Letter from Charles S. Peirce to his family
(Leamington, 18.04.1875)

Spanish translation & annotations


Leamington 1875 April 18.

I went to that shop in Chester where father bought his clock. There was certainly a beautiful collection of things there. The prices were for Marquises and Dukes. The man wanted me to purchase a carved cabinet which he thought would just suit Nº 6 Arrow St. The mate of it had been bought by the Duke of Argyll. Call to mind Scott’s novels and remember what sort of a fellow the Duke of Argyll is. Another one he thought I had better build a room for. Some ebony


chairs took my fancy but the Duke of Westminster had been before hand & had secured them at L25 each. The things the man had were really good and omitting his palaver I thought him honest.

On Friday 16th at 2 PM we left Chester for Leamington. The road took us round through a bit of North Wales –via Wrexham & Ruabon to Shrewsbury. Very attractive scenery which made me long to see more of Wales. When I return I must see Conwy castle at least. We noticed the tower of Wrexham church was very fine. I must try to get a photograph of it. One of those elaborate "perpendicular" towers with buttresses at the corner and irregularly placed turrets on the top. From Shrewsbury we went via Wolverhampton,


Wednesbury, Birmingham, Warwick to Leamington. The was through the "Black Country" so called from the quantity of Forges, Coal pits, etc. etc. From Wolverhampton to Birmingham a distance of over ten miles, as far as the eye could see there was one forest of tall chimneys all smoking or flaming away. The sun was veiled with smoke & the smell & taste of it made one feel sick. I was much impressed with the appearance of this district which was more infernal than I had fancied it. Soon after leaving Birmingham we entered the delightful county of Warwickshire (in fact I believe Birmingham is in the county) the heart of England as it is called & arrived at Leamington at 6:35. Here we deposited ourselves &



our luggage in a "fly" to be driven to the hotel. A fly is a one horse vehicle and in America would hardly take all our baggage without and extra charge. But things are different here. Here is what we had with us.

1. Zina's Saratoga trunk

2. My wooden trunk nearly as large

3. Zina’s cubical "hat box"

4. Another just like it

5. My leather trunk

6. My portmanteau

7. My hat box

8. My hand bag

9. My Spanish blanket

10. Another blanket

11. Chronometer

12. Sextant

Leamington is a very new and neat town. It is more difficult to give a person who hasn't seen England an idea of it than of such a place as Chester. It is very characteristic of England too. The prevalent hue of houses sidewalks road & everything is a cheerful drab or buff. The bricks


are buff. The stucco with which the neat plain houses are mostly covered is buff. The stone of the nice sidewalks is the same color, and so are the smooth & clean roads. The houses are singularly devoid of all attempt at ornament or where there is any it is of a super-chaste description. The whole has that trim & trig aspect which belongs to everything English. We are living at a ruinous rate at the Regent Hotel here. We have a bed room, a large dressing room big enough for a single bed room and a parlor 7 breadths of Brussels carpet wide and as long as 11 breadths. The parlor has a wide window in the middle


of its length (All English windows are very wide, which is a great beauty) & another at one end. An open grate with a fire at the end, bronzes on the mantle piece & a mirror over it. On the long side opposite the window is a long mahogany sideboard inlaid with a white wood. On this sideboard is a gilt and alabaster clock & two gilt vases all under glass bells and a mirror runs the length of the sideboard & over it hangs one of those round diminishing mirrors. There is another mahogany sideboard with a marble top and mirror over it at one end of the room. There is an oblong mahogany table with a cloth in the middle of the room supported on a sort of claw. At each window there is a little mahogany stand. That at the end of the room is a chess & backgammon table. Out in the room at the end


by the window is a mahogany writing table of good dimensions, and each side of the mantle-piece is a mahogany whist table. On the long side of the room there is a sofa on each side of the window. There are two fateuils before the fire. There are two ladies sewing chairs & six common chairs. One large screen & two fire screens complete the furniture of the room.

The bed room measures 6 breadths by 7 ½. The furniture is all mahogany. There is a four post bedstead and canopy. Marble topped wash stand. High bureau, cheval glass, lace covered toilet table with mirror, bed side table, chairs, etc. The dressing room is just half the size of the bed room & contains a similar wash-stand, toilet table, bath tube, bureau, etc.

All the windows have double curtains besides shades. We have or meals in our room of course. If we ring the parlor bell, the waiter, such a creature as is not seen at all in America, -an elegant young




man in a black dress suit and a foreign accent appears. If the bed room or dressing room bell is rung the chamber maid a buxom & clean young Englishwoman comes. Everything is as clean as wax and everything is just as we desire. No fretting over poor attendance but rather a pleasing glow of content at finding our wishes have more attention than we expect.

