful women on board, but I cannot stay with them. Dine with Sir William Pitt, the Governor of Portsmouth, where I meet Lord Buckingham, who is a sensible man. He had made up a party for me tomorrow to visit Sir Peter Parker, the Port Admiral, but I decline it as my time is short.” Leaving Portsmouth, July 21st, the traveller drove “over hilly down and heath, on roads that are as fine as it is possible to imagine them,” to the beautiful valley in which stands Salisbury. “As soon as we alight,” he says, “I go to see the cathedral, which is by far the lightest and handsomest Gothic building I ever saw.” The next morning, on again over the downs, “all along the tumuli (Anglicé, barrows) which show the conflicts of the olden times. The view from the downs is fine, and especially in the present moment, as there is a large fleet at anchor in the bay.” The next stopping-place to which he journeyed was Exeter, through a “country finely varied with hill and dale, the valleys very fertile, flocks of sheep scattered over the heath, the hills cultivated almost to the top; the whole scene so completely green that, indeed, there are hardly fallows enough to create the needful variety.” He arrived, July 25th, at Plymouth: “A town of miserably narrow streets; there is not room in many of them for two carriages abreast. I go on to my brother’s quarters at Roxborough Camp. Walk with Mrs. Morris, and then return to dinner. After dinner I go with Mrs. Morris to a tea-party at Colonel Bastard’s tent, where there is good company and sociability. The place leads to throw off that English coldness which checks conviviality.”
“Mrs. Morris takes me [July 27th] to the Government House to be presented to General and Lady Lenox, and I go with General Morris to dine with the Duke of Beaufort. We go this evening to a ball at Camp, where there are some handsome girls, but all dressed in a very indecent dress which they call the Grecian, and which is imitated from very loose Parisian models. We hear of the total defeat of the emigrants landed at Quiberon.”∗
“We dine to-day [July 29th] with General Granville, who accompanied the Duke of York on his travels as a kind of Mentor. There is a paragraph in an Opposition paper, the Star, which mentions war by Russia against Prussia.”
“Lord George Lenox and his family dine with us [July 31st], and we hear that the sailing of the fleet destined for the French coast is countermanded.”
“We were to have had to-day [August 1st] a grand field-day, with a mock battle, had the weather been good, but it is very bad, high wind and much rain, which renders that plan abortive; but still we pursue another, which is to assist at a ball and supper given by Mrs. Bastard. In the morning Mrs. Morris urged me to give her a copy of some verses I had written many years ago, but instead of them I wrote some on the present occasion, which are very indifferent.
“This morning [August 2d], the weather being unfit for exercise, I sit down, with a view to amuse Mrs. Morris, and translate or, rather, imitate the lines I wrought yesterday.
These verses are full of faults, and must be corrected. We dine with Lord George Lenox, where I meet the Prince de Leon and some other French officers. He tells me that the late misfortune at Quiberon must be attributed to the ignorance of Puisaye, and the overweening ambition of Messieurs d’Hervilly and de Sombreuil, who, to avoid the danger of being superseded in command by those who have higher rank, made their attempt with a force infinitely too weak, etc.”
The journey began again on August 3d, and through a beautiful country, finely cultivated, with charming views of the sea and the mouth of the Severn, Morris drove to Bristol, and from here he visited Chepstow and Tintern Abbey. “I think,” he says of the latter place, “that it is much indebted to the pens of those who have written about it; but the ivy on the walls is luxuriant.”
“Walking about Bath to-day [August 12th] I am over-taken by the ci-devant Grand Vicaire of Bordeaux, who recalls himself to my recollection; he dines with me on a cold fowl, lobster, and salad.”
