Travel Letters: Deanery, Wells (1883)

DEAR WILLIAM, — No letter from you the past week I suppose there are two upon their way, and I shall get them both in a day or two. Meanwhile, I will not break my habit of a weekly letter, of which I am quite proud, for I have kept it up without a break all this year. Just think, it was a year next Wednesday that we were all huddled together on the Servia, and saw the last of one another in that tremendous crowd. It has been a delightful year, but one is not sorry to think that it is over, and only the last flourish of it left before one turns his face homeward.

Do you remember Dean Plumptre, and the day he preached at Trinity ? He has grown older, and is now Dean of Wells, and I am staying with him ; in a few minutes I am going to preach for him, in one of the loveliest of the cathedrals. He is a true scholar and an interesting man. His wife was a sister of the great theological teacher, Frederick Maurice. . . . There is staying here a son of Maurice’s, Colonel Maurice, who was in South Africa at Tel El Kebir, and who is writing his father’s Life. He is a very charming person and makes my little visit much pleasanter than it could otherwise have been. Then close by lives Freeman, the historian, whose lectures at the Lowell Institute you and I went to hear. Colonel Maurice and I are going to his house to dinner this evening. . . . I dined the other day with another Lowell lecturer, Professor Bryce, whom we also went to hear together, and who is the pleasantest of men and hosts. Stop-ford Brooke was there, and other interesting people. One other evening last week I was at the Mansion House at the Lord Mayor’s dinner to the Archbishops and Bishops. We had the city of London’s famous turtle soup and ever so many curious customs.

Only think, I am writing in a room which the Dean of Wells built in 1472, in which to entertain Henry VII. when he was coming back from the conquest of Perkin Warbeck. Doesn’t that sound old and bric-h-brae-ish ?