Travel Letters: London (1885)

DEAR WILLIAM, — Saturday I went to Oxford and stayed at the Vice-Chancellor’s, Dr. Jowett’s. Other people were staying there, and it was very bright and pleasant. On Sunday afternoon I preached the university sermon in St. Mary’s Church. The service was at two o’clock, an hour when I think nobody ever went to church before. Four men came to the Vice-Chancellor’s house, and Dr. Jowett and I fell in behind them, and they escorted us along the street as far as the church. When we reached the church, another man took us in charge and brought us to the foot of the pulpit stairs, where the Vice-Chancellor and I solemnly bowed to one another, and he went up into his throne and I went up into the pulpit. Then I preached. I spent the next two days in Oxford, and had a lovely time, going to all sorts of meetings, dining with the dons, seeing the men I wanted most to see, being rowed on the river, and all that. The weather was lovely ; you cannot think how beautiful the place looked.

Your brother, P.

WESTMINSTER PALACE HOTEL, LONDON, June 12, 1885.

DEAR GERTIE, — . . . I have been running up and down this big world of London and seeing a lot of people, and every now and then going off into the country, which is wonderfully pretty now, with haw-thorn and lilacs and laburnums all in bloom.

Last Sunday I went out to Harrow, where there is a great school, and there I preached to five hundred boys. How A. would like to go there, wouldn’t she ? In the afternoon I came back into town, and preached in Westminster Abbey to a host of people. The great place looked splendid, and it was fine to preach there. Yesterday I went twenty miles into the country, and preached at an ordination of forty new ministers. The fields were bright with daisies, and I wondered how North Andover was looking. You must be just packing up to go there now. Even with all the beauty of England, it makes me quite homesick when I think about it. You must tell me all about the removal there, and how you get settled, and how your corn-barn looks, and what new things you find to do in the old place ; and you must have it all ready for me on September 12, when I mean to come up early in the morning and spend the whole solid week quietly there. That will be just three months from to-day. . . .

I go to Cambridge for next Sunday, and then to Oxford for Commemoration and my degree. Good-by ; my best of love to all and you.

Affectionately, UNCLE P.

WESTMINSTER PALACE HOTEL, LONDON,

June 18, 1885.

MY DEAR TODD, — You certainly deserve a letter, for your letters to me have been delightful and have made me very happy. I am sorry you have given up the poetry, because it was very interesting and amusing. Perhaps now that the strain of school is over, and you are among the sweet sights and sounds and smells of North Andover, you will drop into verse again. I shall be glad to hear you sing once more. Write me a poem about Tom.”

I am having a beautiful time, and I wish you all were here. If you were, I would get a big carriage this morning, and we would all go driving about London and out into Hyde Park, and perhaps far away into the country. We would see the rhododendrons, which are in full bloom now, and we would wish that the grass on the lawn in North Andover could be made to look half as soft and green as the grass on these beautiful English fields.

I have just come back from Oxford. You should have seen me yesterday walking about the streets in my Doctor’s gown. It was a red gown with black sleeves, and is awfully pretty. It was only hired for the occasion, for it costs ever so much money, ‘and I did not care to buy one. So you will never see how splendid I looked in it, for I shall never have it on again.

Affectionately your UNCLE P.

WESTMINSTER PALACE HOTEL, LONDON,

June 19, 1885.

DEAR WILLIAM, — I hope you are well and happy, and I wish very much that I could see you all today.

You must be safe at Andover long before this, and I know how pretty it must be looking. I shall get a bit of it at the end of the season. It seems to be settled now that Archdeacon Farrar and his two friends will come with me on the Pavonia, September 2. I hope we shall arrive in Boston on Saturday, the 12th. Then we shall spend Sunday in Boston at the Brunswick. Monday I shall go with them as far as the White Mountains on their way to Canada, and then about Wednesday come back on the Boston & Maine Railroad to Andover. How I wish you could put off your vacation till then, and go with us to the mountains, and have a leisure week at Andover after our return. Think of it and try and do so. Tell M. how delightful it will be if she can join us for the mountains. We need stay there but a day or two, visiting merely Crawford’s and the Glen.

