Travel Letters: Murren (1883)

DEAR WILLIAM, — I went to church this morning in a little thing which the preacher declared to be the most splendidly situated church in Christendom, and I rather think he was right. Do you remember when we were at Interlaken and went over to Grindelwald, how after it stopped raining we climbed up to the Wengern-Alp and looked the Jungfrau in the face ? On the other side of the Lauterbrunnen Valley, into which we descended that day, stands the great hill upon whose top is Mürren. We came here yesterday after-noon, and such a Sunday as this was hardly ever seen. From extreme right to extreme left was one unbroken range of the very highest of snowy peaks, and all day they have been superbly clear. I remember one Sunday, with’ a fellow up on the Gornergrat, which must have been about as fine. Finer Sundays than those two, nobody ever had anywhere.

There are a multitude of English and German people here, but so far as I have learned, R. T. Paine, Jr., and I are the only Americans. The preacher this morning was an old English friend, Dr. Butler, the master of Harrow School, and he is the only person whom I ever saw before. But that is all the better, for one has nothing to do but stare at the hills. I saw the first sunlight strike them at half past four this morning. Besides staring at them, I have been en-gaged today in reading my own sermons. Half the proof of the new volume reached me from Macmillan yesterday, and I have read the interesting discourses through to-day. I hope the public will not get so tired of them as I have.

Tomorrow we go down again to Interlaken, then to Lucerne, over that Brunig Pass where you and I drove once in the dust, thence through the new St. Gotthard tunnel to lake Como, and then a journey by a back road through northern Italy, coming out in the Dolomites and working back to Paris by Munich. We shall be in Paris about the 5th of September, and six weeks from to-day I preach in Trinity.

Tell G. I shall expect her to come and make me a visit just as soon as the old house gets to rights again. I will feed her up and get her well, show her all the pretty things I have bought, and give her a lot of the prettiest for her ownty-donty. How I wish you were all here this afternoon, with John, Arthur, and their families. Perhaps we can get up a great assembly at Andover next summer. I am hoping for a letter from you tomorrow at Interlaken. I am glad the Andover window is done and is so satisfactory. I am eager to see it. There goes an avalanche.

MURREN, August 13, 1833.

MY DEAR LIZZIE, – I am not quite sure whether I owe you a letter, or you owe me one. I rather think our last letters crossed upon the road, and that always leaves a doubt. I imagine that a good many correspondences have died that way. But ours shall not. I will write to you anyhow, and show you that I am not mean. You have been at Murren, haven’t you ? and can anything be finer than this Eiger and Monch and Grosshorn and Breithorn and Mittaghorn ? We have spent two whole days up here, reading novels and staring at the hills. Each morning at half past four we have seen the first sunlight strike the peaks, and all day the sky has been cloudless. Now we are going to turn our backs upon it and walk down to Lauterbrunnen. Every step now seems a step homeward, for six weeks from yesterday I am going to preach in Trinity again. It will seem strange to stand at that little desk once more. I shall crawl back before the people return to town, and when they come, full of the recollections of the splendors of last winter, they will find only me. But I shall enjoy it if they don’t, and then the old life will begin again. There will be some changes, but it is good to know that I shall find you and Arthur just as I left you, only I want to see the new church and enjoy it, as I know I shall.

And where are you ? Roaming along the shores of Grand Menan, or reveling like Sybarites in the luxurious life of ” up the river.” You will come on to the General Convention and look at us, while we are sitting in the great assembly, will you not ? And on the way there and back, I shall steal quiet evenings for logomachy and talk in the Madison Avenue hermitage. How nice and familiar it all sounds, and it is almost here. Will you not meet us in Brussels, where we parted, and we will peel off sticky photographs for an evening, and then come home together. My love to Arthur.

Ever affectionately, P.