Travel Letters: Days At Hotel Du Nord, Berlin (1882)

DEAR WILLIAM, — Today I am going to write and tell you what I have been doing in Berlin. I have been here for ten days, and have fallen into the most regular way of living, just as if I had been a Berliner instead of a Bostonian, and had lived all my youth in the Tinter den Linden instead of in Rowe Street. Do you want to know how it goes ? I get up in the morning and breakfast at eight o’clock ; then I go to my room, which is very bright and pleasant, where I have a lot of books and a good table, at which I am writing now. Here I stay until eleven or twelve, reading and studying, mostly German ; then I go out, see a sight or two, and make calls until it is two o’clock. Then I go to Dr. Seidel, my teacher, and take a lesson, reading German with him for two hours. Then it is dinner-time, for everybody in Berlin dines very early. They have North Andover fashions here. Four o’clock is the table d’hôte time at our hotel, and that is rather late. After dinner I get about two hours more of reading in my room, and when it is dark I go out and call on some-body, or find some interesting public place until bed-time. Is not that a quiet, regular life ?

The people here to whom I had letters have been kind and civil, so far as they were in town ; but Berlin ways are very like Boston ways, and the people whom one would like to see are largely at North Andover or Nahant. The family of which I have seen most is Baron von Bunsen’s. He is a son of the old Bunsen of whom one hears so much in the last generation, is a very cultivated, intelligent gentleman, a member of the German Parliament, and an excel-lent scholar. He has a charming family, and a delightful house in the new part of Berlin, which is very beautiful. He has given me a good deal of time, going to museums, etc., and I have been several times at his house. Tuesday I am to dine there and go with them to see Schiller’s ” William Tell.”

The theatre here is such a different thing from what it is with us. It is like a sort of lecture. It begins at half past six and is out before ten. Ladies come unattended. Some of them sit and knit. The whole thing is as quiet as a sewing-circle, and quite free from any of the air of dissipation that belongs to theatre-going in America. Of course there are the other kind of theatres, but I speak of the best sort, and those which Government maintains. One night I went to see ” Hamlet ” in German. The acting was poor, but the audience was interesting.

Besides the Bunsens I have seen a good deal of Dr. Abbott, who has been settled here for forty years, and knows Berlin through and through. Last night I dined with him at the Zoological Garden, and saw a pretty picture of Berlin life. To-morrow I am going out to dine at Wansee (which seems to be a sort of Berlin Brookline) with Baron von der Heydt, who is going to have some of the Court preachers to meet me. A good many other people have called on me, and talked about German things and people ; so that I see all I want to see of folks, and the days are only too short. Unfortunately, the university is closed, and the professors are all off on vacations, so that I miss many men whom I should like to see. Indeed, I fear the universities all through Germany meet so late, that if I go to India the first of December I shall be able to see very little of the professors and to hear hardly any lectures. But I am counting much on India. Yesterday I met Lord Amthill, the British minister here, and he offered to give me letters to the Earl of Ripon, who is Governor-General of India, and to other people there, which will insure me the chance to see whatever is going on. What a tremendous victory Wolseley has gained this week! Now Arabi will not block my way.

Do you remember the little statuettes from Tanagra which are in our Art Museum? There are a great many here and I am much interested in them. Yesterday I found some capital reproductions of them, and bought three, which are to be sent you by mail. Well, my paper is full, and though I could go on a week about Berlin, I stop. I am just going down to preach at a little American chapel which is here. I shall stay about a week longer, and then travel through Germany.