For breakfast we have, for example, tea, grilled bacon, dropped eggs, toast, rolls, and English muffins –or we may have fried sole –or porridge

For lunch (at 1 or 2) cold meat & salad or cold pigeon pie or something & bitter beer

For dinner (at 7 or 7:30) soup, salmon, chops, salad, sweet omelettes, chese [sic], etc with a pint of sherry.

Our bill for the two will come to 30 to 35 shillings a day. That is more than I can afford but you see what can be got for that sum.






Our parlor has a gas chandelier with 5 burners. We have two bedroom candles & a fire all day in one room. They charge for fire & lights 3 shillings a day.

The bedroom, dressing room, & one of the parlor windows look out on an English garden. The grass is intensely green. They are already cropping the lawns. The leaves are just beginning to appear. Some trees are in full blossom. Daisies, primroses, & golden knobs among field flowers, -crocusses, jonquills, polyanthusses, etc. among garden flowers are very plenty. It is too warm for an overcoat and we haven’t had a drop of rain since we landed.

The house is so quiet that no one would imagine there was another soul in it but ourselves.

Yesterday we went to Warwick castle &




Stratford-on-Avon (Not pronounced Avvon but Ayvon). Warwick is about 2 miles from Leamington. It is nearly as old in its appearance as Chester though not so curious. We passed under mighty gates with towers on entering & leaving the town. As we crossed the bridge over the Avon we had a fine view of the castle which I enclose. This bridge is not where it anciently was. It was formerly nearer the castle and one of the lofty towers commanded and raked it. We descended at the castle gate that is the gate of the outer wall and entered on foot. We passed along a road running in a deep canal with perpendicular walls 20 feet high. It is cut out of the solid rock. It was a terrible defile for a hostile force. When we emerged the castle with all its mightiness was towering over us. I cannot tell


you how high those towers are but I suppose the ramparts are say 100 feet higher than where you stand which is about 25 feet lower than the bottom of the castle. Then the towers reach about 70 feet higher yet. There is a dread majesty about them from that point, I can tell you. I could not get a view from this point which vexes me much. Entering the castle we found ourselves in a huge courtyard covered with a lawn. We went to a little back door of the castle where we were admitted and shown some of the rooms. I shall have to describe these very briefly and omit all mention of the greater number of things which interested us because they are things which have to be seen you know & a description amounts to little more than a row of exclamation marks. You know of course that the hall and the finest rooms


of the castle were destroyed by fire a few years ago. The repairs are now nearly completed but the furniture has not been put into the rooms and they are not shown.

The first room we saw is called the red parlor. The walls are wooden in small panels and are all painted one uniform red a little brighter than handsome Russia leather & the panels have a little edging of gilt. The room is of moderate size about the size of the president’s room at the capitol or say half of Harvard Hall. It has one window. Every window in the castle is necessarily a bay window inside owing to the outer walls being 10 or 12 feet thick. This window looks out upon a park (the castle is in an state of 8000 acres) and the river runs in a torrent at the foot of the castle, where you look out. I don’t know how to describe this room.


The floor like most of those in the castle is of oak waxed & polished (only a few of the floors are stone) and is nearly covered with a Turkish carpet which is not at all worn but looks old. All the coverings of the furniture look old. They were of bright flowered damask. The chairs were all gilt. The cabinets etc. were of buhl, that is very highly polished handsome wood all covered with arabesques of inlaid metal. One of the tables of mosaic amethyst, onyx, sardonsyx, agate, lapis lazuli etc. is said to be worth £10,000 A Louis Quatorzze clock is over the mantle piece on a bracket.


There is some china (plates etc.) which belonged to Dudley Earl of Leicester and is handsomer than I supposed they would have had at that time. On the walls of this room are master pieces of Van Dyke, Rembrandt, Rubens, & Paul Veronese several portraits by each, & one by Raphael.

The next room we saw was the largest of any we saw & the walls & ceiling were all of cedar. The mantle piece was of a very rare kind of marble. There were windows on each side. As for the furniture I cannot attempt to describe it. But I particularly admired a marble bust of Minerva very highly finished & I think an antique.

The next room is painted a very delicate pale green & elaborately gilt & carved with a pattern. This is the richest room we saw. The mantlepiece was of white marble with a lion carved on it quite simple compared with others and






yet so exquisitely done as to make one want more time to admire it. There is a grand portrait (full length) of Ignatius Loyola by Rubens. Other beautiful pictures by Vandyke, Rubens, Murillo, etc.

