[ manuscript; Lord Morpeth in North America, 1841-1842 ] Collection of family transcriptions of letters from Viscount Morpeth whe visiting the USA

Author: 
[ Viscount Morpeth, 7th Earl of Carlisle ]
Publication details: 
1841-2
£1,125.00
SKU: 20326

The present collection presents the shrewd impressions of 1840s North America (preceding Dickens' visit in 1842) of a highly educated and cultured British aristocrat, a poet who exchanged sonnets with Wordsworth (one letter contains a lukewarm critique of the 'Excursion' of 'dear Wordsworth', which Morpeth has found time to read on his trip, and another contains a six-line original poem by Morpeth, later published by his sisters as 'Indian Names'), and the letters record his impressions of the American literary and social scene and his favourable response to the continent's scenery. Among the topics are A two-day meeting at Kinderhook with President Van Buren; 'crowded balls' in New York; His high opinion of the historian William H. Prescott, with whom he argues about Unitarianism; The 'new faith' Transcendalism' and 'gibberish & blasphemy' of 'Mr. Emerson', meetings with the Unitarian preacher William Ellery Channing, dinners with the judges James Kent and Joseph Story, A visit to 'an Encampment of almost 6000 Indians' on the ' Manitoulin Islands in Lake Huron', the beauties of Niagara and Quebec.The Whig politician George William Frederick Howard, 7th Earl of Carlisle (1802-1864), who was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland from 1855 to 1858, held the courtesy title Lord Morpeth (strictly speaking Viscount Morpeth) between 1825 and 1848. As his entry in the Oxford DNB explains, Morpeth had been returned for the West Riding in three elections, and had been Chief Secretary for Ireland in Melbourne's ministry between 1835 and 1841, but was narrowly defeated in the general election of July 1841, and with the Whigs out of office, spent a year in North America. For further information on Morpeth, see D. D. Olien, Morpeth: a Victorian public career (1983); B. Hilton, 'Whiggery, religion and social reform: the case of Lord Morpeth', HJ, 37 (1994); Extracts from journals kept by George Howard, earl of Carlisle: selected by his sister, ed. C. Lascelles (privately printed, London, 1864). See also "Memoir and Letters of Charles Sumner", Sumner being on friendly terms with Morpeth.Despite the great interest of the letters, they are unpublished, and the librarian at Castle Howard, while noting the existence of a journal kept by Howard at the time of his American trip, states that "[she] can confirm that we do not hold the letters sent by George Howard during his visit to North America in 1841 survive among his papers". The present collection of transcriptions of nine long letters is presumably the result of a collaborative effort by Morpeth's large family. (He was the fifth of the twelve children of the 6th Earl and his wife Georgiana, daughter of the 5th Duke of Devonshire.) The letters are all addressed to 'My dearest M.', i.e. his elder sister Mary Matilda Georgiana Howard (d.1892), who in 1852 became Lady Taunton. The various bifoliums and single leaves present here are written in a variety of hands, evidently to provide a copy for ease of distribution.The nine letters, of which four are incomplete, total 64pp., 4to. In good condition, on lightly aged and worn paper.ONE: Begun on board ship, on 15 October 1841; ended, on arrival at Boston, on 24 October. Incomplete: 17pp paginated from 8-20, but lacking pp.5-7. The letter begins, with his ship 'about 1800 miles from Liverpool': 'My dearest M. | Here is an immense experiment I make on the 10th. Day of our voyage to write | I had fondly hoped to keep something of a journal, which now appears to me a feat only second to those of Jason and Columbus.' References to 'Miss Sedgwick', 'the redoubted Christopher Hughes', 'Ld Fitzgerald', and containing his first impressions of America.TWO: Genese [i.e. on the Genesee River, New York], 7 to 10 November [1841]. 