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Quarndon; Loughborough ; Its Factories ; Market ; Churches; Town
of Sheepshead ; Stocking Looms; Its trade; Garendon Park; Roman Arch ; Temple of Venus; Ancient Stone Pillar; Paintings; Statuary; Princely income; Burleigh Hall; Its accomplished Mis. tress; Paintings; Missionary meeting; The speakers; Slavery in America; Invitation to address the meeting ; Supper; Invitation to speak at Quarndon on America ; Night repast; Questions on Ame. rica ; Hospitality; The Englishman's Fireside, etc.
The morning after my return from Nottingham, Newstead Abbey, &c., I was invited by the Rev. Mr. S., President of the Foreign Missionary Society, to attend their annual meeting that evening, in Loughborough, at which I should hear some fine speeches from eminent clergymen, three of whom were from London. I accepted the invitation, and at the suggestion of Miss B., tendered myself as her escort, provided I should have the pleasure of her company in a ramble that day around the delightful environs of Loughborough, and a visit to the town of Sheepshead, a few miles from Loughborough, returning in time to attend the meeting. In one hour, we were on our way to Loughborough, distance two miles from Quarndon, a market-town of 11,000 souls. We strolled through its factories of lace, hose, gloves, &c., and made some small purchases, visited the extensive and well-furnished market, and some few of the churches, among them, the new Roman Catholic, which has some choice old paintings worth examining.
The town of Sheepshead is three miles from Loughborough, and contains about 5000 souls, and almost every house has its hand stocking-loom, and a constant whizzing is heard in all parts of the town from sunrise to sunset. Two-thirds of the town is owned by Charles March Phillips, Esq., M. P., of Garendon Park, which we passed on the left on coming to Sheepshead. All the country around is under the highest state of cultivation, and the people appeared happy and contented, well-dressed, and exceedingly polite and attentive. The mansion at Garendon Park is of ancient date,
stands on an eminence, surrounded with oaks and elms, and attached, is an extensive and beautiful garden, laid out with great taste, containing numerous costly exotics, with flowers of every hue and fragrance. The entrance to the park is through an ancient triumphal arch, of the Roman order. A chaste marble temple of Venus is in the centre of the garden, and near it a jet d'eau in constant play, with a white marble basin filled with its sweet water, and cooling the air around the deep umbrage surrounding it. Near the ancient gateway, in a romantic copse, rises a stone pillar, seventy feet in height, erected in 1683, at the date the mansion was built. The mansion contains many valuable paintings from the old masters, and some fine statuary. Mr. Phillips was absent in London with his family, attending Parliament, which was quite a disappointment to us, he being a friend of the father of Miss B. His income is rising £25,000 sterling per annum, and being liberal to a fault, knows well how to enjoy so princely an income. The poor never ask alms of him in vain-his house and purse are ever open to their wants through the whole county.
Burleigh Hall is a mile from Garendon Park, situated in the centre of an extensive park filled with herds of deer, and a beautiful place it is. The Hall is owned by Miss Julia T., who is wealthy and without a known relative living. Miss T. is not only a musician, but a linguist; has travelled on the continent, and was desirous of visiting the United States, and seeing a country of which she has read, and heard so much, both for and against. The collection of paintings have been selected with much taste, and all around the Hall shows the handiwork and judicious mind of
The hospitable reception at Burleigh Hall will ever be deeply remembered, and the musical treat never be forgotten. After returning to Loughborough, and partaking of a refreshing cup of excellent tea, we attended the missionary meeting, at which were nine clergymen. The church was crowded, and when some of the members and clergy had spoken, the President, the Rev. Mr. S rose and observed to the audience, there was then present a gentleman from the United States, who had travelled much, and had at times resided among the American tribes of Indians, had witnessed the good work of the missionaries in that country, and if he had no objection to attend on the stage and make some remarks appertaining to the subject, all present would be obliged, and pleased to hear and listen to the information which he possessed from his own personal knowledge. Taken thus by surprise, I rose to ask to be excused, but before I could speak, one of the clergy from London suddenly took the stand, and stated he, as one, should object to my speaking, or coming on the stage, until he knew whether I was a slaveholder, dealer, or hailed from a slaveholding
state in the United States. The president promptly rose and said he would vouch that I was not only not a slaveholder, but was, on the whole, opposed to slavery, and hailed from a non-slaveholding state. “ Hear, hear, hear," was heard all over the church, followed by the usual applause by the ladies, as well as the gentlemen; and having my feelings a little aroused by the remarks, I hesitated not a moment, made my way to the stage, and spoke freely, at first, my sentiments on slavery in the United States, of the gross falsehoods in circulation of the treatment of slaves in the United States, by prejudiced travellers, for the sake of pecuniary reward from publishers who sustained them in their assertions, for their own gain, at the sacrifice of truth. That having travelled through all the slaveholding states in America, and resided for a quarter of a century among slaves, I spoke from ocular demonstration, and would challenge contradiction from any quarter, that, in the main, slaves were far more happy, and had more of the comforts of life, generally speaking, than the free people of colour, which I explained in plain, intelligible language, that all should understand.