“This morning [August 13th] I go to the Duke of Beaufort’s (Radminster). His grace shows me his house, in which there are some very good paintings of Salvator Rosa, Guido, etc., and his gardens, which are no way extraordinary. The road to Cirencester lay through the Duke’s park and plantations, where large herds of red and fallow deer disported themselves; and so across the Thames near its source to the inn at Barford, “which is now,” Morris says, “kept by two maiden sisters, both past sixty; and their lineal ancestors (from the information of the waiter, who has been here, he says, four and twenty years) have been innkeepers in the same house for a century back, their relations for two centuries, and the house itself has been an inn for more than three hundred years. The room in which I am now sitting was the dining room of the Pilgrims, but has lately been pulled down and modernized. There are many now noble families who cannot trace back their families in so exact a manner as these sisters. Their house is scrupulously clean, and the waiter is one of the very few men who seem to be contented in that state of life to which it has pleased God to call them. He says very gayly that he is as happy (he believes) as if he were rich, and perhaps more so. ‘I enjoy health,’ says he, ‘and what is riches without health?’”
“This morning [August 14th] I leave the inn and go on through Witney to Blenheim; ride round the park, walk afterwards over the garden, and finally view the house. The grounds, though little varied in their surface, have, nevertheless, been highly ornamented. The river is a fine piece of water now, though anciently it was, I understand, only a small brook; but the famous Brown has since rendered it worthy of the bridge thrown over it, to the regret, however, of the famous Dr. Johnson, who complained on seeing it that he had spoiled the epigram:
This park contains an area of 2,700 acres. Of this, above 200 are contained in the garden, and 260 appropriated to the river, so that there remains not more than 2,200 in wood and grass, on which are fed 2,000 deer and as many sheep, besides cattle occasionally. In the garden and park are a number of oaks of great size, though not high. The largest is said to be thirty feet in circumference. It is a large tree, but I did not measure it. The house, built by Sir John Vanbrugh, is one of many which partly drew down on him the satirical epitaph, ‘Lie heavy on him, earth, for he laid many a heavy load on thee.’ I believe it would be difficult to cover more space and have less room. It is a thing to look at, not to live in, and if ever it should fall to a munificent and hospitable owner I do not see where he would put his guests. There are many very valuable paintings in Blenheim House, especially by Rubens, some of them given by the Emperor and one by the city of Antwerp. There are some attributed to him, but I think falsely, as the coloring is neither so fine nor so fresh and glowing as in his works.”
Arrived at Oxford, Morris confided to his diary minute and enthusiastic descriptions of the beauties of that quaint old town, and “as the weather,” he says, “is as fine as the heart of man could wish, I have, in the New England phrase, improved it until I am completely tired. Should it be my. lot to spend any considerable time in England I think I will come down thither with a party and stay some days, so as to see more at leisure what is here to be seen. One thing I see with concern, that the stone is corroded by the air, so that without constant repairs the buildings made of them must crumble to dust.”
“Leave Maidenhead [August 17th], and call on Lord Grenville at Dropmore Hill, but he is abroad. At ten minutes after four reach Wimbledon, where I dine and pass the evening with Lord Gower and Lady Sutherland—a pleasant afternoon in every sense of the word.”
“I lodged at Lord Gower’s, and this morning [August 18th] Lady Sutherland brings me to town. I must endeavor to spend a day or two with them. Mr. Trumbull calls on me. He came lately through France, but saw nobody of consequence; as he had been Mr. Jay’s secretary they did not like him, being very jealous about the treaty. He says Mr. Monroe found it difficult to change principles fast enough so as to keep pace with the changes in the French Government.”
“Call on Count Woronzow [August 22d]; he tells me what has been done, what is doing, and what is like to be done. Go to see Lord Grenville at his house. He is out. Go to his office, and sit awhile with Mr. Burgess till I have an opportunity of seeing his lordship. Mr. Burgess tells me that Mr. Deas continues writing very improper letters. I am sorry for it. I find the treaty Mr. Jay has made occasions much complaint and dissatisfaction in America. He has been burned in effigy, etc. One clause∗ in the treaty is clearly ill-judged, and has been objected to by the Senate. The other clauses are, it seems to me, proper enough. Mr. Burgess tells me that I am liked by the ministers, but that is of little consequence, since a change of moon or other circumstance would produce a change of their bienveillance. Mr. Jay’s treaty has considerable blemishes, but more noise was made about it than was proper, owing to personal causes. An idea had been started that he was the proper person to succeed the President of the United States. Dine with M. and Madame Ciricello, where dine also the Duke d’Harcourt and M. de Spinola. After dinner I talk with them, and find that we are all of one mind as to the things now proper to be done. I suggest to them, as I did this morning to Mr. Burgess, the advantages to be derived from purchasing the flour and salted meats of the United States.”
