Travel Letters: Grand Hotel, Vienna (1882)

DEAR AUNT SUSAN, — No letter since I left home has given me more pleasure than yours which I received a week ago. It took me back into North Andover, and made me feel as if we were all in the little parlor, and the Austrian town which I could see out of the window were all a dream. You were very good indeed to keep your promise, and I hope I shall hear from you more than once again before I drive up to the side yard door next autumn.

We had a small snowstorm here yesterday, and today the hills around Vienna are all white with snow. I wish you could escape the winter, as I mean to do, by running down into countries where the only trouble about winter weather is the heat. The second week in December, when you get this, and when the whole of North Andover is shivering with cold, we shall be running down the Red Sea and trying to get into the shade of anything to keep ourselves cool, and looking over the side of the Poonah to see if we can see any of Pharaoh’s chariot-wheels.

It is eighteen years since I was in Vienna, on my first European journey. Then I was on my way to Palestine. One difference between that year abroad and this I feel all the time. Then the old home in Chauncy Street was still there, and father and mother were both waiting to hear what one was doing, and one of my pleasures was to write to them and to think how I would tell them all about it when I got back. I miss all that part of the interest of travel very much now. Sometimes it is hard to realize that they are not still there, and that I am not to write to them. At this distance all that has come since I was here before seems like a dream.

I hope by Christmas that the window in their memory will be in the little church. William writes me that it is getting on, and I shall be glad to know that it is fairly in its place. I hope it will be there for years to keep people reminded of them. You must tell me how you like it when it is up. It seems as if we came pretty near losing Trinity Church lately by fire. It would have been a pretty hard thing to have to go to work and build it all up again. As it is, they seem to be having trouble with it in the way of repairs. I hope your new church will tempt no incendiaries and meet no accidents.

If I were in Boston I would come up to Andover this afternoon. But as I am in Vienna, I can only send this letter to tell you I am thinking of you. My best love to aunt Sarah and aunt Caroline.

Your affectionate nephew PHILLIPS.