As regards missions to the heathen, I gave fully all the information which had passed under my observation while residing among the Indian tribes of America, in an official capacity, and the thousands who had embraced Christianity through the untiring efforts and kindness of resident missionaries among the tribes, and concluded by a few complimentary remarks to the ladies, to whose aid and great influence might, in a great measure, be attributed the beneficial results in the good cause, which were annually adding thousands to the pure Christian faith, and hoped, at the present meeting, their usual benevolence in contributing their mite in sustaining the good work abroad, would be surpassed, giving to the Society the means of adding link after link to that chain which is destined to bind together all nations, in true brotherly Christian love, as one and indivisible in the true faith of the cross, and in anticipation of so glorious a result, I asked if there was one present who could, under this belief, stay their hand?
The collection was very large, after which the president invited me to sup with the clergy; and my surprise was great, on entering the supper room, to find the side tables filled with liquors of different kinds, and pipes and tobacco in readiness for smoking, convincing me that Father Mathew's pledge was unknown to any one present, and perhaps in Leicestershire. All went off well, and at 10 o'clok I took my leave, and calling for Miss B., we were soon threading our way for Quarndon. On arriving at her house, Mr. B. insisted on my again occupying the chamber I had formerly slept in, observing it would be always reserved for me while I sojourned in the county, or whenever pleasure or business took me to old Quarndon.
The next morning I was waited upon by three gentlemen, as a committee to invite me to speak in the afternoon in the Methodist Church, relative to the United States, geographically, its institutions, manufactures, chief cities, population, with a sketch of the Indian tribes, &c. The meeting was very large, and as usual, a majority of ladies, some of whom I had seen the previous evening at the missionary meeting in Loughborough. With my pocket map before me, I spoke on the subjects mentioned over one hour, and then informed the audience it would afford me additional pleasure to reply to any questions relative to my native country, that any one present should choose to ask, or at any other place, before leaving in the morning, as was my intention to do, having already, I feared, trespassed too long on their kind hospitality, for a week past, which would ever be deeply engraved on my heart; and, if possible, doubly reciprocated to one and all, if in my power, should an opportunity ever offer, either on this or the other side of the Atlantic.
I returned to the hotel, accompanied by a number of gentlemen, who had previously ordered a repast, to which I was, among others, an invited guest, and the night was far advanced before the jovial company separated. During the evening, while good cheer prevailed and wine circulated freely, I was asked how it was that we allowed the President of the United States to reside in a log cabin and drink hard cider, while we had such magnificent houses, institutions, &c., as I had that afternoon described, and which the American newspapers had published as being true. And why, if we had so many factories throwing out tons of cloth and other articles weekly, did we order such immense quantities of those very articles from them every year, and always being in their debt. To all which I explained to their satisfaction, and warned them not to make American political newspapers, in future, their text books, as they might, as they had already done, lead them astray, which they would find to be the case should they ever have occasion to visit the United States, and advised them to give but little credit to those tourists who visit the United States with prejudices formed 80 strongly, as never to admit anything favourable which came under their observation; and all done for pay and to claim a rank among those ungrateful, slanderous authors, who, for fame and money, have prostituted their talents, and become living objects for the finger of scorn to point at, as they attempt to brave their false assertions, and will ever be frowned upon and despised by honest men of all nations. A general cheer followed, and we parted, after a reciprocal sentiment of “ England and America,” drank standing.
In the midland counties, I must say that Leicestershire takes the lead in having the most industrious, polite and hospitable people of them all; and in this delightful and rich county the Englishman's
fireside is truly the place where real comfort can be enjoyed; where the smile of welcome greets the stranger from every face; where guile is unknown, and plenty crowns the festive board.
The next number will be a jaunt to the ancient city of Coventry, Warwickshire, a visit to the celebrated Castles of Warwick, Kenil. worth, and Earl Grey's noted cliff, so celebrated in the feudal wars; also, to Shakspeare's birth-place on the Avon, his tomb, with the time, distance, conveyances, expenses, &c.