10 Handwritten Letters Chittenden Wickes Yale Alumni 1874 European Travel 105pgs For Sale
“Immediately after graduation Horace Chittenden, Arthur Dodge, Frank Olmsted and I went abroad. We landed at Queenstown and were together in Ireland but after reaching London, Frank and Arthur went to the Continent, while Horace and I accompanied Horace’s parents and sisters in a tour through England and Scotland with a short trip to Paris afterward”
(Royal Victoria Hotel, Lakes of Killarney letterhead)
“July 16, 1874
My dear Tom,
Tired is no name for my state of mind and body at present but I feel that I must snatch every opportunity for writing you as we are so very busy that chances do not come very often. The letter which I wrote you the other day was composed on board the Oceanic and of course before I had any opportunity of forming my ideas as regards the old country.
I shall proceed to give some account of my journeyings since landing with the impressions which the various celebrated objects seen have produced upon me. That last sentence is a trifle formal but I hope you will excuse any shortcomings and attribute them to my weariness. Well, on Tuesday morning we landed at Queenstown, a most beastly place by the way, filled with nasty houses and most indescribably filthy people. The passengers from the China reached the dock within fifteen minutes of the time we did and our hearts were cheered by a sight of the Fraud with his little Russian leather bag and his lovely straw hat with blue binding. Well after some trouble we got our luggage through customs house and went up to the Queen’s Hotel for breakfast. (Every hotel here is either the Queen’s or the Imperial or the Royal Arms or the Victoria or something else desperately loyal)…….Cork itself is a very very poor dish. It “smells to heaven” in a way which is perfectly fearful. Everybody tries to cheat you and seems to feel insulted if you object. The general impression given to a stranger is one of extreme poverty. Everyone is in rags and as for respectably pretty female faces or figures I don’t believe there is such a thing in all Ireland. The black-eyed blue-haired Venuses of the Emerald Isle are a fraud of the very worst description. Even the respectable high-toned families that we see driving around in tandems and four-in-hands have the same slouchy half dressed appearance. I long already for a glimpse at the face of an American girl and I can’t imagine what I shall do if we don’t run across one pretty soon…..The peasants all troop out of the holes, which they inhabit in common with the pigs &c, as we pass and the dirty little louse-traps they call children frequently follow us on a dead run for as much as a mile with their monotonous grunt “Now sir ha’ penny” repeated. We have all learned the Irish for “Go to Hell” and we sling that at them. They are not use to this and in generally produces the desired effect that of driving them away….Good night old boy and God Bless you, Horace. O! I am so tired.”
(This letter is much longer as he goes on to describe his trip taking a boat up the river to Cork)
(Swaylands, Penshurst, Kent letterhead)
“July 24th, 1874
My Dear Tom,
Here I am again. Frank Olmstead is also here. We don’t either of us know exactly where we are but the general impression which we have formed is that we have “lit on our feet” in the fullest meaning of the term. “Swaylands” where you see my letter is dated is an elegant country place belonging to a Mr. Cropper whose son we met on the Oceanic, as I wrote you, and by whose invitation we are here.
Our life here so far (and we only arrived yesterday morning) has been just exactly what you read about in English novels. Old Mr. Cropper is a regular English gentleman, although perhaps just the least trifle past his prime, being 75 years old. But you’d never think it to see him take his wine at dinner and play his game of billiards afterwards as he did last night. Mrs. Cropper can only be described by an extravagance, so that I shall have no hesitation in saying and I say it boldly, that she is a perfectly lovely old lady. She is the daughter of Lord Denham and there are family portraits hanging in the dining rooms extending way back to an old duffer in a white wig who was chief justice of the court of common pleas in the time of Elizabeth. Her father, if I am to judge by some memoirs of him which I found in the library last evening, was considerable of a dog in his day. Among the correspondence which was printed in the same volume with the account of his life, I found letters from Edward Everett and from Judge Storey. I was afterward shown the originals of both by Mrs. Cropper. Young Cropper is a regular “dog”. Has everything the best possible and enjoys it. He went to San Francisco last December and came back on the Oceanic a married man. He has taken the least of a jolly little place about a mile from here and is going to bring his wife over in the fall. He has more money than he knows what to do with and he scatters it like water….July 29th, 1874. My dear Tom, I regret to say that I am very drunk. I have been to the _______Gardens with Frank and we went home with a couple of girls. We dined them, but we did not --- &c. You can understand the rest. They were apparently very high-toned but we declined to run the risk and so to speak “we passed.” There has been one mistake or perhaps I might call it, one incident if you like, since we have been abroad which might possibly interest you which I will consequently transcribe to the best of my ability and my ability is very much “braced” at present. You will perhaps remember that in the letter which I wrote you on board the steamer I told you of a Miss Thomas, which I had a moderately soft thing on. Well since I landed I have discovered that 3 other fellows had the same kind of time with her….(goes on with that story and then says…) O! I AM SO DRUNK. I AM SO CHEERED. DO NOT FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE SHOW THIS LETTER. I WILL WRITE YOU A BETTER NEXT TIME. Your affectionate (but cheered) friend, H. H. Chittenden. P.S. I hope you will be able to make something out of this letter but I doubt.”