14pp. Describing his activities since leaving Boston with 'Sumner' on 26 October. He has travelled to Albany, Trenton Falls, Utica, New York ('They call it here Empire State'.), Rochester, the Niagara Falls. At one point he writes an original poem, and explains its context (the poem would be published posthumously by his sisters as 'Indian Names', and dated November 1841, in an edition of his poems published in 1869): 'We passed that afternoon through two other small towns, each on its separate lake, Geneva & Cananduaiga [sic, for Canandaigua] You will perceive that we have come into a region where they have rather dropped the classical for the Indian names & they are beginning to preserve the latter much more generally, which is a symptom of improving taste, for they are not only far more appropriate of course, but commonly more harmonious. I wanted to try how they would sound in verse: | Thine were my thoughts by broad Ontario's side | And the soft ripple of Cayuga's tide; | Thy voice came whisper'd in the solemn breeze | That rustled thro' Oneida's waste of trees; | Thy image rose on Erie's peopled shore, | And mid Niagara's eternal roar. | […] I cannot help thinking that there is something very poetical in the present condition of America, not in its specific details, they are the reverse, but in the general tendency. What can be more fresh or stirring than all this life and energy that are welling up in the desert? It has occasionally the sort of effect of taking away one's breath, a mixture of the Iliad & a Harlequin Farce.' With three-page copy, in another hand, of the first part of the letter.THREE: Hudson, 17 November [1841]; and [New York,] 23 November [1841]. 7pp. Unsigned. In the first part of the letter, written 17 November 1841, he writes that he has been staying with the Wadsworths ('Young Mrs. W. is very handsome, but not I thought so pleasing as the daughter Lizzy.') in Albany, 'which covers a sloping rather steep bank to the Hudson: parts of the lower town are picturesque with old Dutch Houses: in the upper part the streets are broad, have trees planted about them, & the pubic buildings are spacious and of white marble, but in none of them is the architecture quite satisfactory. Some of the domes look very bright with the covering, & one is gilt.' While there he is approached by a son of Martin Van Buren (1782-1862), 8th President of the United States, who had left office only a few months before: 'My acquaintance John Van Buren [(1810-1866)] immediately came to me & expressed great regret that he was obliged to set off immediately for New York but he commended me to his brother in law Mr. Vanderpoel [a brother of his brother John's wife Elizabeth] & made me promise to go to his Father's on Monday'. One Sunday Vanderpoel takes Morpeth 'to the Dutch Reformed Church in the morning […] which was natural in him, but he made good what he promised, a most excellent Sermon on our Saviour & the Penitent Thief'. Morpeth also calls 'upon the Governor of the State Mr. Seward, & he made me come again in the evening. His party, the Whigs, have been entirely smashed at the late Elections. […] They carried every thing before them last year & ejected Mr Van Buren, who was a candidate for a second time for the Presidency. The reverse has been complete, & it is fully expected that he will now be re elected at the next election 3 years hence, […] This made it seem a propitious time for my visit, & I was curious to see him, as I had heard the most opposite opinions, & extremely pronounced upon both sides about him. Mr. Vanderpoel and a brother in law took me to Mr. Van Buren's place at Kinderhook., 24 miles from Albany on Monday morning. I stayed there two nights & left him to day. He was extremely courteous, & I must say very agreeable, talking with the utmost apparent frankness & unreserve about all their politics & all their public men living and dead, many if the anecdotes & details did them it must be confessed no great credit. He has pictures of Jefferson, & Genl. Jackson the 2 great objects of his devotion, & large prints of the Queen and the Duke of Cleveland. The great draw back to his pleasantness is his indistinctness of utterance which makes it a great <?> to hear him[.] his manners are & plausible, the countenance rather resembling the fox, & on the whole I am inclined to lean to the opinion which assigns the same tendency to his character. We had the talk pretty much to ourselves, as there was nobody staying with him but a very silent niece & a silent Son. We took a very pretty ride together to the "Falls" & a very fine view of the valley of the Hudson. His house will be made comfortable: he is now enacting a sort of Cincinnatus part, occupying himself with his farm, but he will evidently feel no reluctance when summoned again from his plough.' Morpeth reports that Van Buren had 'formed a very high estimate of [Sir Robert] P[ee]ls. Sagacity, but he wonders why any Prime Minister takes Sir J[ames]. G[raha]m. into his Cabinet [as Home Secretary]. He praised our Mr. <?