Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XVIII.: tour over europe. - The Life of Richard Cobden
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CHAPTER XVIII.: tour over europe. - John Morley, The Life of Richard Cobden 
The Life of Richard Cobden (London: T. Fisher Unwiin, 1903).
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tour over europe.
Accompanied by his wife, Cobden landed at Dieppe on the1846–7.
The travellers passed rather more than eleven weeks in Spain, and at the beginning of the new year found themselves 1846.
When he returned to England he had such a conspectus and cosmorama of Europe in his mind as was possessed by no statesman in the country; of the great economic currents, of the special commercial interests, of the conflicting political issues, of the leading personages. Unless knowledge of such things is a superfluity for statesmen whose strong point is asserted to be foreign policy, Cobden was more fit to discuss the foreign policy of this country than any man in it. In less than a year after his return, Europe was shaken by a tremendous convulsion. The kings whom he had seen were forced from their thrones, and the greatest of the statesmen of the old world fled out in haste from Vienna. Neither they nor Cobden foresaw the storm that was so close upon them; but Cobden at least was aware of those movements in Paris which were silently unchaining the revolutionary forces. The following passage is from a letter written ten years later, but this is a proper place for it:—
“When I was in Paris in 1846, I saw Guizot, and though I had weighed him accurately as a politician, I pronounced him an intellectual pedant and a moral prude, with no more knowledge of men and things than is possessed by professors who live among their pupils, and he seemed to me to have become completely absorbed in the hard and unscrupulous will of Louis Philippe. At that time I was the hero of a successful agitation, and was taken into the confidence of all the leaders of the opposition who were getting up the movement which led first to the banquets, and next to the revolution. I was at Odillon Barrot’s, and at Girardin’s,1846.
As it happened, Cobden arrived in Spain at the moment of the once famous marriages of the young Queen and her sister, the one to her cousin, Don Francisco, the other to the Duke of Montpensier. The Minister sent Cobden and his party tickets for the ceremony, and they found themselves placed close to the great personages of the day. They went to a bull-fight, with the emotions that the scene usually stirs in all save Spanish breasts, and Cobden’s disgust was particularly aroused by the presence of the Spanish Primate at the brutal festival.2 Alexander Dumas who had come to Madrid to write an account of the Duke of Montpensier’s marriage, went with Cobden over the Museum and the Escurial. At Seville Cobden had such a reception that the newspapers assured their readers that Christopher Columbus himself could hardly have been more enthusiastically applauded, or more highly honoured for the new world which he had presented to Castille.
Everywhere men were delighted by his tact and address. He made as captivating points in a speech to the traders of Cadiz, the farmers of Perugia, or the great nobles in Rome,1846.
Mrs. Cobden said that it was fortunate that her husband had not too high an opinion of himself, or else the Italians would have turned his head, so many attentions, both public and private, were showered upon him. Even at a tranquil little town like Perugia a troop of musicians sallied out to serenade him at his hotel, the Agricultural Society sent a silver medal and a diploma, and in the evening at the Casino 1846.
On their arrival at Genoa, on their return from all these honours (May 20), they found that O’Connell had died there the previous day. They at once proceeded to pay a visit to his son, and from O’Connell’s servant, who had been with him for thirteen years, they heard the circumstances of the great patriot’s end.3
Cobden’s diaries of this long and instructive tour are so copious that they would more than fill one of these volumes. They afford a complete economic panorama of the countries which he visited, and abound in acute observations, and judicious hints of all kinds from the Free Trader’s point of view. Their facts, however, are now out of date, and their interest is mostly historic. The reader will probably be satisfied with a moderate number of extracts, recording Cobden’s interviews with important people, and his impressions of historic scenes.
Dieppe, Aug. 6th, 1846.—“Called and left my card with the King’s aide-de-camp, at the chateau. The King was out in the forest for a drive; on his return received an invitation to call at the chateau at eight o’clock. We found thirty or forty persons in the saloon, the King, Queen, and Madame Adelaide, the King’s sister, in the middle of the room. Louis Philippe was very civil and very communicative, talked much against war, and ridiculed the idea of an acquisition of more territory, saying, ‘What would be the use of our taking Charleville, or Philippeville? Why, it would give us a dozen more bad deputies, that’s all!’ Said the people would not now tolerate war, and much in that strain. He alluded to the League and my labours, but I could not1846.
“He was not very complimentary to Lord Palmerston, applying to him a French maxim, which may be turned into the English version, ‘If you bray a fool in a mortar, he will remain a fool still.’ He repeated two or three times that he wished there were no custom-houses, but ‘how is revenue to be raised?’ He quoted a conversation with Washington, in which the latter had deplored the necessity of raising the whole of the American revenue from customs’ duties. I had heard in England, before starting, that Louis Philippe was himself deeply interested in the preservation of monopoly; and that his large property in forests would be diminished in value by the free importation of coals and iron. But I will not hastily prejudge his Majesty so far as to believe, without better proofs, that he is actuated by a personal interest in secretly opposing the progress of Free Trade principles. It is difficult, however, to conceive that a man of his sagacity and knowledge can be blind to the importance of these principles in consolidating the peace of empires.”
“Paris, August 10th.—Early in the morning a call from Domville, my old French master; engaged him to give me an hour’s instruction every morning during my stay in 1846.
“August 15th, Saturday.—French lesson. Went with Léon Faucher to call upon M. Thiers; walked and gossiped in his garden, and talked without reserve upon Free Trade. I warned him not to pronounce an opinion against us, thus to fall into the same predicament as Peel did. He seems never to have thought upon the subject, but promises fairly. A lively little man without dignity, and with nothing to impress you with a sense of power.”
“Barcelona, December 8th.—Reached Barcelona at half-past five o’clock; as it was half-an-hour after sunset, the health officers did not visit us, and we were shut up in our floating prison till the following morning. This system of requiring pratique at every port for vessels in the coasting-trade is most useless and vexations, and would be submitted to by none but Spaniards. They shrug their shoulders like Turks, and say, ‘It was always so.’ The waiter on the steamer told us that the best part of the profits of his situation came from smuggling, and that the smuggling was all done through the connivance of the government employés; he stated that the contraband goods conveyed by him were generally carried on shore by the custom-house officers themselves. This agrees with all that I heard from the consuls and merchants on the Mediterranean coast. The French consul at Carthagena remarked whilst speaking of the universal corruption of the custom-house officers, ‘With money you might pass the tower of Notre Dame through the custom-house without observation, but without money you could not pass this,’ holding up his pocket handkerchief.”