“London August 2nd, 1874
My Dear Tom,
I have a faint recollection (incorrect division) of having written you a letter which must have been to say the least of it, extraordinary. I feel that I owe you an apology for sending you such an epistle and I hereby do most humbly beg your pardon. However since my last writing we have been enjoying a most awfully jolly time. Last Thursday five of us ie. Bill Kelly, Frank Olsmsted and myself, together with Christee and Macy, two fellows from N.Y. went down to the Goodwood races.
These races are next to the Derby, the biggest and best attended of any in England and we were well repaid for our trouble. We arrived at Drayton station distant about five miles from the course at about noon. After considerable trouble we got a conveyance to carry us to Goodwood. The road was perfectly crowded with all sorts of carriages from a Hansom cab with its broken down knock need animal to the high-toned aristocratic drag with its four-in-hand footmen in livery, elegantly dressed women and the boys in eye-glasses (English mobs)….”
(He goes on in detail describing this fabulous scene at the races. I’ve scanned two of those pages above. He talks about seeing the Prince and Princess of Wales and the Crown Prince of Germany. Says that the Princess of Wales is “perfectly lovely” and that she is by far the most beautiful English woman he has seen. Great description of her. Then on to Brighton which he also describes beautifully)
“The pier (in Brighton) is built right out into the open sea and is about one sixteenth of a mile in length. The sides are lined with red, green, blue and white lights and way out at the end there is a promenade where the band plays from eight until ten every night. It seemed as if all the fast women in England were down there. A great many of them were elegantly dressed and silk, satin and diamonds were more the rule than the exception. Just imagine the scene: you are out on the end of a pier built right out into the open ocean. All around you is the great ocean and the roar of the wavers is under your feet. You hear beautiful music and you see lovely faces and elegant dresses all around. If you are inclined to moralize here is your chance. You have the noblest work of Nature the ocean and the most beautiful work of nature, lovely woman. The later morally debased perhaps but nevertheless fair to look on. You can make endless comparisons, bringing your human intellect and your law of love and get yourself in an exceedingly high-toned virtuous state of mine going away disgusted with the degradation of your kind, or you can go in and have a good time. Which do you suppose I did…..Your sincere friend, Horace H. Chittenden.”
(He also talked about meeting two girls and said, “They said that we could not come and call on them because they were “kept” but that if we would meet them in the evening they would take us to ride in the carriage.” They went of course.)
(This letter states that they are staying at a place owned by the Duke of Devonshire” by the village of Edensor, part of the Chatsworth Estate)
“Chatworth, Derbyshire, Aug. 5th, 74’
My Dear Tom,
……we took a walk down through the fields to the pretty little village of “Edensor” which is also a part of the Chatsworth estate. In fact it is utterly impossible to find anything within a radius of five miles which does not belong to the “Dook” as the country people all call him….I have seen more wickedness and more churches during the last 2 weeks than ever during my whole life before….I was vandal enough to commit a couple of very daring robberies in Westminster Abbey. I stole the inscription off the grave of Queen Elizabeth and I broke off quite a sizable piece of the chair in which every sovereign of England for the last six hundred years has received his crown. I found out when I had made my escape in fear and trembling that the fine for such depredations was a mere trifle of 5,000 pounds. There is a mere nothing, but the trophies would have been a little costlier if you were going to get any of them at that price. By the inscription on the tomb of Elizabeth I mean of course the explanatory card. The original stone would have been too much for even any “cheek”. Well I’ll write soon again. I am a trifle played out now. Good night old boy. Horace H. Chittenden.”
