Travel Letters: Warwick Arms, Warwick (1866)

DEAR FATHER, — If a letter is going to you at home this week, it must be written to-night, and yet I confess I don’t feel much like writing it. I have just reached here, am very tired, and the waiter is thinking of bringing me some dinner. Until it comes, I will try to talk to you, and you must not be surprised if you find me stupid. When I woke up this morning, I found myself in Stratford-on-Avon, where I faintly remembered arriving late last night ; I arose as soon as I realized where I was, and took a walk before breakfast across the nicest and quaintest of English fields, to see the old farmhouse where Shakespeare made love, where Anne Hathaway used to live. The old cottage stands without an alteration, and is a charming little place. Then I came back to breakfast, and after that was over, went off to see the rest, — the birthplace, schoolhouse, burial-place, and all that belongs to the poet’s life here, which we know very well by pictures that we have seen all our lives. Nothing in England, I think, has a stronger charm than this queer old town. About noon, I took the train for Warwick, but, finding I was too late to see the castle today, I looked at the church with its monuments, the finest, best preserved in all England, and then drove across the loveliest of country, stop-ping at Guy’s Cliff, where the earliest of the Warwicks, the hero of the fairy stories, used to put up (and he had a splendid place of it), to Kenilworth, where I spent the whole afternoon among the ruins, and such an afternoon as you will never know anything about till you come over and do just the same thing. By the way, are you not making up your mind to come over to the great Paris fair of next year? It is time for you and mother to be thinking about it. Then I came down to Leamington, and spent an hour or two in the park of an English watering-place, and finally took the train back to Warwick, where I am waiting to see the noblest castle in England tomorrow morning. That is what I have done to-day. Yesterday I spent at Oxford ; it was Commemoration, which is their Commencement, a strange sight, —perfect wild license of the students, and the freest liberty to chaff, and hoot, and cheer as they please. It was a picture that is not to be seen anywhere else. The day before that, I was in Birmingham, telling Britons that they had been slaves to prejudice and self-interest about America. The day before that, I was at Blenheim, the great palace of Marlborough. Do you remember Mr. Everett’s splendid description of it in his Washington address ? The two days before that, I was in Oxford (Saturday and Sunday) enjoying the most perfect college landscapes, and some of the kindest hospitality in the world. That takes me back about to my last letter, and accounts pretty fully for my week.

I did not get yours of last week ; they are waiting for me at Chester, where I shall call for. them on Monday, on my way into Wales. I hope you are all well. The Fenians seem to be restless again ; I hope we shall put them down with their nonsense. And why do you not either try Jeff Davis, or let him go ? It would be a great relief to foreign travelers. Before you get this, the great war will probably have begun over here, and promises to be terrible. Three months from tomorrow I sail for you all. Good-by. God bless you always. Affectionately,

PHILLIPS.