“Perpignan, December 14th and 15th.—Luxuriated in the1846.
“Narbonne, December 16th.—Left Perpignan this morning at eleven o’clock. The road to Narbonne passed along the marshy shores of the Mediterranean; very uninteresting scenery. But the sensation of passing along a French road in an English carriage was quite delightful after the Spanish travelling. The men wearing the blue blouse. What a contrast in the appearance of the two peoples! On one side the mountain, the grave, sombre, dignified, dark Spaniard; here the lively, supple, facetious, amiable Frenchman, who seems ready to adapt himself to any mood to please you.”
“Montpellier, December 17th.—Separated from our traveling companions 5 this morning at Narbonne; they started at eight o’clock for Toulouse, and we at the same hour for Montpellier. Our road lay along a rich and populous but uninteresting country, through Beziers, and for some distance close to the Mediterranean. The people were busy in the fields, cutting off the long dry shoots of the vines with a pair of pruning shears, and leaving nothing but the stumps. When within ten miles of Montpellier, snow began to fall, and it continued during the rest of the journey.”
“Nice, Jan. 3rd, 1847.—Sir George Napier called; lost his left arm at Ciudad Rodrigo; is younger brother of the 1847.
“Nice, Jan. 4th.—Saw a large number of men assembled in the open place; peasants chiefly, conscripts for the army; went amongst them, a sturdy-looking set, and apparently not dissatisfied with their fate; am told they are generally only liable to serve for fourteen months. Called on M. Lacroix, the Consul, who said the government of Sardinia has a monopoly of salt, gunpowder, and tobacco; that the province or county of Nice is not included in the general customs-law of the kingdom, but has its own privileges; that corn from foreign countries pays a duty, but that all other articles, excepting those monopolized by government, are imported free. Called upon an old Frenchman, named Sergent, in his ninety-seventh year, who acted a prominent part in the scenes of the first revolution, and is one of the few men living who signed or voted for the execution of the king; was originally an engraver, and there were several of his productions on the walls of his room, but nothing commemorative of Napoleon’s exploits.6
“Nice, Jan. 5th.—Dined with Mr. Davenport, and met M. Sergent. Took tea with Sir George Napier and Lady N.; met M. Gastand, a merchant of the town, who told me that1847.
“Genoa, Jan. 13th.—This morning the Marquis d’Azeglio called, with Mr. William Gibbs—the former a Piedmontese who has written poetry, romances, and political works, and is also an artist. He told me he had been expelled from Rome by the late Pope, and from Lombardy and Florence, in consequence of his writings. An amiable and intelligent man, evincing rational views upon the moral progress of his country, and deprecating revolutionary violence as inimical to the advance of liberal principles.
“Genoa, Jan. 16th.—Called on Dr.——and Mr. Brown (Consul); the latter showed me a copy of Junius, with numerous notes in pencil by Horne Tooke on the margin; described the demagogue, whom he knew personally, as a finished scoundrel. In the evening dined with a party of about fifty persons, Marquis d’Azeglio president. The consuls of France, Spain, Belgium, and Tuscany present, as well as several of the Genoese nobles, and merchants of different countries. French was universally spoken. My speech was intended for the ministers at Turin rather than my hearers. In this country, where there is no representative system, public opinion has no direct mode of influencing the policy of the state, and therefore I used such arguments as were calculated to have weight with the government, and induce them to favour Free Trade as a means of increasing the national revenue.”
“Genoa, Jan. 17th.—In the evening M. Papa called and 1847.
“Genoa, Jan. 18th.—In the evening I visited the governor (Marchese Paulucci) at his reception. A large party filled his rooms, some dancing; a large majority of the men, officers in the army. The governor thanked me for the tone in which I had spoken at the public dinner given to me on Saturday; said that he had naturally felt a little anxious to know how the proceedings had been conducted, and complemented me upon my tact, etc.7 In speaking about the power of Russia to make an irruption into Europe, I expressed an opinion that she had not the money to march 40,000 soldiers out of her territory; he agreed with me, and mentioned an anecdote in confirmation. He said that when he was military governor of a district in the Caucasus, he was applied to for a plan of operations for the invasion of Persia; that, when he handed in to the Minister his estimate of the number of troops to be set in motion, the latter was so surprised at the smallness of the1847.
“Rome, Jan. 22nd.—In Tuscany no corn law of any kind has been allowed to exist by the present dynasty for many generations. Mr. Lloyd told me an anecdote of one of the leaders of the revolutionary party of 1831, who, when asked by him, what practical reforms he wished to carry by a change in the government, remarked that one of the grievances he wished to remedy was the want of adequate protection for the land. So that had this patriot been able to induce the people to upset the Grand Duke’s authority, he would have rewarded them with a Corn Law! Was told that the grass of which the far-famed Leghorn bonnets are made, can only be grown in perfection in Tuscany, that it has been sown elsewhere, but without success, and that the seed from which it is grown is the produce of a few fields only; inquire further on my return about this. Left Leghorn at six o’clock for Civita Vecchia, and arrived there at eight the following morning.... Left at half-past twelve for Rome, the road lying along the beach for several miles. Almost immediately on quitting the town the country assumed the character of a wild common, covered with shrubs and tufts of long grass, and this neglected appearance of the soil continued with slight interruptions of cultivated patches as long as daylight lasted. Noticed the fine bullocks of a light grey colour, with dark shoulders, and having very long branching horns, noble-looking 1847.
“Rome, Jan. 23rd.—The effect of the colonnade is much impaired by the high square buildings of the Vatican, which rise high above on the right, and detract even from the appearance of the great façade. On the first sight of the interior, I was not struck so much with its grandeur or sublimity, as with the beauty and richness of its details. I felt impressed with more solemnity in entering York Minster for the first time than in St. Peter’s. The glare and glitter of so much gold and such varieties of marble distract the eye, and prevent it taking in the whole form of the building in one coup-d’œil, as we do in the simple stone of our unadorned Gothic Cathedrals. I was disappointed too in the statues, many of which are poor things.”