“Furness Abbey, August 7, 74’
My dear Tom,
(In the beginning of this letter he describes Hadden Hall, Chatsworth, Furness Abbey and Buxton)
…….After we got through our sight seeing at Chatsworth we took the train intending if possible to reach Furness Abbey last night. However when we reached a place called Buxton we found that we had missed our connection and should be obliged to stay there all night. Buxton was as we were told, a favorite English watering place celebrated for its mineral spring and medicinal baths. Be that as it may it certainly is the most God forsaken hole I ever got into……The town resembled Five Points and the people, the visitors I mean, had everyone something the matter with him or her. There was rheumatism and there was gout and there was syphilis and there were sore eyes and, well, there was at least one example of every disease under the sun. If this miserable little fraud of a mineral spring had been the pool of Bethsaida itself, there could scarcely a great crowd of maimed halt and blind have come to bathe in its health-giving waters. The principle amusements of this invalid population seemed to be swilling mineral water and being wheeled about in bath chairs. Perhaps you don’t know what a bath chair is. Well it is another ridiculous affair gotten up I suppose by some athletic Englishman who couldn’t get exercise enough in any other way and so invented this concern to draw his mother and little sisters around the garden in……(He describes what the chair looks like)….Mamie wishes her love to your sister and her regards to yourself, Horace.”
(The letter dated August 10th, with the “Crown Hotel” letterhead has a wonderful description where he was walking around town one afternoon and it started raining hard. He saw a young girl (who turned out to be only 17) standing in the doorway of her home. She invited him in and they had a little flirtation as her parents weren’t home. She promised to give him a photo before he left Bowness on Windermere and she did. However on his way out of town her little brother ran up to him and said that her father greatly disapproved and wanted the photo back. Great story as he had developed feeling for his young woman.)
“Glasgow August 15th, 1874
My Dear Tom,
……I believe the last letter I wrote you was from Bowness on Windermere. I was at the time in the midst of quite a romantic little affair. Unfortunately it didn’t come out as well as it should have done……..I am sorry to say, I am consequently considered by all rational travelers as a lunatic and person to be avoided…..The Irish Fenian's have been out in procession and all Glasgow seems to be drunk. The women are the most disorderly portion of the population and they, to speak figuratively, “raised hell” with the procession this morning. The procession was very long indeed and there were any number of bands. A band here seems to consist of about 14 men with flutes and one with a base drum. That is no exaggeration and you may imagine the row they made. If you can’t imagine it you will have to go without any idea of what it was for I can’t describe it. There was an American flag in the procession this morning and Frank and I cheered it vociferously from our window, much to the astonishment of the Scotch and Irish on the sidewalk below….Your friend as always, Horace H. Chittenden.”
(Steamer Iona letterhead)
“I think the 20th of August, 1874, but I don’t know
My Dear Tom,
“Melrose, August 24th, 1874
My Dear Tom,
Since my last writing I have had an accident and as it confines me to the house while the rest of the crowd have gone off to see Melrose Abbey by moonlight, I have an elegant opportunity to write you a letter. I am afraid I must be boring you awfully by my long winded productions but I get awfully homesick sometimes and when I am in that state, it is a positive relief to write. Let this, therefore, be my excuse if any is needed. My last letter was written, I believe, after we had spent one day in the Modera Athem” otherwise known as Edinboro……We had just started from the hotel when the horse slipped on the railroad track and falling down began to kick furiously I with my usual presence of mind, and desirous to save my mother’s and sisters from the horrible accident which must have inevitably befallen them if the infuriated animal had taken it into his head to kick through the bottom of the carriage, jumped from my seat beside the driver and proceeded to sit upon the head of the prostrate steed. This had the effect of cooling him down a little and he remained quiet peaceful while my family was removed by the excited bystander…..I must be very careful for a week or so. I am following the Dr.’s directions to the best of my ability and that accounts for my remaining at the house when I might be working myself up into a fearful state of romance by looking at old ruins in the “pale cold moonlight” as the guide book has it…..I remain yours as ever, Horace.”
CONDITION OF ITEMS:
Handwritten items such as diaries and letters are never usually in mint condition. I try and describe my items the best way I can and post as many photos as I can. If a diary is tough to read for me I always say so in the description. If it is in bad condition I also say so and I usually describe the condition at the end of my descriptions. I have never, or I should say rarely, had a handwritten piece be in mint condition and there is a very good reason for that; they are made of paper, they’ve been carried around sometimes for 100’s of years and have been opened and shut hundreds if not thousands of times. So, please keep all of this in mind when purchasing diaries and letters from me..
MY BLOG: I’ve decided, finally, to start a blog site using the diaries in my personal collection. Over the years I’ve got so many amazing people emailing me asking me to share from my own personal collection of antique diaries. I’ve been trying to develop a web site but that is taking time so I thought I’d do this first and also facebook. There is also a page on the blog where I’ve written about why I collect. You can search for the blog by putting into one of the search engines (such as Google) the name; sallysdiaries (no apostrophe and all one word).