American Mind

Image from Impressions of Niagra

AMERICAN MIND.

[The following complimentary tribute to the active intellect of our country, is from the pen of Lady EMMELINE STUART WORTLEY, and was written since her recent tour through the Northern States.]

Wand’rers! whose feet, like mine, ne’r press’d before
This proud, magnificiently – various shore —
Wand’rers! who speed from many a distant zone
To gaze on Nature’s transatlantic throne —
Ne’er lightly view the thousand scenes sublime
Of great America’s resplendant clime,
But still, in thoughtful mood’s observant care,
Weigh well the many mingling glories there,
Since all the loftier wonders of the land
Are most admired — when best ye understand!
It’s a gracious study for the soul,
As, part by part, the Heav’n stamp’d leaves unroll; —
Not only all-majestic Nature here
Speaks to each kindling thought, but far and near
A large and mighty meaning seems to lurk,
A glorious mind is every where at work !
A bold, grand spirit rules and reigns around,
And sanctifies the common air and ground ;
And glorifies the lowliest herb and stone
With conscious tints and touches of its own ;
A spirit ever flashing back the sun,
That scorns each prize while aught is to be won ;
More boundless than the prairie’s wondrous sweep,
Or the old Atlantic’s long resounding deep,
And more luxuriant than the forest’s crowd
Of patriarch trees, by weightiest foliage bow’d —
More rich than California’s teeming mould,
Whose hoarded sunbeams laugh to living gold —
More soaring far than the immemorial hills —
More fresh and flowing than their streams and rills —
That mind of quenchless energy and power,
Which springs from strength to strength, hour after hour —
Man’s glorious mind in its most glorious mood,
That seems for aye, on every side to brood,
In this empurpled and exultant land,
So gladly bow’d beneath its bright command —
Man’s glorious mind on its most glorious march —
High spinning earth, like Heav’n’s own rainbow arch.
That soul,  that mind, ’tis every where reveal’d!
It crowns the steep, it gilds the cultured field,
It charms the wild, and paves the rushing stream,
And scarce allows the sun a vagrant beam;
It tames the rugged soil of rocks, and flings
From seas to seas the shadow of its wings,
(And Time and Space in that great shadow rest,
And watch to serve their ruler-sons’ behest.)
And still its growing, gathering influence spreads,
And still abroad its own great life it sheds
O’er mount and lake, o’er cataract, field and flood,
O’er rock, and cave, and isle, o’er plain and wood,
It lives, it lightens, and in might inspires
Each separate scene with fresh creative fires.
Where’er it moves a Wondering World awakes,
And still all nature’s face its likeness takes;
It quickens s—, and kindles and pervades
Her startled deserts and receding shades,
Her mightiest solitudes and paths unknown,
Her hidden shrines and well-springs pure and lone —
Hung — as The Heavens are hung above them all,
And holding their sublimest powers in thrall !

Tioga Eagle (Wellsboro, Pennsylvania) Dec 5, 1849

*This version is slightly different than the one found online. Maybe it had been reworked after this was first published.

The real traveler is born, not made. The urge to wander is close kin to that which drives the explorer out beyond the end of the trail and like it gives peace and rest only in assailing action. There is something terrifying to the homekeeping about the genuine traveler, and woe unto such as falls under his domination to be dragged everywhere and nowhere, only to be turned about and started elsewhere. The species is usually masculine, regardless of sex, and when the wanderer chances to be a woman there is likely to be a rare excellence about the accomplishments, the spirit in the doing, and especially about the records kept for the timid at home. Such is the case with Lady Emmeline Stuart-Wortley and her narratives of American, Spanish and Syrian journeys.

It was in the spring of the year 1849 that Lady Emmeline and her daughter Victoria set out for America to begin the travels here described. The mother was the second daughter of John Henry, fifth Duke of Rutland, and the widow of Charles Stuart-Wortley, second son of the first Lord Warncliffe. The daughter was soon to become one of Queen Victoria’s maids of honor. The one was already a confirmed traveler, at home in Russia, Holland, Italy and the Near East; the other was a child of twelve years whose goings and comings were shaped by a will not her own. A notable and interesting pair to view America at the end of that Fabulous Forties.

They landed in New York after a passage of eleven days, took one glance at the “ever teeming, tumultuous Broadway,” and then hurried toward Niagra Falls, the mecca of all Europeans in those days. This was the beginning of an itinerary that led along the eastern coast from Boston to Washington, turned westward down the Ohio to St. Louis and southward on the tawny Mississippi to New Orleans; a few days in Mobile, a few more at the capital of Mexico, a turning back to Havana and then into the flood that ran gold-thirsty across the Isthmus toward California. They did not enter the land of gold, but went down to Peru as the farthest point of interest before retracing their steps to Jamaica and back to old world wanderings in Spain and Syria.

