Travel Letters: Back At Hotel Du Nord, Berlin (1872)

DEAR WILLIAM, — I remember very well writing a letter to you from this very hotel seven years ago. It was about the beginning of my first trip to Europe. There have been several changes since then, and I hope for the better. I reached here only this morning, and find Berlin the same bright, cheerful-looking, great city I remember it. It has grown and improved immensely. Everywhere you feel that you are in the midst of a very great, strong, self-assured Empire. Prussia is certainly the biggest thing in Europe today. But Russia is not to be sneezed at, either.

I was at Moscow when I wrote last. From there I went on a trip to Nijni-Novgorod, on the Volga, where the great annual Fair is being held. It is about twelve hours from Moscow, and quite in the centre of Russia, so that the journey there and back gives one a chance to see much of the country. Vast numbers of people gather every year from the east and west, and set up a whole city of temporary shops for three months, on a low, sandy point of land, at the meeting of the Volga and the Oka. The crowd is most curious and picturesque. Persians, Tartars, Armenians, Chinese, Caucasians, Jews, and Europeans of every sort ; with all their various goods — teas, skins, fruits, car-pets, great miles of iron from Siberia, and wheat from the Black Sea, — every language and dress you can picture. All this goes on for three months, and then they shut up shop and go home, and the place is deserted until the next year.

The Fair was in full blast this week, and I saw it to good advantage. Then I came back to Moscow, spent another day, and saw the wonders of the Kremlin again. Then to St. Petersburg and to Warsaw, where I had a day, and a very pleasant one. It is a bright, live city, with fine buildings and beautiful palaces and gardens. I liked what I saw of the Poles very much indeed. Yesterday I left Warsaw at three, and reached here this morning at five. I went to church this morning and heard a very poor sermon. I hope you had a better one in Trinity. Now I am going to Lubeck and thence to Copenhagen. I sail from Hamburg two weeks from next Wednesday. I shall be glad to be at home and at work again, though very sorry to break off this pleasant life.

Is it really true that Greeley stands a good chance for th. Presidency ?

My kind love to Mary, Agnes, and all at home. Thanks for the letters which you have written.

Yours always,

PHILLIPS.