“Rome, Jan. 25th.—.... Then to the Vatican, and passed a couple of hours in walking leisurely through the numerous galleries of sculpture where the enthusiastic admirer of the art may revel to intoxication amidst the most perfect forms; here I was more than satisfied. I had not pictured to myself anything so extensive or varied. Not only is the human figure of both sexes and all ages in every possible graceful attitude transferred to marble, which all but breathes and moves, but there are perfect models of animals too, and all arranged with consummate taste and skill in rooms that are worthy of enshrining such treasures. The Laocoon to my eye is the masterpiece. The Apollo Belvidere is perfect in anatomy, but the features express no feeling. Saw Raphael’s masterpiece; the drawing faultless, but the subjects were unhappily dictated by monkish patrons, and they confined the artist too much to the expression of a very limited range of sentiments, as veneration, etc.”
“Feb. 8th.—In the evening to a ball at the French1847.
“Feb. 10th.—I was entertained at a public dinner in the hall of the Chamber of Commerce; about thirty-five persons present, Marquis Potenziani in the chair; Prince Corsini, very aged, Prince Canino (Bonaparte), Duke of Bracciano (Torlonia), Marquis Dragonetti, etc., amongst the guests. The healths of the Pope and the Queen of England drank together as one toast! I spoke in English, about a dozen of the company appearing to understand me. Doctor Pantaleone then read an Italian translation of my speech, which was well received and elicited cheers for the translator from those who had understood the English. A Doctor Masi, a celebrated improvisatore, delivered an improvisation in the course of the evening upon myself; his look and gestures were strikingly eloquent, even to one who could not understand his language. There was a wild expression of inspiration in his countenance which realized the idea of a poet’s fine frenzy, and the effect was heightened by his long black hair, which streamed from a high pale brow down upon his shoulders. His emotions imparted to the audience an electrical effect, which now roused them to immoderate excitement and next melted them to tears. One of his verses produced an unanimous call for an encore; he paused 1847.
“February 11th.—Called on Prince Corsini, colonel Caldwell, Lord Ossulston, then to the Corso again, to join in the fun of the Carnival, streets more crowded than ever with carriages and masquers, the English everywhere and always the most uproarious. If there be any excess of boisterousness visible, it is ten to one that it proceeds from the English or other foreigners. The Italians do little more than exchange bouquets or little bonbons in a very quiet, graceful way, throwing them to each other from their carriages or balconies, but the English shovel upon each other the chalk confettis, with all the zeal and energy of navigators. It is quite certain that a carnival in England would not pass over so peaceably as here; people would begin with sugar-plums, and go on to apples and oranges, then proceed to potatoes, and end probably with stones.”
“Rome, February 12th.—Called on Mr. Hemans, son of the poetess, who is editing the Roman Advertiser, an English weekly paper, and gave him a copy of my speech. Then accompanied Prince Canino in an open carriage to see the foxhounds throw off in the Campagna, beyond the tomb of Cæcilia Metella; the hounds drew the ruins of aqueducts and tombs, under the direction of ‘Dick’ and ‘George,’ the whippers-in, in regular Melton style, but not finding, they proceeded across the Campagna to a wood at a distance.1847.
“In the evening to the American Consul’s, and found a number of his countrymen and women in masquerade dresses, everything about them lively excepting the spirits of the actors. Introduced to several of ‘our most distinguished citizens,’—a title for a bore.”
“February 13th.—Dined with Mr. and Mrs. S. Gurney, met young Bunsens, and some other Germans, the Prussian Minister, etc. Speaking to the latter about his being almost the only Protestant representative at the court of the Pope, he said that Peel had applied to the Prussian Government to know whether it found it advantageous or otherwise to have a diplomatic connexion with the Holy See, and that the answer given was, that the disadvantages rather predominated, and that if that Government stood in the position of England, it would prefer to remain without diplomatic relations with Rome. Next to Prince Canino’s soirée, very mixed, but very agreeable, and many intelligent men there. Was introduced to the Count of Syracuse, brother of the King of Naples, with whom I had a long talk about Ireland, France, and other matters. Found him, for a king’s brother, a very clear-headed, well-informed man. Talked with the Sardinian 1847.
“February 14th.—They who argue that the working people are elevated in intellect and prompted to habits of cleanliness and self-respect by having free access to public buildings devoted to the arts, must not quote the ragged, dirty crowds who frequent St. Peter’s to kiss the toe of the statue of the saint!”
“Feb. 16th.—The statue of Moses by Michael Angelo in the Church of San Pietro in Vincoli, did not impress me on looking at it as I expected. The execution may be all that the sculptor desires, but to my eye the face wants both dignity and honesty of expression, and the head fails to impress me with the idea of wisdom or capacity in the great law-giver.”
“Feb. 19th.—To the Barberini Palace to see a very small collection of paintings, one of them the far-famed Beatrice Cenci by Guido. The touching pensiveness of the face produces such an impression that it will be present in one’s recollection when perhaps every other picture in Rome is forgotten.
“In the evening took tea with Mrs. Jameson, authoress of works on early painters, an agreeable woman, whose good-nature and sense prevent her from displaying the unpleasant qualities of too many literary ladies. Met Mr. Gibson the sculptor, who talked about robbers and assassins, with a graphic description of them and their victims, which was quite professional.”
“Feb. 22nd.—Went with Mrs. Jameson to the Vatican, walked through the sculpture galleries. The Braccio Nuovo contains a statue of Demosthenes in an attitude most earnest; there is no appearance of effort or art in the figure, and yet it is endowed with the earnest and sincere expression which an actor would seek to imitate. The coun1847.
“Walked with Mrs. Jameson into the Sistine chapel, to see Michael Angelo’s frescoes; the Last Judgment at one end, and the whole of the ceiling from his pencil. It is a deplorable misapplication of the time and talent of a man of genius to devote years to the painting of the ceiling of a chapel, at which one can only look by an effort that costs too much inconvenience to the neck to leave the mind at ease to enjoy the pleasure of the painting.... With all the enthusiasm of my fair companion, I could not feel much gratification at this celebrated work of art.