“This morning [August 23d] I leave London and go to Lord Gower’s at Wimbledon. We dine en famille. I go to Count Woronzow’s at Richmond where I meet an aide-de-camp of Charette. There is somewhat of curious and hardy in his journey through Paris to La Vendée three months ago. He was present at and privy to the treaty between Charette and the agents of the Convention by which they agreed to destroy the monarchy. He was also present at a retaliation by Charette upon three hundred republicans for so many of the émigrés lately guillotined. He comes to ask troops, arms, money, etc. Lord Grenville writes to Charette that he shall be supplied to his wish, excepting only as to troops, of which he can send only four thousand, and that if his plans go on a large scale he must reduce them, etc. This is candid and proper.”
The treaty of amity and commerce which John Jay had made with Great Britain, and which had been signed at London on the 19th of November, 1794, created the greatest excitement in America. Mr. Jay, it was asserted, had been sent to adjust their claims, and he had, instead, formed a treaty with England. There was, therefore, no punishment too bad for him—the man who had sold his country. This treaty formed the subject of the following letter to Washington, written during Morris’s visit to Lady Sutherland and dated at Wimbledon, August 23d:
“I am sorry,” he wrote, “that Mr. Jay’s treaty has occasioned so much clamor in America. I believe the defects might easily be corrected, and seem to me to have arisen as much from oversight as anything else. I have not, however, conversed on the subject with any of the King’s ministers; indeed, I was but two or three days in London, returning from my tour through the South of England, and shall now set off again for my Northern tour, which will take six weeks or two months, so that I do not expect to see any of them for some time to come. You will have seen that Spain has made peace with France. I presume that Sardinia and the Italian States will follow this example, and Portugal, whether at peace or war, is not to be considered as a belligerent power. Austria, therefore, and England, are the only parties with which France has now to contend, and it seems not improbable that this will be the last campaign. It does not follow that peace will be fully restored, for I do not quite see on what terms it is to be made. Germany asks, and certainly wishes, that France should cede the countries it has conquered from the Empire, but, having no equivalent to give in exchange, nor any force to compel the cession, it seems not quite likely that the conqueror will be persuaded to make the desired surrender. Flanders will, I think, be another object of difficult disposition. If retained by France, the situation of this country will be very insecure, and I have reason to believe that Mr. Pitt would not, except in the last necessity, make peace on such terms. Of the West India Islands I shall say nothing, because you will always know more of what is doing there than we can. The British fleet will probably maintain a decided superiority there, as in Europe. Consequently a chief of real talents, to whom a broad discretion shall have been given, might do much—very much. Has Britain such a chief to send thither? Will the government leave him a sufficient liberty to act? These are questions which I cannot answer. The failure of the Quiberon affair seems to have arisen entirely from the misconduct of those French officers who commanded. The party of the royalists is in great force, and if they knew their strength throughout France (which, from the measures taken to prevent a communication of sentiments, it is very difficult and almost impossible for them to do) they would soon overturn the present powers. A second expedition is now going on from hence and will be directed to a point more proper than that where the last attempt was made. Admitting that peace were made, it is highly probable that France might become the theatre of a long and furious civil war. You will observe that they are endeavoring at a less absurd constitution than those by which they have been hitherto pestered and tormented. But supposing that they should even adopt a good one, which seems unlikely to happen, still, in my opinion, they will not be easy under it, for they never appeared to me to have the needful education nor the proper temper for free government. I continue to be persuaded that they will fall under the domination of some single despot, but I am by no means clear as to the person nor the mode by which he is to get into authority. Should the party of the royalists succeed, the business is then settled for a time very simply; otherwise, it may be the result of civil commotion, and in all cases the fatigue of such violent convulsions will induce that turbulent people to submit to the yoke with great tameness.