> Fox very much.' In the second part of the letter, written from New York, 23 November 1841, he makes 'the famed passage down the H[udson] to New York'. At the end of the letter he describes a meeting with the jurist James Kent (1763-1847), author of the celebrated 'Commentaries on American Law' (1826): 'I sat yesterday at dinner by an old retired judge chancellor Kent of high repute. I found him a great Tory here & a bit of a Tory on our side'.FOUR: New York, 29 November 1841. 4pp. He has 'not had time since I came here even to breath [sic]', but 'must just say a word of thanks to you, my beloved parents and sisters for the delightful batch of letters'. He finds 'the better society' in New York 'very easy, pleasant, and unpretending; I have been to 3 balls which I find pretty much the same abomination as rather small crowded balls are in any capital, the ladies are dressed and the houses furnished in very close imitation of Paris; many of the first are very pretty, and it is impossible to see anyone with more grace of countenance and manner than Livingston.' There are references to 'the inevitable Hughes', '"the Yorkshireman tonight"', 'M de Bacourt, who is now minister from France', 'Dr Hawkes', 'L[ad]y. Campbell, 'Mr. Hodgson'. He is preparing to leave New York, and looking 'forward with satisfaction to the greater sobriety' of Boston.FIVE: Boston, 26 December 1841. 6pp. Includes accounts of two leading American authors, Prescott and Emerson: 'I need not tell you that the idea of you all was very present with me yesterday both at the sacred table, & in the eve[nin]g over Miss P<?>'s turkey & mince pie, & afterwards at a little childs ball at Mary Otis's, where I was guilty of two Quadrilles, & wore for the 1st time your peacock waistcoat, which produced a great effect, tho' for the most part American ladies would scruple in observing upon any such article of attire. It even struck the dismal eyes of Prescott. I have seen a good deal of him since I wrote, & I do not think I deceive myself in the very high place I assign to him in every mode of attractiveness. I think I never knew such an union of simplicity, sense, gaiety & feeling. I cannot help grudging what I feel to be one drawback; he is, according to the prevailing mode of this place, an Unitarian, which has led to some little talk between us on the subject. One gets however to look upon them here, as almost orthodox, as there is now rather in vogue a new faith called Transcendentalism, of which Mr. Emerson is the head: he gives lectures which are being much attended, but which by the accounts seem made up of gibberish & blasphemy: it seems to me that I mentioned him to you before. They tell of his going one night with a lady disciple to see Mdelle Esler (whom by the way I did not happen to go to see at my first arrival, as I see recorded in the English papers,) at one more than usual licence, the fair exclaimed ["]that is poetry.["] There came a still bolder bound "that is religion["] rejoined Mr. Emerson'.SIX: [December 1841] Last part of a letter. 4pp. Breaks in: '[…] an excess of faith in the future good & righting of the world. […]' References to 'Dr. Channing', i.e. the Unitarian preacher William Ellery Channing (1780-1842), including 'I am tomorrow to meet at Dr. Channings Maria Chapman, who is arriving to give him an account of a visit she has just made to ', 'the review of Hastings', 'pretty little Mrs Okey [sic, for 'Oakey'], who had been the widow of Newton the painter [Gilbert Stuart Newton (1795-1835)]' and 'Judge Story [i.e. Joseph Story (1799-1845)]', with whom he has dined: 'I met some pleasant people there which however signifies less, as the Judge never intermits a single moment, but as it is an agreeable easy flow, & it is quite apparent that he would even like other people to talk only that he cannot stop, it excites no grudge. Almost all the letters Society here are very conservative on American politics, and great croakers about the making of their Govt. there is an exception in Mr. Bancroft [the historian George Bancroft (1800-1891)] who has published part of a History of America with whom I am to dine in a day or two.' Ends: 'I like Mr Prescott more and more.' Postscript: 'The best and brightest wishes for 42 to you all; I suppose this will find it about beginning.'SEVEN: Kingston, 17 July 1842. 