“At seven o’clock was presented to the Pope in his private cabinet, where I found him in a white flannel friar’s dress, sitting at a small writing-desk surrounded with papers. The approach to this little room was through several lofty and spacious apartments. The curtained doors and the long flowing robes of the attendants reminded me, oddly enough, of my interview with Mehemet Ali at Cairo. Pius IX. received me with a hearty and unaffected expression of pleasure at meeting one who had been concerned in a great and good work in England; commended my perseverance and the means by which the principle of Free Trade had been made to triumph; and he remarked that England was the only country where such triumphs were achieved by 1847.
“Feb. 23rd.—Dined with Count Rossi, the French Ambassador. A splendid banquet, at which the foreign ambassadors in Rome, including the Turkish envoy going to Vienna, were present. Looking round the table I saw represented, Italy, France, Germany, Russia, England, Turkey, and Syria, the latter by a bishop of the Maronites.”
“Feb. 24th.—We have been in Rome a month, have seen some of the wonders of the ancients, and have been overwhelmed with the kindness of friends, but I long for a quiet day or two in travelling over the Campagna, where the1847.
“Naples, Feb. 27th.—Left Rome Thursday morning, 25th February, at half-past eight, for Naples, by the new Appian Way, which leaves the old road of that name a little to the right on quitting the city, but falls into a few miles off. The course of this celebrated old road may be distinctly traced at a distance by the mounds and ruins of tombs and temples with which its sides are fringed. Snow fell as we passed out of Rome. The view of the Campagna, with the ruined aqueducts stretching across its desolate surface, presented a striking contrast to the luxurious and busy scene which we had but a few minutes before taken leave of within the city walls. These stately and graceful aqueducts are nearly the only ruins which excite feelings of regret, being perhaps the sole buildings which did not merit destruction by the crimes, the folly, and the injustice which attended their construction, or the purposes to which they were devoted.
“We are now in the territory of the King of the Two Sicilies, who can certainly boast of ruling over more beggars than any other sovereign. Mendicancy seems to be the profession of all the labouring people whenever they have an opportunity of practising it. No sooner is a traveller’s carriage seen than young and old pounce upon it; the peasant woman throws down her load that she may keep up with the vehicle, bawling out incessantly for charity; the boy who is watching the sheep, a field or two off, hurries 1847.
“March 4th.—Went with M. D’Azala to the Museum, first to see the room containing jewellery and ornaments, but did not think them generally in such good taste or so well executed as those I had seen in Campana’s collection of Etruscan works of a similar kind in Rome. Next to the rooms containing the articles in bronze, brought principally from Pompeii. Here I found specimens of all the common household utensils—lamps, jugs, pans, moulds for pastry, some of them in the form of shells, others of animals; scales and steelyards, mirrors, bells, articles for the toilet, including rouge; bread in loaves, with the name of the maker stamped on them, surgical instruments, cupping cups in bronze, locks, keys, hinges, tickets for the theatre; in fact, I was introduced to the mode of domestic every-day life amongst the ancients..... After seeing this portion of the Museum I came away without proceeding farther, preferring to mix up no other objects with my enjoyment to-day of certainly the most novel and interesting collection of curiosities I ever beheld.”
“Naples, March 6th.—At eleven o’clock went with Mr. Close to the palace to see the King by appointment; conversed for a short time with him upon Free Trade, about which he did not appear to be altogether ignorant or without some favourable sympathies. He questioned me about the future solution of the Irish difficulty, a question which seems to be uppermost in the minds of all statesmen and public men on the continent. The King is a stout and tall man, heavy looking, and of restricted capacity. I am told he is1847.
“March 16th.—I went to the Museum to see the collection of bronzes again whilst the houses from which they were taken in Pompeii were fresh in my memory. I was introduced to the members of the Academy of Science, who were holding an ordinary meeting in their room in the same building. A complimentary address to me was delivered by Sig. Mancini, and responded to by other members, and I thanked them briefly in French.”
“Turin, May 26th, 1847.—Had an interview with his Majesty Charles Albert, a very tall and dignified figure, with a sombre, but not unamiable expression of countenance; received me frankly; talked of railroads, machinery, agriculture, and similar practical questions. Said he hoped I was contented with what his Government had done in the application of my principles, and informed me that his ministry had resolved upon a further reduction of duties on iron, cotton, etc. He is said to have good intentions, but to want firmness of character.
“In the evening, Count Revel, minister of finance, came in, with whom I had a long discussion upon Free Trade, a sensible man. Speaking to Signor Cibrario upon the subject of the commerce of the middle ages in Italy, he said that the principle of protection or Colbertism was unknown; that, however, there were innumerable impediments to industry and internal commerce, owing to the corporations of trades and the custom-houses which surrounded every little state and almost every little city.”
“May 28th, 1847.—Went at eight o’clock in the morning to hear a lecture by Signor Scialoja, Professor of Political Economy at the University, a Neapolitan of considerable 1847.
“Milan, June 3rd.—Attended a meeting of La Societa d’Incoraggiamento of Milan. About 200 persons were present, consisting of members and their friends. A paper was read by Signor G. Sacchi upon the doctrine of Romagnosi (a Milanese writer) on free trade, in which he alluded in complimentary terms to my presence. Then Signor A. Mauri (the secretary) read an eulogistic address to me. After which Chevalier Maffei read a paper upon Milton, with a long translation from the first book of ‘Paradise Lost.’ In conclusion I delivered a short address in French, thanking the Society and recommending the study of political economy to the young men present. The meeting terminated with enthusiastic expressions of satisfaction. In the evening was entertained at a public dinner (the first ever held in Milan) by about eighty persons, including most of the leading literary men of the place, Signor G. Basevi, advocate, in the chair. This gentleman, who I was told is of the Jewish persuasion, had the moral courage to act as counsel in defence of Hofer the Tyrolese leader, when he was tried by a military commission at Mantua and sentenced to be shot. Not having before taken part in a similar demonstration, he was unacquainted with the mode of conducting a meeting. He began the toasts in the midst of the dinner, by proposing my health in an eloquent speech. Then followed three or four others who all proposed my health. Before the dinner was concluded, other orators, who had1847.
