Travel Letters: Hotel Bellevue, Brussels, Beligum (1882)

MY DEAR WILLIAM, — Do you remember pretty Brussels ? And this comfortable hotel and St. Gudule and the nice time we had here five years ago ? Well, here we are again, James and McVickar and I, and I will tell you how we got here. We landed after a most wonderful passage from the Servia on Thursday evening, the 29th of June. The next morning we left Liverpool, and James and I spent the night at the Peacock Inn at Rowsley, where we went to see Chats-worth and Haddon Hall. It was the most delightful English afternoon. Saturday morning we took a train for Lincoln, and saw the big cathedral, which you know. That was good, too, and James seemed to enjoy it very much. In the afternoon we drove to Boston, where we saw the Vicar, who insisted that we should remain for Sunday. We declined his invitation to the vicarage and stayed at the Peacock Inn.

It is a very neat and pretty town, as dull as death, with nothing but the St. Botolph Church to give it distinction. On Sunday morning James read the Lessons in the big church and I preached. It was a pleasant sort of experience. John’s visit of two years ago was constantly referred to, and seems to have become historic in the town. The Vicar is a very pleas-ant old gentleman and hospitable as he can be.

From there we went to Peterborough, and on Mon-day saw Ely and a good deal of Cambridge, and finally brought up at London on Monday night. We went to one or two hotels about Trafalgar Square, but they were crowded, and at last we brought up at the old door of the Westminster Palace Hotel, where they took us in, and it was like a bit of the old times.

Here we stayed three days. One night we went to the House of Commons. Of course I went into the Abbey and saw the Dean’s grave, and I called at the old deanery, but the new Dean was out. Farrar came to see me and asked me to preach. I saw Lady Frances Baillie, and we had much talk about Dean Stanley. Then we went out to see Burne J ones the artist, and again to see William Morris the poet, at his factory at Merton Abbey, where he makes his beautiful things. These, with some sights of London, took up our time. McVickar, who had been to see his sister, joined us again in London, and here we also met Richardson, and arranged to go with him to southern France and Spain. Think of us there when you get this.

On Friday, James, McVickar, and I crossed from Dover to Ostend, and yesterday we went to Louvain, where McVickar had to see about some bells for Holy Trinity. There is a bright and busy ten days since we landed. How are you all ? I tried to picture you at Andover this Sunday afternoon, with the aunts taking care of you. Oh, how I wish you and Mary were here, and could go down with us to hear the Vesper music at St. Gudule. It is all very pleasant and will last for six weeks more, and then for Germany, and something rather more like work. It is hard to realize that a year and more must come before I see you all. God keep you. My best love to Mary and the children. Affectionately, P.