Travel Letters: From Westminster Palace Hotel, London (1883)

DEAR WILLIAM,— I left the Brimmers at Biarritz and came over here from Paris last Tuesday. Mr. Brimmer has been the most charming company, and all the party have been very pleasant. I have seen a good many people since I arrived. Everybody is hospitable and kind. This morning I have been preaching for Canon Duckworth at St. Mark’s in St. John’s Wood.

Yesterday I went to the opening of the great Fisheries Exhibition, where they have everything you can imagine, from any land you ever (or never) saw, that has anything to do with catching fishes. The Prince and Princess of Wales were there, and the Prince made a speech. I saw him also the other day at the Stanley Memorial Committee. He is pleasant-looking and has easy manners. The new Dean is very cordial and friendly. I saw the new Archbishop the other day. He looks able and has a real ecclesiastical face.

I found at Barings’ the two packages of sermons which you so kindly sent, and I was grateful to you in the midst of the row and hurly-burly of Bishopsgate Street. They were just what I wanted, except that I am not to preach on Hospital Sunday after all. Next Sun-day morning I preach at the Chapel Royal, Savoy, one of the old historic churches of London. The following Sunday (27th) I preach at the Abbey in the evening, and the next Sunday, June 3d, I preach for Farrar in St. Margaret’s.

I have a little plan in which I need your help. I want to send home some little thing for the church, and I thought I would get a piece of nice stained glass for the robing-room window, — the little window behind which we put on our surplices. It would brighten up a little that rather doleful room. Would you go to Chester and make him measure it very care-fully, giving the exact size of the glass inside the frame, and also showing how much of the window is arranged to open. Please make him very careful about the exactness of the measures. Will you do this as soon as you can, so that I can see about it while I am in London ?

I suppose by this time the Andover window must be in its place, and I hope it is quite satisfactory. I do not suppose that it can be made in any way a memorial of the aunts, as well as of father and mother. I almost wish we could put up somewhere a plain tablet with their names upon it, that they might be somehow remembered in connection with the church. They offered, I believe, at one time, a part of the old orchard as the site for it. I am anxious to hear what you think of my plans regarding the old house. The more I think of it, the more I want it.

Speaking of windows, I saw Mr. and Mrs. Fred Dexter in church tonight, and they tell me that the new window in Trinity is wholly satisfactory and very beautiful. At present I am very much troubled about the little triangle in front of Trinity. It looks as if it would be built on, and poor Trinity hidden away behind a tenement house. If you meet any fellow in the street who looks as if he would like to give sixty thousand dollars to keep it open, stop him for me and tell him we will put up a monument to him in Trinity when he dies. Good-by.

Affectionately, P.


Sunday, May 20, 1883.

DEAR WILLIAM, — I have been rich in letters this last week. First came M ____’s, poetry. Then Tood’s letter, which shows how wonderfully the female mind is getting educated in America. To get these letters a few days after they were written makes me feel as if I were almost at home. On the strength of them, I went yesterday and engaged a passage from Liverpool for Boston on the Cephalonia, which sails the 12th of September. So that I ought to be in Clarendon Street on the 22d, and preach in Trinity on the 23d ! Will you be glad to see me ?

So you have sold your old house. We had some very good times there, and it will always be dear to you. I hope the new one which is building is going to see the happiest years of all. We are all good for twenty years more, and they shall be as happy as the accumulations of the past can make them. Now I am going off to preach at the Savoy Chapel.

Four P. M.

I have been and preached. There was a great crowd, and everything went off very well. Then I took lunch with the Baroness Burdett-Coutts. I am going there to a dinner on Tuesday, to meet the new Archbishop..

London is very pleasant now, full of interesting people. Friday I dined at Mr. Lowell’s, with Professor Huxley. There were only four of us, so that we had the great skeptic all to ourselves, and he was very interesting. Next Saturday I am going to Farrar’s to meet a lot of people. Among others, Matthew Arnold, whom I am very anxious to see. He is coming to America, I understand, this autumn.

I am glad John preached at Trinity. Tell the supplies to hurry up, for they will not have much more chance. I am coming home in the Cephalonia. Meanwhile, why cannot you run over and join Paine and me this summer ?

