Travel Letters: Westminster Palace Hotel, London (1892)

DEAR GERTIE, — I have the same old rooms, the big parlor and bedroom on the second floor; the boot-black boy is across the way, the smiling youth is on the sidewalk, the big porter is in the hall, and everything is just the way it used to be, only I miss you very much indeed, and wish you would take the next steamer and come out. You must not take the City of Chicago, because she was wrecked, and it would not have been nice to clamber up the side of that steep rock on a rope ladder. You had better take the Cephalonia ; or, if you cannot get her, the Majestic, which is a splendid great boat, with a great deal of room and all the luxuries of which you can conceive, and she comes over in no time.

All your friends are well and asking after you. I dined at Archdeacon Farrar’s Saturday night. Lady Frances Baillie was there, and so were the Bishop of Rochester and his wife ; he used to be Dean of Windsor, you remember, when we went there once. Yesterday I preached in the morning at St. Margaret’s, and in the evening at the Abbey, and there were a great many people in both churches. And now to-day, for I have been out since I began this letter this morning, I have been running all over town, and last of all have been to pay my Fourth of July respects to Mr. Lincoln, the American minister. Do you re-member when we went to see Mt. Lowell one Fourth of July, and you sat all the time in the carriage ?

There is a splendid new Velasquez at the National Gallery. The National Gallery has bought it since we were last here, and the people for the first time have a chance of seeing it.

I am going now to dine at Dr. Sewall’s, to-morrow at the Abbey, Wednesday at Mrs. Synge’s, Thursday at the Dean’s, and so on every day. How is Tood? Everybody is expecting her, and wondering why she did not come over this year. They can hardly wait to see her. Last Saturday there was a garden party at Lambeth Palace, and everybody looked happy, and some of them very pretty. Next week I am going to see the Tennysons, and the week after I go to see our friend the Bishop of Rochester, who is now the Bishop of Winchester, and lives at Farnham Castle… . I am coming home on the Pavonia with Uncle John and Aunt Hattie on the 8th of September. Now I cannot write any more, but send my love to every-body, and am Your affectionate uncle, P.

WESTMINSTER PALACE HOTEL, LONDON,

July 11, 1892.

DEAR WILLIAM, — I did not get any time to write yesterday, because there was preaching to do all day. In the morning, I preached at a great big church in Chelsea, and went home to dinner with the minister.

Then I came back here and went to sleep in the afternoon, and had a beautiful time. In the evening, I preached at St. Peter’s, Eaton Square, a large and fashionable church ; went home to supper with the minister, and found a number of people, quite a Sunday evening supper party. . . . I am only going to preach once more, next Sunday morning, for Haweis, to whom I have owed a sermon ever since he preached so remarkably in Trinity. When that is over, I shall do up the sermons and the Episcopal robes, and not open them again until I get to North Andover and preach for Mr. Walker.

This morning, I had a long call from Father Hall, who looks well and hearty, and seems to be enjoying things over here, and to have no thought of coming back to Boston or America. It was pleasant to see him again.

John and Hattie are somewhere in England. I heard from John when they arrived at Liverpool, and he expects to bring up here next Saturday night. They seem to have had a very comfortable and prosperous voyage. Arthur is now upon the ocean, and will be here, I suppose, some time near the end of the week. McVickar is somewhere on this side, but has not yet shown himself.

I think I shall go to the Continent on the 25th, two weeks from to-day. I do not know where I shall go, or what I shall do. I would like to go over the Stelvio again with you, and if you will come out we will do it. If you do not come, I shall go alone, probably as far as Switzerland, perhaps to Venice.

Yours affectionately, P.

LONDON, July 17, 1892.

DEAR WILLIAM, — I have just come back from preaching for Mr. Haweis at his church in Marylebone, and have promised to take luncheon here with Arthur at half past one, and then go and hear Farrar preach at the Abbey at three. Before he comes I will begin my Sunday note to you. I am not going to preach any more. Next Sunday I shall be here with Johnnie, and we will go and hear some of the great men whom this big city can supply.

Yesterday I spent at Lord Tennyson’s, going down with Farrar in the morning and getting back to dinner. The old man was in beautiful condition, gentle, gracious, and talkative until he went for his snooze, as he called it, after luncheon. He read us some of his poetry, and talked about it in the most interesting way. Lady Tennyson is a beautiful in-valid, and the young people, Hallam, his wife, and children, are delightful.

We have been to the afternoon service at the Abbey, and had a pleasant anthem and a fine sermon from Archdeacon Farrar. The whole thing goes on, you see, very much after the old fashion, and is very good. After another week I shall be glad to be away, and then I shall think of you, in Paris and among the hills.

WESTMINSTER PALACE HOTEL, LONDON, July 24, 1892.

DEAR TOOD, — Yesterday we were at the National Gallery and saw the :Botticellis, Giorgiones, Tintorettos, Titians, and others. The afternoon before, we took a fine drive in the Park and had a lovely time. This afternoon we have all been to Westminster Abbey and heard Archdeacon Farrar preach a fine sermon. Right in the middle of it a girl went wild and shrieked at the top of her voice, and they had to carry her out neck and heels. Don’t ever do that, will you ?

I am going to leave Tuesday morning for the Continent. I do not know where I shall go, but I think Dr. McVickar will go with me, and we shall find some snow mountains somewhere. I am very sorry about the electric railway at North Andover, and the trees. Perhaps we cannot go there any more after this year. Where do you think we had better go ? I went the other day to the Bishop of Winchester’s. He lives at Farnham Castle, an awfully old affair, with keep, drawbridge, and dungeons underground, and a park of three hundred acres and deer in it.

D. and B. have grown up to be young ladies, and D. sits at the head of her father’s table. I am glad you are reading so many nice books. You will know all about things when you come abroad. How are all your friends? Dear me! it sounds very far away, but I shall come home by and by, and we will get a few days in the old house together before we break up and call the summer done. Good-by, my love to all, and I am

Your dear uncle, P.