Travel Letters: Morlaix, France (1874)

DEAR MOTHER, — Arthur says this is a ” dutiful scene.” He is sitting on one side of a wretched little table, in this quaint old hotel, writing to John, and I am just beginning this note to you upon the other side. I dare say our letters will be very much alike, for there is nothing to tell, except where we have been and what we have seen ; that is rich enough. A week ago yesterday we crossed from New Haven to Dieppe, and had a very beautiful voyage. The sea was calm and bright ; the coast that we left and the coast to which we came, both were beautiful. Then we went up to Rouen, and spent a lovely day among its old Gothic architecture. There is nothing more beautiful in Europe. Then we struck off into the country, and for a week we have been wandering around among old Norman towns, each odder and more picturesque than any that have gone before. Pont-Audemer, Lisieux, Caen, Bayeux, St. Lo, Coutances, Granville, Avranches, Pont Orson, Dol, Rennes, Morlaix, these are mere names to you, as they were a week ago to us, but now they are all places to remember,—old towns, each with its churches six or eight hundred years old, some with magnificent cathedrals, and all with curious houses tumbling out over the streets, and carved from top to bottom with the queerest figures in their oak timbers, apostles, prophets, martyrs, dragons, donkeys, trees, soldiers, and great wreaths of flowers. The streets themselves are full of interesting people, doing the oddest things. Women with high, white caps, men with wooden shoes clattering along the pavements, children playing strange games, and donkeys laboring along with loads three times as big as them-selves.

All the places are full of history. Here William the Conqueror was born, and here he was buried; here the Huguenots once burned the church, and there the Royalists withstood the Republicans in the French Revolution. All this makes Boston seem far away, and the sense of vacation very complete. To-day we passed from Normandy to Brittany, a rougher, ruder country, and a wilder people. Last Sunday we spent at Granville, a curious French watering place upon the coast, and after a service in the old cathedral, we bathed and swam from the great beach. Arthur is well, and seems to enjoy it all. Tonight we received letters up to July 9. Here are some nice old people and ” Little Wanderers ” from Brittany. Aren’t they pretty? Love to all. Write often.