“This hemisphere seems in general to be oddly situated. Few of the existing governments possess vigor equal to the trying circumstances which surround them, and in many corruption is superadded to weakness. The French and Prussian Cabinets are endeavoring to stir the Turk, and if they bring him into action it will probably terminate to his great disadvantage; but about this they are indifferent, provided he would make a powerful diversion to forces which are now employed against France, and others which menace Prussia. I believe this last will be reduced to insignificance before the close of the present century, and in the meantime I should not be surprised at his invasion of Hanover. France is so much exhausted that she can do little, very little, if anything, at a distance from her own frontier. Sweden, who is begging for cash, without which her efforts will be futile, cannot, I think, obtain an adequate assistance, and in the meantime Russia will probably bring about another revolution in that country, and re-establish the Senate. Denmark will fall into the scale of Russia, Austria, and England, rather than of their enemies. The season is so far advanced that no stroke will probably be struck in the North this year, owing principally to the feebleness of the Cabinet of Vienna.
“In all cases, Holland appears to me to be completely undone. The bankruptcy of their India Company, long palliated, now stands confessed, and that of the nation exists, though not avowed. Her commerce is totally suspended, and, as the great mass of the people derived thence their means of subsistence, the distress will be great and general. Discontent as general must thence arise, and if the French protection be withdrawn the patriots (so called) will probably be sacrificed. In the case of a general pacification I do not see how, or on what principle, the ruling powers can keep up a large French army in the heart of their country. But in whatever manner it may be done they can, from the nature of things, be no more than the upper servants of such an army. Placing the matter in the fairest point of view, and supposing the present party to be the strongest, still they will not, I think, be able to establish that order and security without which commerce will fly far from their shores. Hence I conclude that London will become the great emporium of trade in Europe, unless the devil should put it into their heads to make revolutions here also, which will not, I believe, be the case during the life of the present monarch.”
The projected journey of which Morris wrote to Washington was begun on Friday, August 28th. “I go,” he notes in his diary, “(at great expense of turnpikes) round the north side of London, instead of passing through that city, and enter the Cambridge road near the two-mile stone. Then on through Edmonton to Cambridge.” From here he gave Lady Sutherland the benefit of his experiences in a characteristic letter.
August 27, 1795.
“DearLadySutherland: I will perform what I did not promise, and give you an account of what I saw and also of what I felt. First, then, I felt on leaving Wimbledon like a boy at the end of vacation, and I fear I shall find nothing I like so well in my whole route. Next I visited the bed of Ware, and I am able to assure you that it still exists and is (as the chamber-maid told me) ‘eleven feet and a half square, built by Edward the Fourth in the year 1463 for his servants.’ I believe that she is not much of an antiquarian, but it seems that the date is on it. Moreover, I am just returned from having divine service (so called) at King’s Chapel, a sort of chanting in which it was difficult to distinguish what was said. The Almighty, from his quality of omniscience, is of course apprised of it, and also of what was thought on the occasion; but, methinks, if ever I should be a god or a fine lady, I would never grant but to natural sentiments expressed in a natural manner. Tell my Lord Gower that the word I have just underscored seems to me to convey a different idea from I think. This last is a plain declaration of what passes in the mind, as it is affected either by exterior objects or by its own reasoning faculties. Thus, I think you are a charming woman, I think his lordship is a sensible, well-informed man, and I think a late manifesto will be attended with bad consequences. Methinks, on the other hand, seems to express rather an effect of the mind on itself by means of the imagination, and precedes a communication of those fanciful creations which accompany strong emotion. Thus, methinks the world without you were a desert—I certainly do not mean to say that the present harvest would have been destroyed had you never existed. So much for synonymes. I must add, however, that, being consecrated to the sublime, that term, in common with others of the sort, when used on common occasions is expressive of the ironical or ridiculous—another proof that it is not quite synonymous with I think. I must not forget to tell you that King’s Chapel reconciles me in some measure to Gothic architecture. I will tell you nothing more just now, but bid you adieu.”