4pp. Containing his favourable impression of Quebec, where he visits 'Mrs. Patterson' ('The Pattersons & all other timber merchants bewail themselves over Sir Roberts Tariff.'). On 23 July 1842 he is to dine 'with the Vice Chancellor of the Province, Mr. Jamison, husband tour author. I fear she did not much appear to enjoy the she spent with him at Toronto & at all events she seems to have confined it to a single experience. By way of authors, you mention dear Wordsworth, & I have to tell you that I finished the Excursion, where I began it, at Niagara. I believe I promised my verdict, when this should happen I fear it would satisfy neither his friends or foes. I liked it much better than I expected: I thought it full of accurate & beautiful descriptions of nature, of great & varied harmony of versification, of pure, refined & lofty feeling. These high & shining merits appear to me in a great degree counter balanced by one grave & it might perhaps be thought fatal objection to the Poem considered as a whole, or still more as it professes to be, only one part of a whole, which is that I think it intolerably tedious: it was almost a necessary result of its plan; what else could be expected fm. 9 long canto's, composed entirely out of the conversation of 4 old men; it may be thought that there is a sort of precedent in the book of Job, but I need not remark on the strong points of difference. I suppose the perusal made my thoughts naturally refer to the qualities of the Patriarch. The St Lawrence looked very well as I returned up the Stream, particularly the portion of it called the Thousand islands, [...]'. Ends: 'There is a very good continuation of Dr. Channing, which Sumner tells me he has sent to you | God bless you dearst. I suppose another post will tell me something more of the family romances. Most affec. ever. M.'EIGHT: No place. July [ 1842]. 4pp. The conclusion of a letter, with postscript dated 12 July (M's birthday). Breaks in: '[…] is, that any arrangement concerning them should as far as circumstances permit, be an equal one - […]'. He writes: 'I gave up Jamaica, the upper Mississippi, the Lake St Marie, but I believe my virtue must yield to the Manitoulin Islands in Lake Huron; […] I have an offer from the Superintendent of Indian affairs to take me up there in his annual naval cortege for the distribution of presents to the assembled Indians; he takes also some officers of the army & to make it wholly reputable the Bishop of Toronto for the 1st time to visit the Missionary Stations. This takes place during the 1st week in August'. He also refers to 'some Sedgwick & Sumner engagements'. Ends with valediction, and postscript '12 July. Your ever blessed birth day'.NINE: Buffalo, no date [August 1842]. The first 4pp. of a letter beginning: 'This dearest M. will be my last letter but one to you from this continent, […]'. He hopes 'to catch the packet of Sepmer 1st.' With references to 'the midnight Echoes of Lake Huron'. 'Our Sejour at Manitoulin was also curious in its way: we were in the midst of an Encampment of almost 6000 Indians: some of them from great distances, the wildest & most grotesque figures imaginable. We had war dances, canoe races, counsels, smoking of pipes, mixed with all this we had our Protestant Bishop, besides Baptists, Methodists, & christenings, confirmations, hymns, Protestant Vergers preceding the Prelate over scattered trunks of trees, Catholic gilt croziers under log roofed chapels. The cutting up & distribution of the various presents is quite a sort of labour; in the last we all took part: And in return I am charged with vice pipes which I am to present to their great Mother the Queen. I took the Sacrament with almost two dozen of these blanketted dusky forms, which was a new association to me.' The letter breaks off: 'I & at least some others of the party shall be picked up by one of the American Steamers, taken in no time to […]'.?>?>[in]g?>?>?>