Travel Letters: Hotel De L’empire, Paris, France (1882)

DEAR WILLIAM, — I have just been to the station to see James and McVickar off for England, whence James sails on Wednesday for America. You probably will see him before you get this letter. He will tell you about our last week, how we made a run through Switzerland, had a splendid day on the Simpion, crossed the Tête Noire, just as you and I did five years ago, found clouds and rain at Chamounix, so that we saw nothing there. We just stopped for dinner at Geneva and came on to Paris, which we reached early Friday morning. After three pleasant days together in Paris, they have gone this morning, and I am all alone.

It has been a delightful summer, and now I feel as if my work began. A week from to-day I hope to reach Berlin, where I shall stay for some time. I am very anxious to study, and the prospect of unlimited time for reading opens most attractively. I do not feel as if it were a waste of time, or mere self-indulgence, for all my thought about the work which I have done for the last twenty years, while it is very pleasant to remember, makes it seem very superficial and incomplete. I do not know that I can make what remains any better, but I am very glad indeed of the opportunity to try.

On my way to Germany I shall probably meet Arthur and Lizzie, who are to be in Belgium some time this week. . . . I shall be glad to get sight of them, but it will be very brief, hardly more than a hand-shake with each other, I am afraid. We have seen almost no Americans this summer, until we reached Paris. Yesterday, the little American church was quite full of them. . . . The Winthrops were at Chamounix, and we spent an evening with them. Mr. Winthrop seemed to be enjoying his travels.

Of course, everybody is anxiously watching the progress of affairs in Egypt. We know no more about it than you do in America. But the general impression is that it cannot be a long affair, though the English are evidently finding Arabi’s people stronger and braver than they had expected. But any day they may collapse.

Paris is cold and rainy, not at all the bright and sunny thing which you saw when you were here. Always affectionately, P.