I have had a busy and delightful week. Saturday afternoon I went to Cambridge, getting there just in time for the boat races, which were very picturesque and pretty. After that came a supper at Professor Jebb’s, with lots of dons and professors. Sunday I spent at the Vice-Chancellor’s, Dr. Ferrers’ at the Lodge in Caius College. At two o’clock I preached the university sermon in Great St. Mary’s to a big and imposing congregation. It was the Tolerance lecture which you heard in Cambridge, and it went off very well. Monday I roamed about among the beautiful colleges, lunched with an undergraduate, who had a pleasant party, and went to a big dinner party at the Jebbs’. Tuesday morning I went to Oxford, a slow four hours’ ride, took lunch at Dr. Jowett’s with some great university folks, and then went to the public theatre, where we had our D. D. degrees conferred on us with queer ceremonies. I send you some papers which tell about it. The next day, Wednesday, was the great Commemoration Day, with the conferring of the D. C. L. degrees, and a college luncheon and a brilliant garden party in the afternoon. Then I came back to London, and last night went to a dinner given in honor of the Precentor of the Abbey. To-night I dine with Mr. Bryce, whom you remember at our Matthew Arnold dinner of last winter. So it goes all the time ; but after two weeks more it will be over. On the 3d of July we go on to the Continent, and life will be quieter, or at least it will have a different sort of bustle.

.. . I have not been anywhere, except in London and at the universities, during all this visit. The papers tell us it is very hot with you. Here it is cool and pleasant. The crisis and change of government of course keeps everything excited. Gladstone goes out with honor, having saved the world a war. My kind love to all.

Ever affectionately, P.

WESTMINSTER PALACE HOTEL, LONDON, June 25, 1885.

DEAR MARY, — . . . I love to think of you all at North Andover, and to look forward to the time when I shall be with you. The plan of which I wrote last week has fallen through. Archdeacon Farrar and his friends have made up their minds that they must sail direct for Canada, and so I shall come alone in the Pavonia, and the White Mountain trip will not take place. I shall come to North Andover on Monday morning, the 14th of September, and stay there quietly as long as I can. Archdeacon Farrar’s party will not reach Boston until the first of November.

Everything here has been delightful. People have been very kind, and invitations flow in in far greater numbers than I can accept. It has been very interesting to be here during the political crisis and see the English people change their government. Right in the thick of it I met Mr. Gladstone at dinner at Mr. Bryce’s, and he was full of spirits and as merry as a boy. Our new minister, Mr. Phelps, was there, and Senator Edmunds, and it was very interesting to see the English and American statesmen meet.

I was invited by Lord Aberdeen to go to his country place and spend Sunday with Mr. Gladstone, but I had promised to preach here and could not go. I was very sorry, for it would have been a capital chance to see the great man familiarly.

I am just back from Lincoln, where I have spent the day and preached this afternoon in the magnificent cathedral. On Saturday I go to Salisbury to stay with the Dean, and preach in that cathedral on Sunday. Monday I come back to town, and dine on Tuesday with the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Pal-ace. Wednesday I start off to meet the Paines, who have been absent for two weeks in Scotland, and we shall travel together somewhere for a week ; then back to London and off together to the Continent, about the time you get this note.

We have had hardly any heat, and to-day is as cold as March, but the country is looking glorious, and the town is as gay as Marlborough Street in February.

What are you all doing ? And how does the old house look with its green grass and yellow hitching-post? Is Tom still alive after his hard winter’s experience? How I wish I could look in on you tonight. It is most midnight here, but you are just about finishing supper and sitting down to logomachy. I have not seen the blessed game since we played it in Clarendon Street the night before I left. You must thank Agnes and Susie for their last letters. The New York trip must have been a great event. Yesterday I thought about Commencement and wished I was there. I hope Arthur was with you. Good-night.

Ever and ever affectionately, P.