The history of this journey, with the minutest account of daily events—of the weather, the crops, and the people—which would be unnecessary to detail here, is given in the diary. It will be possible to give only a sketch of Morris’s trip through the pleasant land of England, and to note only the places which most attracted his attention. First among these was Burleigh House, “where,” he says, “I spend a considerable time viewing this vast château, and the very great collection of paintings. A fortnight would not suffice to examine them. I was obliged to tear myself away from one, ‘Our Saviour Blessing the Bread and Wine. I never saw such a countenance. I believe nothing human was ever so beautiful, so heavenly. The smallest details are perfect—the very napkin is from the hand of a master; but such expression in the countenance, so manly, so soft, so like what one would wish to imagine of the God of mercy, without being ever able to accomplish that wish. Wonderful art! Sublime artist! This great collection contains many pieces of the highest merit, but this one is, in my opinion, so far beyond all the rest that, having seen it, I could hardly look at what followed. The house was built in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and is, though ancient, not in a bad style. I could not conveniently view the park, in which there was one striking defect—a pond instead of a river. By concealing the two ends, for it is a winding pond, it would seem a river. There are a great many very rare and valuable objects to be seen at this house, but Carlo Dolci occupies all my sense of recollection in that wonderful combination of majesty, sweetness, pity, and resignation, which I believe I shall never forget.” A few days later, in the entry of September 10th, he says: “Writing a letter this evening to Lady Sutherland, I mentioned to her the painting which pleased me so much at Burleigh House, and in viewing it again with the mind’s eye I tell her:
At Sheffield, Birmingham, and Leeds, by reason of letters to manufacturers, Morris was well received and every facility given him to inspect all the interesting operations of those active towns. The moral and physical condition of the operatives, their wages, and the number of hours of work required of them, were subjects which always commanded his attention and excited his interest. The beauty of the cultivated fields, the picturesqueness of the scenery through which he passed, never failed to call forth some expression of pleasure; and the more or less significant incidents of the day amused rather than discomposed him. “To-day,” he says, September 5th, “the weather is showery, and I observed a young woman preparing against the rain under a little tree. She had on her new gown and bonnet; to save them from the weather, I offered her a seat in my chaise. She at first made no answer, but after some time spent, as I supposed, in reflection, she agreed suddenly, as if her determination was completely and decidedly made up. The door is opened, and she is seated next me and we jog on. It becomes me to do the honors, and so I began conversation by asking whither she was going. She looked very steadily forward, held up an oil-skin bonnet, which she had in her hand, and fixed her eyes on it with a kind of eager anxiety. I thought that my question was imprudent, and had perhaps awakened some ideas of an uncomfortable kind. Before I could arrange any conjecture on the subject, she began to jump from her seat with a kind of convulsive motion, then wriggled a little, and with a clear voice told me she was going to Hunslet. This is a little village a mile short of Leeds. All these strange phenomena resulted from a most extraordinary impediment in her speech.”
Morris was much impressed at Edinburgh, where he arrived on the 15th of September, by the extreme height of the houses, which appeared to him, as he says, “to be one of the most curious things which I have seen anywhere. Directly opposite the window of my bedroom is a house ten stories high; at least upon this, the north front of it. On the other side it has, I suppose, five, six, or seven, being built on a side-hill, and in the street on the top of the hill there are sundry houses of the latter height. In the old part of the town, if it were not for the signs, etc., in English, one might take it for a French town. In Holyrood House is the most curious gallery of paintings in Europe. Buchanan wrote a Scottish novel which he called the history of his country, and gives therein an account of kings that never existed. The Duke of York, afterwards King of Great Britain, and afterwards an unfortunate wanderer, brought over a Flemish painter (Dewitt) who copied some of the originals of the later Scottish princes; and then, to fill up the list, either from his own fancy or the phizzes which he could meet with, made up a long line, giving thus to Buchanan’s ideal forms—aerial nothings—a local habitation and a name. We are shown here the apartments of the imprudent, unfortunate Mary, and the closet where she was sitting with a lady and David Rizzio, when this poor fellow was dragged out by the haughty, barbarous lord of her court into an adjoining chamber and stabbed. There are on the floor some stains, said to have been made by his blood. In Mary’s chamber are preserved some articles of needle-work which she had wrought. All this brings strongly to my mind the needle-work which I have seen of the late unhappy Marie Antoinette, and still more strongly her miserable fate. In my walk this evening I meet women coming up from Leith with baskets of oysters on their backs fastened by a strap which comes round their foreheads. They remind me of the mode of working oxen in France, where the peasants contend that the animals have more strength that way than any other.”
