( Originally Published Mid 1800's )
Wednesday P. M., August 30, 1865.
DEAR FATHER, See if you can find this little place upon the map, and then picture one of the Brooks boys set down at the Spread Eagle Inn (the picture of a little English or Scotch inn), after an English dinner, to tell his adventures to the family in the back parlor of 41 Chauncy Street, Boston. Let me show you how I got here. Get the big Atlas which we had out on the Sunday night before I left, and trace me on from point to point.
The last time I wrote I was in Dublin. I spent two days there ; saw the great Exhibition (whose only very striking point is the collection of pictures), the college, and the other sights of the dingy old town. I spent Sunday there, and went to service at St. Patrick's Cathedral, where we had the whole cathedral service in its most splendid style. Sunday afternoon, having failed in town to see Archbishop Trench, whom I was most anxious to see of any man in Ireland, I went down to Bray, a watering place near Dublin, where I heard he was to officiate. I did not find him there, and so came back to Dublin ; whence I started the next morning and went by the way of Belfast up to Port Rush on the northern coast, where I spent Monday night. Tuesday, I drove over to the Giant's Causeway and inspected it thoroughly. It was most interesting, — more wonderful in its formation than I had imagined. Then back to Belfast, and on Tuesday night took a crazy little steamer, called the Lynx (about as big as the Nelly Baker, — not quite), for Glasgow, where contrary to all reasonable probabilities and amid all sorts of discomforts we were landed for breakfast on Wednesday morning. Spent the day there. It is a fine city, and puts one right into the midst of " Rob Roy." Nichol Jarvie lived close by the hotel, and I was inclined to run over and congratulate the good bailie on his safe return from the Highlands. There is a fine old cathedral there, in whose crypt, you may remember, one of the finest scenes in " Rob Roy " is laid. Thursday morning was clear and lovely, and I took the train early for the foot of Loch Lomond (Balloch), and then the steamer up the lake ; it is a glorious sail, different from anything I know in America, and full of romantic interest ; then across by coach to Loch Katrine, and down that beautiful lake by steamer. This is the one celebrated in the " Lady of the Lake," and you pass right by Ellen's Isle. Then by coach through the Trossachs, a splendid mountain gorge, to Stirling, where I spent Thursday night ; saw the great castle and the old home of the Scottish kings. This brought me to Edinburgh on Friday morning. Of Edinburgh I cannot say enough. It is the queen of cities, the most romantic, picturesque, un-American, old-world town that ever was. I have been there till today, and would like to have stayed a week longer ; its beauty is not forgettable, and its quaint sights are past all description. I went to church there on Sun-day: in the morning to one of the plainest of all plain Scotch Presbyterian churches, where you sat on a board as wide as three matches, and heard a sermon of an hour long; and in the afternoon to an Episcopal church, where the service was intoned.
How strange these old towns are! You do not think of them as belonging to these days. They seem to have done their work in the world, and handed it over to us, and crept under their glass cases where they are kept for shows. Still, let me say for Edinburgh that I found it practical enough to get there a traveling suit of fine Scotch tweed, for which I paid only five pounds, which is less than half what it would have cost me in America. Monday I went down to Abbotsford and " Fair Melrose." It is like a dream to see these places. Sir Walter, the splendid old fellow, seems to walk and talk with you. It was the day I had been looking for, ever since I first read your old Lockhart's Life some fifteen years ago. It will always be one of my memorable days. Yesterday I was at Roslyn Chapel and Hawthornden, both beautiful, the chapel a wonderful little gem of sculpture ; then back to Edinburgh in the afternoon and up Arthur's Seat, the famous hill which overlooks Edinburgh.
I am on my way now to the English lakes, and have stopped here over night to see the old abbey, and a Scotch family to whom I have a letter of introduction. I have seen a good deal of Scotchmen. Their thrift and intelligence demand respect, but they are cold. I spent the evening in Glasgow with the family of a professor there, who all talked the broadest and most unintelligible Scotch. The professor insisted that Pemnsylvania was a city, but was pretty well informed about our war and politics, — an Abolitionist and a Northern man. I wish that you could see this queer little town. It is Scotland in a nutshell.
Thursday P. M.
I was broken off here, and must close my letter hastily to make sure of Saturday's steamer. I am very well, and enjoying everything very much indeed, as you can see. To-day I have spent about Jedburgh with the Andersons, to whom I had a letter, and who prove to be very pleasant people. Sunday I expect to spend at Windermere on the lake ;, after that I shall begin to get towards London, reaching there in about ten days.
Love to everybody. How I should like to see you all ! I shall depend on getting a letter at London. Your affectionate son,