Affectionately, P.


May 27, 1883.

MY DEAR WILLIAM, — I am very late about my Sunday letter. The fact is, I am just home from the Abbey, where I have been preaching this evening. There was the same great throng of people that is always there, and the Abbey was as solemn and glorious as ever. I could not help putting into my sermon an allusion to our dear little Dean of old, which I think the people were glad to hear. Then we went into the deanery, just the way we used to do. I like the new Dean very much, and his love for Stanley is delightful. Mrs. Bradley and her daughters are also very pleasant. A young fellow, Hallam Tennyson, son of the Poet Laureate, was there. Does it not make In Memoriam ” seem very real to meet those two names together ? He is a very nice fellow, and asked me to come down to the Isle of Wight and see his father, which I have a great mind to do. I preached for Canon Boyd Carpenter this morning, at Christ Church, Lancaster Gate, near Hyde Park. Next Sunday morning, I am to preach in old St. Margaret’s for Farrar, which will be very interesting. He gave me a big dinner last night, with many clerical folk, the most interesting of whom was Lightfoot, the Bishop of Durham, one of the great scholars of the English Church. Matthew Arnold was to have been there, but at the last moment he was invited to dine with Prince Leopold, and it seems that means a command, and breaks every other engagement. Farrar has asked me to lunch with him next Thursday, so I shall see him there.

I went on Tuesday to a tremendous dinner party at the Baroness Burdett-Coutts’s, with swells as thick as huckleberries. Then, for variety, I went on Thursday night with K to an all-night meeting of the Salvation Army, what they, in their disagree-ble lingo, call ” All night with Jesus.” They close the doors at eleven, and do not let anybody go out till half past four A. M. We made arrangements before going in that we should be let out at one A. M., and then we had to drive an hour in a hansom to get home. The meeting was noisy and unpleasant, but there was nothing very bad about it, and I am not sure that it might not do good to somebody.

One lovely day this week I went on a Cromwell pilgrimage to Huntington, where Oliver was born, and saw the register of his baptism, the house in which he was born, and the country in the midst of which he grew up. It was the sweetest of days, with the apple-trees in full blossom, and the hawthorn hedges just opening in white and pink. These and many other things have filled up my time very full, but it is very delightful.

I shall spend two more Sundays in London ; then, on the 17th of June, I preach for Dean Plumptre at Wells, and probably on the 26th at Lincoln. I am going also to make a little visit to the Bishop of Rochester.

The 23d of September will soon be here, and who knows but we may be all together in the old Andover house by the summer of 1884 ? I hope nothing will interfere with my plans there. I wish you were here for tomorrow. We would get up a ‘scursion. Affectionately, P.


June 3, 1883.

MY DEAR TOOD, — Your wicked papa has not sent me any letter this week, and so I am not going to write to him today, but I shall answer your beautiful letter, which traveled all the way to London, and was delivered here by a postman with a red coat, two or three weeks ago. He looked very proud when he came in, as if he knew that he had a beautiful letter in his bundle, and all the people in the street stood aside to make way for him, so that Tood’s letter might not be delayed.

How quickly you have learned to read and write ! I am very sorry for you, for they now will make you read and study a great many stupid books, and you will have to write letters all your days. When I get home, I am going to make you write my sermons for me, and I think of engaging you for my amanuensis at a salary of twenty cents a month, with which you can buy no end of gumdrops. If you do not know what an amanuensis is, ask Agnes, and tell her I will bring her a present if she can spell it right the first time.

Poor little Gertie ! What a terrible time she has had. It must have been very good for her to have you to take care of her, and run her errands, and play with her, and write her letters. I suppose that is the reason why you hurried so and learned to write. It was a great pity that I never got her letter about the Christmas presents, but I am very glad that you liked the coupé. What do you want me to bring you home from London? Write me another letter and tell me, and tell Gertie I shall be very happy when I get another letter from her written with her own little fingers.

I want to see your new house, which I am sure will be very pretty. I wonder where you are going to be this summer ? Now, I am going off to preach in a queer old church built almost a thousand years ago, before your father or mother was born. Give my love to them, and to Agnes, and to Gertie, and to the new doll. Your affectionate uncle PHILLIPS.