Travel Letters: Albemarle Hotel, London (June 8, 1866)

DEAR WILLIAM, — There will be another very short and unsatisfactory letter, I am afraid, to-night. The fact is, I can tell you about London by and by a great deal better than I can write it, so we will put it off until I get home, which, by the way, will be on the 25th of September. I am to sail in the good steamer Ville de Paris, from Brest for New York, on the 15th of September, and shall be with you in ten days from that time. Doesn’t that sound near ? I prefer the French steamers to the English, and this particular one is unsurpassed by any boat on the Atlantic. Look out for her.

Today I have been to one of the great London sights of the year, the Charity Scholars’ Festival, under the dome of St. Paul’s, four thousand little wanderers gathered together and singing in chorus. I never heard anything so telling, the great building rang with their voices. A bishop preached the sermon. After the performance I had the pleasure of lunching with Dean Milman, a charming old gentleman. Do you not remember his ” Belshazzar,” that Dimmock used to spout? This evening I have spent with Browning, at the Storys’ rooms (they have just come to London). He (Browning) was one of the men I wanted most to see here, a pleasant gentleman, full of talk about London and London people, with not a bit of the poet about him externally.

Last Monday I went to Eton, to their great annual festival. Do you remember Eton Montem in the ” Parents’ Assistant ” ? It was a fine day, and the country was looking very beautiful. And I saw the greatest of the great English schools at its best.

I wrote last week to Fred from Cambridge. I continued my trip to Peterborough, Ely, and Norwich, and enjoyed immensely the great cathedrals of all the towns and the perfect English country. Strong has left me for a week or two to go to northern England, to see some places which I visited last fall. I am going in a day or two, and shall be at Birmingham for a Freedmen’s meeting, on the 12th ; at Oxford for the great Commemoration on the 13th, and then keep west. Meet Strong again at Chester, take a run through Wales, and the southern part of England, and get back to London about the first of July, and then be off to Switzerland with your rector.

An ” Advertiser ” tonight with Seward’s speech. So good-by ; engage Robin for September 26. I am very well. Lots of love to all. Good-night.

PHILL.