“Lord Somerville calls [September 20th], and tells me that Lord Adam Gordon expresses a wish to see me, on which we go together to wait on his lordship. Dine with Lord Somerville, who gives me a good dinner with excellent wines. We are three. Sir Richard Ainslie is the third. His younger brother, Robert, was long ambassador from this country to the Porte. This Sir Richard seems to be an oppositionist, and expresses an ardent affection for America, so much that I doubt a little of the reality and altogether of the extent.”
“Returning from visiting Mrs. Arbuthnot I meet [September 23d] Sir John McPherson, who has just come from my lodgings; so I return and go to take tea with him. In the course of conversation I learn from him what I had got before but slightly from Mr. Cochrane; viz., that the British policy in India is to encourage a free commerce with all the world, which, by pouring wealth into that country, adds greatly to the revenue, etc. He tells me that when, by the return of Mr. Hastings, he was left at the head of affairs in India, he found the revenue one twelvemonth in arrear, two hundred thousand men to provide for, not a shilling in the treasury, and bills on Europe quite unsalable. In this situation he issued a paper money bearing interest, which was redeemed in numerical order. All payments were made in that paper, and the accounts of its redemption regularly published. This, says he, gave it such credit that a black merchant had at one time half a million of it in his possession; and this gain, he says, was the origin of the French assignats, and thereupon he gives me the filiation, which history I do not contradict; but I know more of the origin of assignats than he does.”
“At the register’s office is placed Mrs. Damer’s statue of the reigning king. It is colossal, and placed on a very low pedestal, which has a bad effect; besides, the performance itself is very tame. Sir William Forbes calls on me this morning, and Mr. Cochrane. Dine with Lord Adam Gordon [September 24th], who is very polite and extremely attentive to me. Lords Somerville and Napier, with General Campbell and others, are of our party. A very good dinner and a pleasant evening.”
From Edinburgh Morris continued his wanderings to Stirling and Perth, and so on to Dunkeld, “the approach to which,” he says, “is singularly fine. At some miles distant we drive directly towards the mountain which is on the right bank of the Tay, and then turn off to our right towards the river, which we break upon lying under us. Before we get to the end of our stage it begins to rain, so that a part of the view is hidden, but the gloominess of a storm is more suitable to the surly grandeur of a mountain-scene than garish day. I had heard much of the bare Scottish hills before I came hither, and some of them are bare enough, in all conscience; but I see numerous plantations rising in different places to clothe them, and in another century the great bareness will be found only in the conversation of the English, like the present penury and scarcity and famine of Caledonia. John Bull seriously believes, and as seriously relates, the wretchedness of his Northern brethren, which I dare say existed at the Union; but the culture of a part of Scotland is equal, if not superior, to any in the island. Improvement daily makes great progress, and diffuses wealth and plenty. Good stone houses take place of the former mud hovels; planting, manuring, and enclosing hourly change the face of the country; climate, indeed, is wanting, but fruit is said to be plentiful and cheap at Perth. Dunkeld, seen from the opposite shore, has the air of a fortification. This is owing to the walls on the river’s bank, to secure little patches of earth which serve as gardens or grass-plats to the houses, and, being no wider than they are, seem like a parapet with embrasures.”
“Arrived [September 30th] at Blair in Athol, the residence of the Duke of Athol; a letter of introduction and a card of “compliment was responded to at once by the Duchess, who desires that I would come over, which I do as soon as I have dined. We are in the midst of the Grampians, naturally very high, rugged, and bare; but the possessors are busily engaged in clothing them. There are many fine views of little cultivated plains, with the river meandering through them, and overhung with rocky crags. The huts of the Highland peasants are as miserable and as filthy as the worst description of them which I have ever seen. My valet-de-chambre tells me they are just pictures of those inhabited by the Russian and Livonian slaves.” A day or two passed pleasantly in the society of the Duke and Duchess, inspecting the deer shot by his grace, and scribbling verses apropos of the “Duchesse’s discontent at the strong hunting temper of M. le Duc.” In the Duke’s carriage Morris left Blair in Athol the 3d of October, and, passing through the gorge of Killiecrankie, where King William’s troops were defeated by the Highlanders and Lord Dundee was killed, soon reached the country-seat of Lord Breadalbane, at the mouth of Loch Tay, where he was hospitably received. Prepared to resume his journey by the 5th of October, the weather, being very rainy, induced him to “yield to the hospitalities of Lord Breadalbane. Pour comble de bonheur, my coachman tells me that one of my horses was lamed last night, but this information was given after I had agreed to stay, otherwise I should have been in sad plight. Speaking after dinner on the extent of the Duke of Athol’s possessions, Lord Breadalbane tells me that he can ride one hundred and ten miles without going off his estates, and this in a straight line.”