The original letters from which Mrs. Cust has constructed the American portion of her narrative have long been in print. They were first published in 1851 under the title “Travels in the United States,” and were gratefully received by a self-conscious people hungry for commendation. A few bits from the younger traveler, however, have been added and the whole woven into a running story heavily sprinkled with quotations from the “diaries, letters and published books.” Strange to say, the original charm has not been lost in the process. Mrs. Cust has selected well to preserve the best comments on the American scene, and in the added narratives on Spain and Syria she has given us a chance to follow these delightful observers still farther.

The main interest of the American reader probably will be in the keen observations made on our means of travel, our thriving cities and our ways of life in those spacious days of national youth. Few salient features escaped them. The floating palaces on the rivers which, under driving competition, carried passengers for less than one-sixth of a penny per mile, the tow-boats almost hidden by the freighted crafts they propeller, the wrecked steamboats, product of collision and explosion, all told buoyant, careless material growth and the attendant growing pains. Yet amid such hurry the railway trains checked speed to allow a lady to cross the tracks and stopped entirely to allow a worried bridegroom to go back to seek the lost bride.

“Eager and go-ahead as they are,” burst out the good lady, “the Americans are the most philosophically patient travelers in the world.”

The cities showed startling evidences of too rapid growth. New York seemed  “a vortex of sound and fury,” Boston a “strange chaos of commerce” where great ships leaned “as if tired” against crowding warehouses; Washington, filled with Negroes and pigs, “would be a beautiful city if it were built”; St. Louis, recently swept by fire and disease, was rising so rapidly that buildings seemed every morning to be about a story higher than when left the preceding night, and New Orleans, smothered with cotton, had a touch of “Spanish grace and Parisian fashion” mingled with an American push and energy manifest at wharf and slave market.

The trip across the Isthmus gave opportunity to see the gulf rush. Dauntless men, fighting river, jungle, disease and passion, yet ever cheerful with their “Ho! for California”; yet something about them seemed to indicate that they went to build a civilization more than to find gold. A royal lady, meanwhile, holding her own with them!

These are [examples?] of American customs — mixed bathing at the beaches, the use of iced drinks, anti-foreign sentiments, etc. — that round out the picture and give the work historical value. And there are, of course, the equally entertaining narratives of journeys in Spain and Syria for those who wish to follow a genuine traveler back to the old world. It is a book worth reading for pleasure or for information.

(“Wanderers,” by Mrs. Henry Cust; New York Coward-McCann)

Oakland Tribune (Oakland, California) Feb 17, 1929

Title: Travels in the United States, etc: during 1849 and 1850
Author: Lady Emmeline Stuart-Wortley
Publisher: Harper & brothers, 1851
(Google ebook LINK)

*I didn’t find the Wanderers  version by Cust online.

PAST AWAY.

In looking over the list of our Contributors for the past year, in order to count our strength in the present, we find that death has taken one the number, whose last contribution to the pages of this work was written from Marsailles, prelusive of those wanderings in the East which have ended so fatally. We allude to the death of Lady Emmeline Stuart-Wortley, whose poems and lively prose sketches so frequently appeared in these pages. Her Ladyship’s death was characteristic of her active energetic nature. In May last, whilst riding in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem, Lady Emmeline had the misfortune to have her leg fractured by the kick of a mule. Notwithstanding the weakened state of her Ladyship’s constitution, she persisted in undertaking the journey from Beyrout to Aleppo, returning by an unfrequented road across the Lebanon. Lady Emmeline reached Beyrout on the 26th of October; but, in spite of the unremitting attention of Dr. Saquet, the French government physician, and two other medical gentlemen, her frame was so weakened and exhausted by the excessive fatigue of the journey, that she gradually sunk and expired on the night of the 29th. Her Ladyship was an authoress of repute, and had probably traveled more than any other lady of her distinguished birth. A daughter of the present Duke of Rutland, her Ladyship married, in 1831, the Hon. Charles Stuart-Wortley (brother of the late Lord Wharncliffe), who died in 1844. Generous, kindly, and genial, she will be long remembered and regretted by those who had the pleasure of knowing her.

Title: THE LADIES’ COMPANION AND MONTHLY MAGAZINE VOL IX
Published: 1856
Page 41

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