“Lake Como, June 7th.—Lounged away the morning over Madame D’Arblay’s Memoirs, and Lady C. Bury’s George IV. Heard also some gossip about the residents on the shores of the lake, not the most favourable to their morality. After dinner made an excursion to the town of Como, and saw the Cathedral.”
“Desenzano, June 9th.—Found Signor Salevi an intelligent and amiable man, his head and countenance striking; is writing a book upon prison reform, and a great promoter of infant schools, of which he says there are three well conducted in Brescia, and supported by voluntary contributions. Speaking about the proprietorship of land, which is in this neighbourhood very much divided, he expressed his surprise that England, so greatly in advance of Europe in other respects, should still preserve so much of the feudal system in respect to the law of real property. He thinks the law of succession, as established in the Code Napoleon, highly favourable to the mass of the people; that nothing gives dignity to a man, and developes his self-respect so effectually, as the ownership of property, however small. In Lombardy, as in Piedmont, one half the property is at the disposal of a father on his decease; the remainder is by law given equally amongst his children. I find everywhere on the continent, amongst all classes, the same unfavourable opinion of our law of primogeniture in England.”
“Venice, June 21st.—In the evening dined at a public entertainment 1847.
“Trieste, June 26th.—Left Venice this morning at six o’clock in the Austrian Lloyd’s steam-boat, a handsome, large, and clean vessel. It was low water, and as we came out of the port, through the tortuous channel which winds amongst the islands, it afforded a good view of the advantages which the Queen of the Adriatic possessed behind these intricate barriers. The view of the city at a few miles’ distance, with its palaces, towers, and domes, rising from the level of the water, and its low country at the back shut in by high mountains, is very magnificent. Reached Trieste at two o’clock. The coast hilly, and the town stands upon1847.
“Trieste, July 1st.—Dined at a public dinner given to me by about ninety of the principal merchants in the saloon of the theatre. M. Schläpfer, president of the Exchange Committee, in the chair. The speeches were delivered in the midst of the dinner. M. De Bruck, the projector and chief director of Austrian Lloyd’s spoke well. Signor Dell’ Ongaro, who is an Italian and a poet, read a speech, in which he made allusion to Italian nationality, which drew forth some hasty remarks from M. De Bruck, and led to a scene of some excitement. After dinner I persuaded them to shake hands. In speaking to the chairman during the dinner, he described the iron-masters in Styria as not having in a series of years realized much money, notwithstanding their being protected by heavy duties. Many of the nobility are interested in these furnaces; their businesses badly managed. He gives a still worse description of the cotton-spinners and manufacturers, who cling to the ways of their fathers, and do not improve their machinery, being very inferior to the Swiss; does not know of an instance of one of them retiring from business with a fortune, and few of them are rich in floating capital. A good band of an Austrian regiment performed during the dinner.”
“Vienna, July 7th.—Looked in to see the famous monumental tomb by Canova, an original and successful design. I think, however, this sculptor lived to enjoy the best of his fame, and that posterity will hardly preserve the warmth of enthusiasm for his genius that was felt by the generation in which he lived.”
“After leaving Prince Metternich, I called upon Baron Kübeck, minister of finance, a man of a totally different character from his chief. He is a simple, sincere, and straightforward man; expressed himself favourably to a relaxation of the protective system, but spoke of the difficulties which powerful interests put in his way; said that Dr. List had succeeded in misleading the public mind on the question of protection. A visit from Prince Esterhazy, who was upwards of twenty years ambassador in England; he remarked that diplomacy upon the old system was now mere humbug, for that the world was much too well informed upon all that was going on in every country to allow ambassadors to mystify matters.”
“Dresden, July 21st.—Called on M. Zeschau, the Saxon finance minister, an able, hard-working man, who also fills the office of minister for foreign affairs; tells me the land is much divided in Saxony, that the owner of an estate worth 60,000l. is deemed a large proprietor; the majority of the farmers 1847.
“Dresden, July 22nd.—Went with M. Krug to see the collection of jewels, and articles of carving, sculpture, etc. in the green vaults. Then to the royal library, and made the acquaintance of M. Falkenstein, the chief librarian, a learned and interesting man, who showed us a manuscript work by Luther, and some other curiosities. M. Falkenstein is acquainted with Hebrew, Greek, and Latin critically, is also learned in the Arabic, Persian, and Sclavonic languages, speaks French, German, English, Italian, etc.; his salary, as head librarian, having no one over him, is 150l., and he has a wife and six children! Speaking of Luther’s coarseness, he said that there are some of his letters in the library so grossly violent and abusive that they are unfit to be read in the presence of women. M. Falkenstein is the author of a life of Kosciusko, the Polish patriot, whom he knew when he was a boy at Soleure, in Switzerland, where the old warrior died. He described him as very amiable and charitable; he was accustomed to ride an old horse who was so used to the habit of his master of giving alms to beggars, that he would stop instinctively when he came near to a man in rags.... Saw in a shop-window to-day a silk handkerchief for sale, with my portrait engraved and my name attached.”
“Berlin, July 28th.—Went to Babelsberg, near Potsdam, at five in the afternoon, to visit the Prince of Prussia,1847.
“Met Baron Von Humboldt, a still sturdy little man, with a clear grey eye, born in 1769, and in his seventy-eighth year; tells me he allows himself only four to five hours’ sleep. He has a fine massive forehead, his manners are courtier-like, he lives in the palace of Sans Souci, near the King. He spoke highly of Jefferson, whom he knew intimately; remarked of Lord Brougham that, like Raphael, he had three manners, and that he had known him in his earliest and best manner. At dusk we entered the chateau, sat down at a large round table, and were served with a 1847.
