Travel Letters: Hotel Du Nord, Berlin (1882)

JOHNNY DEAR, — I don’t want to break up my life in Berlin, as I shall in a few days, without writing to you from what has become very like home to me. How I wish you were here this morning. First, we would have a quiet after-breakfast smoke and talk, then we would put on our hats and stroll across the street to the university, where there are some forty lecture-rooms, a professor hard at work in each of them, and the whole thing open to anybody who chooses to drop in. We could hear Dillman firing away at the Old Testament, Weiss exegesing on St. Luke’s Gospel, Pfleiderer discoursing on the Philosophy of Religion, or Steinmeyer haranguing on Church History. Hengstenberg is dead, and so is Baumgarten-Crusius, your friend. There are plenty more of them left, and if we grew tired of Berlin to-day, why we could run down to Leipsic tomorrow, where the theology is rather richer than it is here, and where we could hear Luthardt and Delitzsch. We should not understand all that these men said, but a great deal of it would be clear enough, and there would be lots to think and talk about when we came out. Then after an hour or two of this we would go into the Thiergarten, the most fascinating park in Europe, and perfectly delightful on these Indian summer days. There we would wander about and talk some more. We would come home to a queer dinner at four o’clock, and, if you liked, at half past six we could go to the theatre and see a play of Schiller, or, if you preferred, go to see some pleasant people, who are abundant and always hospitable in this cheerful, busy town. Then we ‘d come home and smoke and talk some more ever so late. You must come quickly, or we cannot do this, because I am starting Wednesday, — bound for Dresden, Vienna, and Venice, whence I sail on the 1st of December.

It has all been very delightful and wholly different from any experience which I have ever had before in Europe. I shall remember Berlin and many of the people in it with delight. There are hosts of American students here, but they hide themselves in German families as much as possible, and one sees little of them. There is much work being done, and the thoroughness of their real scholars makes me feel awfully superficial and ashamed.

I am delighted to hear how very successful your house and your summer have been. I hope that they have put you in splendid condition for the winter. Another year I shall be there again, and mean-while you will tell me all about it, won’t you? I think the beauty of being here for a while is that it makes the things at home which really are worth caring for seem all the more precious.

Now I am going out to hear a lecture, then I shall go into the Gallery for an hour, then take a German lesson, and get a little more of this good place before I leave it. Think of me often, and be sure I think of you. My love to Hattie and the babies.

Ever affectionately, P.