Travel Letters: London, Albemarle Hotel (1866)

DEAR MOTHER, — I write in great haste this morning, because I do not want this week’s mail to go without some indication of me. I am in London again and very well, that is about all that I have time to say. I left Paris behind me on Tuesday morning, and crossed the Channel by way of Boulogne and Folkestone. With my usual luck, I had a bright, smooth day, and none of those disagreeable scenes which are often witnessed on board the Channel boats.

I found London very full indeed, and only just succeeded in getting a room. Wednesday I went to the Derby Day. It is one of the great characteristic English sights ; all the city of London shuts up shop, and goes out twenty miles into the country to Epsom, to see which of two horses will run the fastest. The excited look of the city, the stream of people of all ranks and sorts going out, the hosts who cover the grounds, the excitement of the race itself, and then the return to town at night, let you see one sort of English life as you cannot well see it anywhere else. The Prince of Wales was out there, and so was I.

This is the big thing that I have done in London this week. Besides this, I have been seeing the great city over again, and picking up new impressions of it. When I was here before, it was deserted ; now it is crowded, and every excitement and fashion is at its height. You cannot think how strange it seems to get back into English ways, and in sound of our own language. Why, the very boys in the streets speak English ! It seems like getting very near home again, and if it were not that I am to put off into foreign parts again by and by, I should feel as if my travelings were almost over. I hope to stay in England now till the end of next month. The country is not looking its best yet, though it is very beautiful. It seems as if you could not cut out a square mile anywhere from this England without getting a gem of a garden or a park.

About the Freedmen’s business, of which I have feared that I should have a good deal when I reached here, I think I shall escape it almost altogether. The great financial crisis has interfered with their plans, and no meetings will be held. I am going to a private meeting of a Mr. Kinnaird, M. P., this evening.

I called at the Adamses yesterday and saw Mr. Adams ; Mrs. Adams was out. I shall see more of them, no doubt, by and by.

Strong met me in Paris and came on to London, and is now with me. I was delighted to see him and to hear about you all.

Four months more and I am with you. Until that happy day, I am always affectionately,

PHILLIPS.