“This morning [October 6th] is very fine, but I am obliged to stay for my horse, who can hardly walk and who is lying down in the stable. Go fishing on the lake, but the fish will neither rise at the fly nor take the worm bait, and I have no other; so we return, and cast the net, with which we take a perch and some trout. On returning to the house I find a pair of parsons, and our conversation turns on the improvement of the country. They go away early, but, as my servant afterwards tells me, it is to take a dish of tea with the upper servants.”
Leaving Taymouth and his hospitable entertainers, “with promises to see them in London next winter,” Morris pushed on to Inverary, where he arrived on the 9th of October. “The misfortune of this country through which I pass,” he comments, “is that there are too many people—a great number of cottagers, who can pay no rent, and make no improvements, being wholly occupied in obtaining a subsistence. Fuel is scarce and difficult to be got; add to this they are all tenants at will, and of course have no disposition to improve either house or land. The Duke of Argyll is out riding when I arrive, and I have dined at his return, when he sends for me to dinner. I therefore assist at his repast without partaking of it. His daughter, Lady Charlotte, has the mania of being admired, which will, I think, lead her far. After dinner, before they quit the table, she and her elder married sister sing a duetto for the old gentleman, who tells me that music is his principal enjoyment. The weather is better to-day, but seems yet to be wild.”
“This morning [October 10th] or, rather, this noon, His Grace takes me in his chaise round his grounds. There are some fine views and a good deal of wood. He has had a rage for husbandry, and, as the climate is intolerably wet, has built immense barns in which to dry the grain as it is brought in. It serves for the hay also, and is above all, or, rather, they are—for he has two—very ornamental. He has several people now at work repairing and building bridges, for some time ago they had a water-spout which broke over the mountains for a few miles in this neighborhood, and poured down such torrents of water as to sweep along with them vast rocks and, of course, everything else. We have for dinner, among other things, chevreuil (roebuck), a very common game here, and but little esteemed. This evening I am très aimable, and in consequence the ladies press me much to stay a day longer. What amuses me most in this request is that a Miss Campbell joins in it. She took me last evening in much dislike, and showed it so clearly that this morning Lady Augusta, without going directly at the point, made an apology by letting me into her history, which is contained in three words—a disappointed old maid. I had well perceived it, and, as occasion offered, had already by little attentions put myself much better with her.”
“Go on to Loch Lomond [October 12th], and reach Buchanan, the seat of His Grace of Montrose, in the afternoon. He is on his grounds. En attendant his arrival I read, for madame is par trop anglaise pour recevoir le monde de monsieur. When she appears, however, she becomes very well. The Duke is a sensible, well-informed man. We have some political conversation, and he appears to me, like most of the well-informed men I have met in this country, much better acquainted with their domestic concerns than with foreign affairs. He is indisposed to that great extension of manufactures and commerce which has introduced a great deal of money into the country, but which has greatly relaxed the military spirit. I have met lately with several people of this opinion, which certainly has weight. It will be proper, perhaps, to give some new spring to the militia service and infuse a little more of the aristocratic temper; but this last is, I believe, a difficult thing. There seems to be in all human societies at a certain period of their progress a natural tendency towards the pecuniary system, and as it prevails it ruins and destroys the aristocracy. Now this is done by lessening the respect for virtue, because, in effect, whatever may have been the origin of great families, in a course of ages some of their members have shed on each a splendor which awes the vulgar. Moreover, I believe experience will justify the assertion that such families are generally more fair and upright in their conduct than others. Be it the effect of education, of example, or of respect for a deceased ancestry, or let it result from that affluence which places them above temptation—no matter for what cause—such conduct must impress on others deep sentiments of respect. But when the money influence grows great the general maxim is be rich; if you can, honestly, but be rich. From that moment may, I believe, be dated the decline of an empire; and although circumstances may check the progress of destruction, though the weakness of surrounding States may lengthen out a feeble existence, yet, the infection taken, it extends a silent but deadly corruption which few, if any, political constitutions are strong enough to throw off. These ideas lead far on in questions of finance, commerce, public funds, etc. It is not either an answer or an objection that great public calamities may correct or revolutions remove evils. The one is a remedy prescribed by circumstances, the other is a political death, and the succeeding men live under a new government and in a new state of society.”
