Travel Letters: Westminster Palace Hotel, London (1885)

DEAR WILLIAM, — Here it is, begun all over again in the old fashion. The old hotel, the same dingy outlook from the windows, and the same chimes from the Abbey bells every quarter of an hour ! We reached here yesterday afternoon at the end of our fourth day on shore. The voyage was very swift, pleasant, and uneventful. The Etruria is a superb ship, rather inclined to roll, when there seems to be no reason for it, but going through the water at a tremendous rate. The only celebrity on board was Mr. Fronde, who kept very much to his stateroom and was hardly seen. I am afraid the great historian was ill. We landed on Sunday morning at Liverpool, and I went to church, and saw and heard Bishop Ryle. Monday we spent in Chester, and went out to the Duke of Westminster’s place, Eaton Hall, and also to Mr. Gladstone’s Hawarden Castle. Neither of the great men was at home, but we looked at their houses. Then we came on to Leamington, and saw Warwick Castle, Kenilworth, and Stratford-on-Avon, and then here.

I saw Archdeacon Farrar yesterday afternoon, and found him well. I am to dine with him on Saturday to meet Browning and Lowell and Arnold, and the new Bishop of London, Dr. Temple. I saw my god-son, who is staying with his grandfather, in the absence of his parents from London for a few days. He is a round, fat, English baby.

Friday Morning, May 22.

Yesterday was a busy London day, and I did not finish my letter. Now it shall go to tell you that I am well and happy. Think of me on the 31st of May at Oxford ; on the 7th of June at Harrow in the morning, and in Westminster Abbey in the evening ; on the 14th of June at Cambridge. I will think of you all getting ready for North Andover, and by and by going there, and having, I hope, a lovely summer. Already I am beginning to think how good next summer will be when we are all there together, and ” Tom ” has grown to his maturity, and the old place has really come to look and feel as if it had begun a new life for our generation.

I have not heard from you yet, though I got two letters forwarded by you and mailed the day we sailed. Not a bit of excitement here, apparently, about war or cholera, but both subjects quietly and very seriously talked about. Good-by, and my best love to all of you. May you be kept safe and happy.

Affectionately, P.


May 29, 1885.

DEAR GERTIE, — I received your note and Toodie’s early this week, and to-night comes your father’s to tell me that you were thinking of me as late as the 15th of May. I believe you are thinking of me still. Certainly I am thinking of you, and hoping you are all well and doing all sorts of delightful things. It does not seem as if it could be only three weeks this morning that I said good-by to you and took the train for New York. But it is, and I have been in London now more than a week. What have I done ? Let me see. Last Sunday morning I preached at St. Margaret’s in the forenoon ; in the afternoon went to St. Paul’s Cathedral, and heard Canon Scott Holland. Monday we went to Windsor Castle, but it was rainy, and besides that it was ” Bank Holiday,” so there was a tremendous crowd, and we did not see very much. Tuesday I went down to the Bishop of Rochester’s and spent the night, and it was very pleasant. He has a great big house and park, and every-thing very complete and pretty. It was a lovely day, the hawthorns were just blooming, and the grass and old trees were lovely.

On Wednesday I went to a big dinner-party, and I had a very good time. Thursday I went down to the country and spent the day with some nice people who live in an old manor house, in a place called Chigwell. There is a school-house there where William Penn used to go to school, before he founded Pennsylvania, and there are many other interesting things. To-day we have had a long drive to Hampton Court, Richmond, and Kew, and seen no end of queer and delightful sights ; and now to-night I am writing to you, so you see I am very busy. To-morrow I go to Oxford, where I spend three days, seeing the university and looking at all the great men. It has been cold and bleak, but now the weather is getting bright and warm, and the country is prettier than anything you ever saw, except North Andover.

I have not seen Nora Buchanan, but I saw her mother, the other day. Nora had gone to school, and was very well. I wonder when you are going to North Andover. You must tell me when you write again, so that I can think of your getting settled and feel what a good time you are having. Remember that the corn-barn belongs to you, and you must be the mistress there. But do let S. and A. come in when they want to. Give them my love, and also to your father and mother. Do not forget that I am

Your affectionate uncle, P.