Travel Letters: London (1872)

DEAR MOTHER, — I will begin a letter to you, now that I have a leisure moment, while I am waiting for Fred, who reported himself at the hotel this morning when I was out, and has not yet returned. So he has arrived, but I have not seen him yet. I wrote to father just before we landed from the Palmyra. We went to Cork and spent some hours there, and drove out to Blarney Castle, through some of the loveliest country that you can imagine. It was a glorious day, and we enjoyed it hugely ; then we took the train to Dublin, crossed the Irish Channel to Holyhead, a beautiful sail of five hours, and then a long night’s ride by rail brought us to London, where we arrived at six o’clock on Sunday morning.

Sunday I went to hear Stopford Brooke, at St. James’s Chapel in the morning, and Dean Stanley at Westminster Abbey in the afternoon. It was a beautiful day. Monday morning we went down town to the bankers, and then to the picture galleries, and in the afternoon drove in Hyde Park to see the swells. We engaged passage on the Oder for Christiania, which sails next Friday morning. We shall arrive there on Monday evening, the 15th. We also engaged passage on the Thuringia from Hamburg for New York on September 11. Today we have been sight-seeing, — the great South Kensington Museum and the International Exhibition with the new Memorial, which has just been opened, having been built by Queen Victoria in memory of Prince Albert. It is a very gorgeous and beautiful affair.

Wednesday Evening, July 10, 1872.

Just here Frederick turned up, and from that time to this I have had his company. He is well, has enjoyed his voyage very much, and takes to traveling like a fish. He and I have scoured London today, called on the Archbishop of Canterbury, examined the British Museum and Westminster Abbey, visited Hyde Park, and this evening we have been to a concert at the splendid new Albert Hall. He means if possible to return with us in the Thuringia, but there is some uncertainty about getting staterooms. We shall know in a week or so.

So the two great family trips are launched for the summer, and promise to go on well. You shall hear from point to point how we are faring. I do not feel as if these few days in London were really a part of it, and shall not think that we are fairly beginning until we are aboard the steamer for Christiania tomorrow night. London seems too familiar, and, with all its strangeness, a little too much like home to be really abroad. It has grown enormously since I was here in 1865, and is simply too big to know much about in two or three years, so that two or three days in it go for very little.

I am sorry to see what hot weather you have been having in Boston. I hope it is only the working off of heat for the whole summer, and that you will have it cool the rest of the time. Here the weather is delicious, — bright, cool, sunshiny days that quite disappoint one’s ordinary expectations of London.

Already I begin to feel how good it will be to get home.