Travel Letters: In Lucerne, Switzerland (1800’s)

DEAR MARY,- Now I will tell you all about it. I dare say William has written you since we arrived at Liverpool, but perhaps he has not told you anything about where we have been, or what we have been doing. I must go back to the steamer, where there were a great many pleasant people. We sailed along as quietly as if we were paddling on this quiet lake of Lucerne, the sea bag hardly wiggle-waggled on the wall. Everybody came to dinner, and the tables were dreadfully crowded. On the whole, it wasn’t much of a voyage, quiet, dull, and respectable. We probably shall get something livelier going back, when the September sea will throw up its heels and make some sort of rumpus.

Then we came to England, where, if it had not been for General Grant, we should have been of some con-sequence, but they were all taken up with him, and looked at us as if they wondered what we had come for.

And we went about among them as if we had as good a right as they had, because our great-great-greatgrandfathers came from there. Their country looked beautiful, and London never seemed fuller of people, and was pretty hot. It is terrible to think how many times we have been sizzling with heat and shivering with cold since we left New York. I feel like one of the pieces of meat which we have had served up at our many dining-places, which have evidently been heated over and then cooled down again a dozen times for different travelers who came. However, it is a pretty healthy process, and we are getting as tough as some of the pieces of meat. Well, that is what we did in London.

Then we crossed over to the Continent and so came to the Belgians and Hollanders. The country up there was damp and interesting. It was curious to see how hard they have worked to save it from the sea, and you wonder why they wanted to save it. The men looked wooden-headed and the women golden-headed, not as to their hair, but they wear gold blinders, like very swell horses, which make them look very funny, and compel you to go on the other side of the street when you meet a first-rate à la girl. But they were a dear old people, and I can hear their wooden shoes clattering about the Amsterdam pavements now. I have no doubt they will go on growing up (those of them who don’t fall into the canals and get drowned in early youth), generation after generation, for ages to come, and thinking they have got the best country in the world.

Then came the Rhine, and a little glimpse of Germany, and Gothic architecture, and all that sort of thing, our romantic period. It was all pretty, and William kept up a lively life, sight-seeing all day. Then came the green Tyrol, running up to the White Alps and sending us over from the snow-storm on the Stelvio to swelter in Verona. We put on overcoats and wondered whether we had really thirsted for a drop of water only two days before. Then came Venice, as fascinating and dreamy as it always is, beautiful hot Florence, bright Milan, then the hills again, and now we are in Switzerland. That is all. There is a lake outside this fourth-story window that is prettier than anything in Pomfret, and to-morrow we are going over where those clouds are lying, to see the beauties of the Bernese mountains. I expect to see the Jungfrau wink at William to-morrow evening. He is as well as a healthy cricket. Thank you for letting him come, and I’ll return him safe. My love to the babies, if they have not forgotten me, and I am just as usual, Your affectionate P.