“Berlin, July 29th.—Went with Mr. Howard to call upon Dr. Eichhorn, at present Minister of Public Instruction, but formerly in the department of trade, and who took an active part in the formation of the Zollverein, an able and enthusiastic man; he stated that the originators of the customs-union did not contemplate the establishment of a protective system; on the contrary, it was distinctly laid down that the duties on foreign goods should not as a rule exceed ten per cent. To the opera in the evening, and was introduced to M. Nothomb, the Belgian minister, a clever, ready man. M. Nothomb thinks the Corn Laws of Belgium will soon be abolished, and says, after the late calamities, arising from the scarcity of food, all Europe ought to unite in abolishing for ever every restriction on the corn trade; he thinks the next ministry in Belgium, although its head will probably be an ardent Free Trader, will be obliged to advance still further in the path of restriction; that the majority of the chambers is monopolist. ‘An absolute government may represent an idea, but elective legislatures represent interests.’ The enlightened ministers of Prussia are overruled by the clamours of the chambers of Wurtemberg, Bavaria, and Baden, the majorities of which are protectionist. He remarked that France stood in the way of European progress, for, so long as she maintained her prohibitive system, the other nations of the continent would be slow to adopt the principles of Free Trade.”
“Berlin, July 30th.—Went with Mr. Howard to call on M. Kuhne, one of the originators of the Zollverein. When Saxony joined it, she objected to the high duties which were payable upon foreign goods. Now the manufacturers of that country are wanting still higher protection; he is not of opinion that Hamburg will join the Zollverein; is not sanguine about effecting any reduction of the protec1847.
“Berlin, July 31st.—Several persons called in the morning. Went by railway to Potsdam to dine with the King at three o’clock at Sans Souci. About twenty-five to thirty persons sat down, nearly all in court costume, and most of them in military dresses. The King good-humoured and affable, very little ceremony, the dinner over at half past four, when the company walked in the garden. On coming away the King shook hands. In the evening attended a public dinner given to me by about 180 Free-traders of Berlin, the mayor of the city in the chair; he commenced the speaking at the second course, and it was kept up throughout the dinner, which was prolonged for nearly three hours. Two-thirds of the meeting appeared to understand my English speech, which was afterwards translated into 1847.
“Berlin, August 1st.—Baron Von Humboldt called, expressed in strong and courteous terms his disapproval of Lord Palmerston’s foreign policy in Portugal and Greece, especially of his demanding from the latter a peremptory payment of a paltry sum of money. I expressed my doubts if the Greeks were at present fitted for constitutional self-government, upon which he remarked that it was much easier for a nation to preserve its independence than its freedom.... Wrote a note to Dr. Asher declining his invitation to address a party of Free Traders, and expressing my determination not to interfere in the domestic concerns of Prussia.”
“Berlin, August 5th.—The Prussian law of 1818, and the tariff which followed it, form the foundation of the German Zollverein. The former system of Frederick the Great, and which had lasted for upwards of half a century, was one of the most prohibitive in respect to the importation of foreign goods ever enforced. The prohibition of the entrance of foreign manufactures, even of those of Saxony, was the rule. Yet the manufactures of Eastern Prussia1847.
“Stettin, August 7th.—Took leave of Kate this morning at the Hamburgh railway, and then started for Stettin at seven, in company with Mr. Swaine. The railway passes through a poor sandy country thinly peopled, and with light crops of grain. The exportation of corn was prohibited this year from Prussia, also of potatoes in May; one of the ministers stated in the Diet publicly that the latter measure could be of no use, inasmuch as at that time, no potatoes could be sent out of the country with advantage, but advocating the law on the plea that it was necessary to tranquillize the people; the use of potatoes was also interdicted in distilleries for three months, by which the food for cattle (the residue of the potatoes) was curtailed, and caused great embarrassment to the proprietors.... In the evening dined with about eighty or ninety persons, who assembled at a day’s notice to meet me; the company sat at dinner for nearly four hours; speeches between each course; the orators launched freely into politics.”
“Stettin, August 8th.—The Baltic ports are in no way benefited by the manufacturing interests of the south and the Rhenish provinces, and they are directly sacrificed by the protective system. The few furnaces for making iron in Silesia, and those on the Rhine, have imposed a tax upon the whole community, by laying a duty of 20s. a ton upon 1847.
“Dantzic, August 10th, 1847.—.... Dined with about fifty of the merchants. Nearly all appeared to understand English, several speakers, all in English, excepting one. There are about five or six British merchants only here—mostly Scotch. Dantzic is thoroughly English in its sympathies.”
“Tauroggen, Russia, August 13th.—Left Königsberg at seven o’clock this morning in an extra post courier in company with one of Mr. Adelson’s clerks, whom he kindly sent with me across the Russian frontier.
“My companion, who is a Pole and a Russian subject, and, as he terms himself, an Israelite, gives me a poor picture of the character of the Polish nobility. Making a comparison between them and the Russians, he remarked that the latter are barbarians, but the former are civilized scamps; there is some respect for truth in the Russian, but none in the Pole. Crossed the Niemen at Tilsit; were detained upon the bridge of boats for half an hour whilst several long rafts of timber passed; the men who were upon them, and who live for months upon the voyage down1847.
Riga, Aug. 16th.—“The distance from Tauroggen to Riga is about 220 versts, or about 160 miles, which are accomplished in eighteen hours exactly, at an expense of 42s. The country generally a plain as far as the eye can reach, with here and there only some slight undulations, mostly a light soil and sandy, but everywhere capable of cultivation. Large tracts covered with forests of fir, interspersed with oak, birch, etc., with patches here and there of cultivated land. The country very thinly peopled; the villages consist of a few wooden houses thatched; scarcely saw a stone or brick house. The villages through which we passed on the high road on the beginning of our journey were generally peopled with Jews, a dirty, idle-looking people, the men wearing long robes with a girdle, and the women often with turbans, the men also wearing the long beard. These wretched beings creep about their wretched villages, or glance suspiciously out of their doors, as if they had a suspicion of some danger at every step. They never work with their hands in the fields or on the roads excepting to avert actual starvation.”
“St. Petersburgh, Aug. 20th.—Called on Count Nesselrode, the Foreign Minister, a polite little man of sixty-five, with a profusion of smiles. Like Metternich, he strikes me more as 1847.
“St. Petersburgh, Aug. 21st.—Went at six o’clock, in company with Colonel Townsend, Captain Little, and another, to see the grand parade, about twenty-five versts from St. Petersburgh. The emperor, the finest man in the field; the empress, a very emaciated, care-worn person, resembling in her melancholy expression the Queen of the French. It is remarkable that two of the most unhappy and suffering countenances, and the most attenuated frames I have seen on the continent, are those of these two royal personages, the wives of the greatest sovereigns of the continent, who have accidentally ascended thrones to which they were not claimants by the right of succession; yet these victims of anxiety are envied as the favourites of fortune.”