“This morning [October 14th] I leave the Duke’s and go on to Glasgow. In my route I stop twice to look at the canal which crosses the island here, and which this day, for the second time, I rode under. First I went to look at a succession of locks which rise immediately after the canal has been carried over a river, and saw sufficiently, I think, their principle and constitution. I admire much the execution—in hewn stone, etc., all in the best style. My second object was to see a number of vessels collected and lading in the highest part of the canal; some brigs, sloops, etc. On inquiry I find that those which draw only seven feet and a half of water can go through; also that there are twenty locks each of eight feet, so that the whole rise is one hundred and sixty feet. When I see this, my mind opens to a view of wealth for the interior of America which hitherto I had rather conjectured than seen.”
By October 21st Morris was back again in England. From Carlisle he went to Keswick. “On the way,” he says, “we passed at the foot of Skiddaw, which is a good height; the vale, as far as mist, rain, and twilight will permit me to judge of it, is very beautiful. I ride almost round the famous Derwentwater Lake, which is nothing compared with those in Scotland, either for size or depth. At the head of it lies Borrowdale, which we ascend for two miles. The road is just wide enough for the carriage, and we hang over the precipice in some places curiously enough, but such is the force of habit that this excites in my bosom no kind of emotion. The driver and horses seem to be well acquainted with what they are about, and that is sufficient. In the deep bosom of this dale a man might have lived fifty years ago and no one have heard of him, but now the wealth and idleness of Britain have made it a place of great resort. Lord William Gordon has built a small house at the lower end of the lake, the north end, which contrasts well with the wild and shaggy appearance of the other.”
Pushing on through the beautiful lake country of England to Windermere, Morris finally arrived at Colgarth Park, “where, having announced myself to the Bishop of Llandaff and Mrs. Watson, I agree to stay. The reception of the Bishop is very good; he is a sensible man of considerable genius and very pleasant conversation. He tells me that on March 25th, the day the Marquis of Rockingham kissed hands on being appointed minister, he showed him on the back of a letter certain conditions which he had made with the King and took down with a pencil. The first of these was that the independence of America should be acknowledged. The marquis took that precaution because on a former occasion the King had deceived him, and His Majesty was so hurt by that precaution that he never forgave the marquis, and expressed indecently his satisfaction when he heard of the other’s death. The Bishop mentions to me some traits of the Prince of Wales to show that he is a better man than is generally supposed, but these apply more to the self-love of my informant than they do to the subject. The Bishop is a stanch Opposition man, and, as he says, a firm, decided Whig. He is certainly a good landlord, and a man of genius. I taste at dinner of the famous char, taken in the Windermere, which is, I think, neither more nor less than a very good trout. There are some differences, such as a more forked tail, and whitish instead of brown spots. There is also a considerable redness on the belly, but I have seen greater differences between the trout of different waters, excepting always that of the tail. I had read that these fish had gizzards, and had them opened so as to compare their entrails with those of a trout lying together on the same plate, and cannot perceive the slightest difference.”
[∗]An English expedition had been despatched to Brittany with a band of émigrés to aid the royalists, but an attempted descent from Quiberon Bay, July 15–20, 1795, proved a failure.
[∗]Probably the twelfth article, which forbade American vessels carrying coffee, cocoa, sugar, molasses, or cotton, either from English ports or from the United States. There were even at that time thousands of bales of cotton shipped every year from Southern ports.