Travel Letters: Albemarle Hotel, London (June 29, 1866)

DEAR WILLIAM, — Last week’s letter was sent from the heart of Wales, the foot of Snowdon. This is from the metropolis again, so I spin along. During the week I have seen and done a good deal. We climbed to the ” Tip Top House ” of Snowdon, and so began in a mild way our summer’s mountaining. The climb does not amount to much. The view is one of the noblest I know, with infinite variety of hill, valley, and lake, and the sea in the distance. Then we took a long ride through most perfect scenery from Beddgelert to Port Madoc. down the coast to Barmouth, and thence to Dolgelly. This last stage, from Barmouth to Dolgelly, is the finest bit in Wales, and can hardly be surpassed anywhere. You must take it when you come abroad.

From Dolgelly we came across the country to Shrews-bury, then down to Hereford, where there is a fine old cathedral, on to Ross, and thence by a most beautiful ride down the valley of the Wye to Monmouth, where we spent Sunday, a pretty and deadly quiet little village. Keeping still down the Wye to Chepstowe, we passed Tintern Abbey, the most beautiful monastic ruin in England. You cannot conceive how lovely it is, with its exquisite arches, perfect windows, and immense masses of rich ivy, Chepstowe to Gloucester, Worcester, Bristol, Wells, all interesting towns, with historical associations, fine old buildings, and delightful scenery. Then to Salisbury, and there I saw what is to me the most impressive thing by far in all England, Stonehenge, the old Briton temple out on Salisbury plain. A drive of eight miles from the town, over the green, flat plain, got us there just before dusk, and we saw the gigantic ruin looking its lordliest. There was something very grand and absolutely refreshing in those enormous rude, gray stones, the symbols of old strength, and will, and worship. I would rather miss seeing anything else in England than Stonehenge. From Salisbury to Southampton, and thence to Winchester, which is full of interest, and then back to smoky, dingy, grand old London. The whole trip has been delightful, weather fine, except one or two days, and the scenery looking its best. Now I have done with England, and shall start Monday morning for Paris again, and by next week’s end be in Switzerland.

I found letters here from you, for which no end of thanks. You don’t know how much I enjoy them. Next Monday is your birthday. All hail to you, O thirty-two !

I met your friend, Mrs. Walter Baker, in Wales. Tell father and mother I want to know all about the ordination. Good-by, and in three months more I am with you. Love to all.

Your affectionate brother,

PHILL.