“Moscow, Aug. 25th.—Started from St. Petersburgh on Sunday morning, at seven, and reached this place at six this morning. During the first day, passed through several villages built entirely of wood, generally of logs laid horizontally upon each other; some of these are not without efforts at refinement, being ornamented with rude carved work, and the fronts sometimes gaudily painted. Many of the houses appeared quite new, and others were in the course of erection; it being Sunday, the inhabitants were in their best clothes; work seemed everywhere suspended. There appears a great traffic between the old and new metropolis, both in merchandise and passengers; mail coaches, diligences, and private carriages, very numerous. The face of the country flat and monotonous; a strip of cultivated land, growing rye, oats, etc., runs generally along the roadside, and beyond, the eye rests upon the eternal pine forests. The inns at the1847.
“Moscow, August 25th.—After a couple of hours’ sleep in a clean and comfortable bed at Howard’s English lodging-house, I sallied out alone for a stroll of an hour or two. This city surprises me; I was not prepared for so interesting and unique a spectacle. One might fancy himself in Bagdad or Grenada a thousand years ago. The people are more Asiatic in their appearance and dress than at St. Petersburgh, and also more superstitious, I should say, judging from the ceremonials of bowing and crossing which I see going on at every church door, and opposite to every little picture of the Virgin. Everywhere struck with astonishment at the novel and beautiful features of this picturesque city of the Czars.”
“Nishni Novogorod, August 27th.—Left Moscow at half-past seven on Wednesday evening in the same carriage by which I had come from St. Petersburgh. It was dusk when I passed beyond the suburbs of the widely extended city of upwards of 300,000 souls. The next morning’s light revealed the same scenery as that through which I had passed previously; the country so flat and the view so constantly bounded with straight lines of fir forests, that I was frequently under the illusion that the ocean was visible in the distant horizon..... Reached Nishni Novogorod at six o’clock this evening, and passed through a long 1847.
“Nishni Novogorod, August 28th.—The Bokhara caravan arrived yesterday, bringing about a thousand hundredweight of cotton from Asia, of a short staple like our Surats, with skins, common prints, dressing-gowns of silk and other articles. I visited three merchants, some of them handsome swarthy men; their goods were brought upon camels as far as Orenberg; the journey from Bokhara to Nishni occupies about three months. This caravan had been stopped by a tribe of the Kirghese. One of these men, a knowing, talkative fellow, had been in London and picked up a few words of English. In the evening dined and took tea with Baron A. de Meyendorff, and met Baronoff, the great printer and manufacturer, an energetic and sensible man.... He has taken some land on lease in the territory of the Khan of Khiva for growing madder for his print works; he says that the madder he gets from Asia is cheaper than that which he formerly got from France and Holland, in the proportion of two and a half to one.”
“Moscow, Aug. 31st.—Found my companion a man of1847.
“.... The Emperor and the higher functionaries of the government are anxious for good administration, and they are all enlightened and able men, but the subordinates or bureaucracy are generally a corrupt or ignorant body. There are three or four grave difficulties for the future—the emancipation of the serfs—the religious tone, which is one of mere unmeaning formalities, and which, if not adapted to the progress of ideas, will become a cause of infidelity on the one hand, and blind bigotry on the other—the tiers-état, comprising the freed serfs, the manufacturers, and the bureaucracy: all these are elements tending to dangerous collisions of opinion for the future, unless gradually provided against by the Government.
“.... At Bogorodsk we paid a visit to the halting-station of prisoners who are on their way from Moscow to Siberia; upwards of twenty were lying upon wooden benches, their heads resting upon bundles of clothes. Baron Meyendorff questioned them as to the cause of their banishment; three confessed that theirs was murder, and another coining: several were for smaller offences; the latter were not ironed like the greater criminals. One man said he was exiled because he had no passport, which meant that he was a vagabond. One man was recognized by the Baron as having been a servant in a nobleman’s family which he was acquainted with, and he stated, in answer to the inquiry, that he was sent to Siberia because he was ill-tempered to his owner and master; this man, like all the rest, seemed to be in a state of mental resignation quite oriental. ‘If God has allowed me to be banished, I suppose I deserve 1847.
“.... On leaving the mill, a few steps brought me into the midst of the agricultural operations in the neighbourhood and what a contrast did the implements of husbandry present to the masterpieces of machinery which I had just been inspecting! The ploughs were constructed upon the model of those in use a thousand years ago; the scythes and reaping-hooks might have been the implements of the ancient Scythians; the spades in the hands of the peasants were either entirely of wood or merely tipped with iron; the fields were yielding scarcely a third of the crop of grain which an English farmer would derive from similar land; there was no science traceable in the manuring or cropping of the land, no intelligence in the improving of the breed of the cattle, and I could not help asking myself by what perversity of judgment an agricultural people could be led to borrow from England its newest discoveries in machinery for spinning cotton, and to reject the lessons which it offered for the improvement of that industry upon which the wealth and strength of the Russian empire so pre-eminently depend.
“.... Baron Meyendorff tells me that an association of merchants proposes to export a cargo of Russian manu1847.
“St. Petersburgh, Sept. 7th.—Some time ago a Yankee adventurer asked permission to establish a hunting-station on the North American territory belonging to Russia, but it was refused. A year or two after this occurred, Baron Meyendorff happened to be calling upon his friend the home minister, who, putting a letter into his hand, remarked, ‘Here is something to amuse you; it has occasioned me half an hour’s incessant laughter.’ It was a despatch from the governor of Irkutsk, describing in pompous language 1847.
“St. Petersburgh, Sept. 11th.—.... Dined at the English club, and met a party of Russians; they rise from table as soon as they have swallowed their dinner, and proceed to the card-table, billiards, or skittles. There is no intellectual society, no topic of general interest is discussed—an un-idea’d party. My table companions, the English merchants, were of opinion that extensive smuggling is carried on, particularly in sugar; they spoke freely of the corruption of the employés, and the general propensity to live beyond their means. One of them mentioned an anecdote of the corruption of the government employés. He had a contract with one of the departments for a quantity of lignum vita at eight roubles a pood; upon its being delivered it was pronounced inferior, and rejected after1847.
“St. Petersburgh, Sept. 12th.—Went in the morning to the Kasan Cathedral, where I found a full congregation, two-thirds at least being men. Went with Mr. Edwards by railway to see the horse-races at Tsarskoe Selo; a large proportion of the persons who went by the train were English. The emperor and his family and a good muster of fashionables were present on the course, but the amusements wanted life and animation, which nothing but a mass of people capable of feeling and expressing an interest in the sports of the day can present. Afterwards went to the Vauxhall of Petersburgh to dine. An Englishman accosted me in a broad Devonshire 1847.
“St. Petersburgh, Sept. 13th.—Mr. Edwards, attaché to the English ministry, mentioned an anecdote illustrative of the inordinate self-complacency of my countrymen. They complained to him that at the Commercial Association, a kind of club consisting of natives and English, the air of ‘Rule Britannia’ had been hissed by the Russians; they were discomposed at the idea of foreigners being averse to the naval domination of England!”
“St. Petersburgh, Sept. 15th.—Paid a visit to the Minister of Finance; he invited me to speak to him frankly as to my opinions on the manufactures of Russia, and I profited by the opportunity of making a Free Trade speech to him of half an hour’s length. He was reported to me as an incompetent, ignorant man, but he has at least the merit of being willing to learn; he listened like a man of good common sense, and his observations were very much to the point. M. de Boutowsky called, who has written a work upon political economy and in favour of Free Trade, in the Russian language. In the course of the conversation he remarked that Peter the Great commenced the system of regulating and interfering with trade and manufactures in Russia. Another instance added to those of Cromwell, Frederick the Great, Louis XIV., Napoleon, and Mehemet Ali, showing that warriors and despots are generally bad economists, and that they instinctively carry their ideas of force and violence into1847.
Dined with Count Nesselrode, and sat beside Count Kisseleff, one of the ablest of the ministers, having the direction of the public domains. After dinner, other persons of rank joined us in the drawing-room, and we had a lively discussion upon Free Trade. Count Kisseleff talked freely and without much knowledge of the question, whilst Nesselrode sat quietly with the rest of the company listening to the controversy. My opponents were moderate in their pretensions, and made a stand only for the protection of industries in their infancy. All parties threw overboard cotton-spinning as an exotic which ought not to be encouraged in Russia. A Free Trade debate in Nesselrode’s drawing-room must at least have been a novelty.”
“St. Petersburgh, Sept. 23rd.—Called by invitation upon Prince Oldenburgh, cousin of the Emperor, a man of amiable and intelligent mind, a patron of schools and charities. He spoke with affection and admiration of England, of its people, their religous and moral character, their public spirit and domestic virtues. Speaking of Russia, he said that its two greatest evils were corruption and drunkenness. Was entertained at a public dinner by about two hundred merchants and others at the establishment of mineral waters in one of the islands; a fine hall, prettily decorated, and with a band of music in an adjoining room. After I had spoken, an Englishman named Hodgson, manager of Loader’s spinning-mill, who was formerly a Radical orator 1847.
“Lubeck, Sept. 29th.—Left Cronstadt at two o’clock on Sunday morning, 26th, by the ‘Nicolai’ steamer, and after a favourable passage without adventures of any kind reached Travenmunde at eight o’clock this morning. My head was too much disturbed by the sea voyage to be fit for numerous introductions, so after breakfasting and resting a few hours, I proceeded in company with our Consul, who had been so good as to come down to meet me, to Lubeck, a pleasant drive of nine miles.”
“Lubeck, Sept. 30th.—Captain Stanley Carr called; he has a large estate about four miles distant, which he has occupied for twenty years, and cultivates with great success upon the English system. He has a thousand acres under the plough, a small steam-engine for thrashing, and all the best implements. He says he employs three times as many people as were at work upon the land before he bought it; he raises four times as much produce; has drained and subsoiled the farm; sells his better and cattle at twenty-five per cent. higher prices than his neighbours. Speaking of his visit to Bohemia, where he spent three months of last year, he said the agriculture was in a very wretched state. The peasants were without capital, and the corvée system prevailed, by which the landlord’s land was cultivated so badly by the peasantry that he would not accept an estate1847.
“Hamburgh, Oct. 5th, 1847.—In the evening dined with about seven hundred persons at a Free Trade banquet; Mr. Ruperti in the chair. Sat down at half-past five, and the dinner and speeches lasted till ten. The speakers were free in the range of their topics, advocated the freedom of the press, quizzed the regulations of the city of Hamburgh, and turned into ridicule the Congress of Vienna and the Germanic diet.”
To J. Parkes, Dec. 28, 1856.
Richard Cobden, “Notes sur ses Voyages,” etc. Par Mdme. Salis Schwabe. Paris: Guillaumin, 1879.
The common report that O’Connell intended to quit England and close his days at Rome was untrue: on the contrary, his own inclination was to stay at Derrynane, and the Journey to Italy was only undertaken at the urgent solicitation of his friends. He was conscious up to the moment of his death.
By his diligent use of this opportunity Cobden succeeded in acquiring a really good command over the French language for colloquial and other purposes.
Mr. And Mrs. Schwabe.
Sergent is commonly credited with a leading share in the organization and direction of the September Massacres in 1792; on the other hand he is supposed to have saved several victims from the guillotine. Louis Philippe, who had been his colleague in the Jacobin Club, gave him a pension of 1800 france.
“Although disposed to be grateful for their public banquets of which I have had upwards of a dozen in Italy, besides private parties without number, yet I can see other motives besides compliments to me in their meetings. In the first place the old spirit of rivalry has been at work amongst the different towns. But secondly, the Italian Liberals have seized upon my presence as an excuse for holding a meeting on a public question, to make speeches and offer toasts, often for the first time. They consider this a step gained, and so it is. And I have been sometimes surprised that the government have allowed it. In Austrian Italy such demonstrations are quite unprecedented.”—Cobden to George Combe, June, 1847.
The present Emperor of Germany.