The next room was the state bed room. Everything was of crimson velvet embroidered with green & yellow silk. The furniture is buhl. Queen Elizabeth once slept here & there is an extremely interesting portrait of her –decidedly the most pleasing I ever saw. Queen Anne also once slept here and seems to have forgot her trunk when she left (other wise it was detained for non-payment of her bill) for here it



remains to this day & I suppose other queens have slept here. Perhaps Victoria who I think visited the castle in 1859.

Then came the countesses boudoir (state boudoir, I fancy. I can’t think she bouds in this place regularly. It was hung with green silk and contained many beautiful works of art. Out of the windows we saw close to us great cedars of Lebanon supposed to have been brought home by crusaders.

Then we saw the Armory, the Chapel, etc. Then we went up onto the Ramparts & climbed one of the great towers visited some of the dungeons etc. Then we went to see the garden which is most lovely. An English garden you know implies grass & trees, brook & rocks as well as merely flower beds. We saw a magnolia in full bloom out of doors & we also saw the famous Warwick rose the form of which is fa-




miliar to you.

On the way out the ancient portress took us to a room in the lodge where she had some curiosities to show us mainly relics of a fabled Earl of Warwick whom she called the Saxon Giant, Guy of Warwick. To me there was nothing more curious than to hear this old crone reciting these absurd tales and showing the things she had as evidence of their truth. First she showed us Sir Guy’s armor, the helmet weighing 7 pounds, the shield 32, the sword 20 and the breast plate 52. She said he was 9 ½ feet high, but I do not believe the armor belonged to a gigantic man and to many and many a man whom I have known the weight of the armor would be a nothing after he was accustomed to it. The [sic] she showed us the rib of the great dun cow which Sir Guy killed on Dunsmore heath. It really belonged to a fossil elephant which may have




lived after there were men in England but many thousand years before that Celtic race which Caesar found inhabiting Britain had wandered into Europe. She showed us other relics of this "dun cow" which were doubtless all parts of the same elephant. I wonder how the idea originated that an animal so dreadful was a cow & not a bull & also how it came to be called a "dun" cow. Then she showed us Guy of Warwick's porridge pot an immense bell metal pot holding about 100 gallons. She remarked that it is now used as a punch bowl and she said that she herself had seen it twice filled and emptied in one night. She told what the ingredients of the punch were (all this was in a sort of recitative) thir-ty gallons of brandy, twen-ty gallons of rum, one hun-dred pounds of sugar


fif-ty gallons of water etc. Then she showed Guy of Warwick's flesh fork which was about the size of a pitch fork with which she sort of scraped the edge of the pot & set it in vibration with a loud sound as you may imagine.

After leaving Warwick we drove on to Stratford where we first went to the Red Horse Inn and had lunch in the Coffee room. Then we wandered forth and saw the sights. First we went to New Place where Shakespeare had built him a house. The house was pulled down some century ago



by an aimiable clergyman of the name of Gastrell to whom it belonged because he wished to avoid payment of church rates upon it. Gastrell immortalized himself by this & his name deserves to be remembered The great Gastrell skulked out of town afterwards at the dead of night to avoid meeting any of his fellow townsmen but his name is still held in remembrance in Stratford & will be long. If he has any descendants they have probably all changed their name. Although the house is gone yet Mr. Halliwell the great Shakespearean scholar has bought all the land that belonged to it. I suppose some 3 acres and keeps it as near as may be as Shakespeare had it. The lawn has been


undisturbed ever since. It is the very turf Shakespeare walked on. The foundations of the house remains & show that it was a good substantial house with a bay window behind & at that window looking out on that lawn & sitting in the very chair which is yet preserved, the Immortal sat and wrote the Tempest, Winter's Tale, Othello and the larger number of his most powerful and matured works. There he sat and wrote those lines


"Our revels now are ended. These our actors,

As I foretold you, were all spirits and

Are melted into air, -into this air:

And, like the baseless fabric of this vision

The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous places,

The solemn temples, the great globe itself,

Yes, all which it inherit, shall dissolve

And like this unsubstantial paggeant faird

Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff

As dreams are made of,

and our little life

Is rounded with a sleep".


How we wonder at the man who could write such rich and solemn music! How


we long to know more of him and to find out what sort of a man he could be! How wistfully we gaze on those things which met his eye when he wrote those lines to see if we can discover in them in any way the source of his inspiration After leaving New Place the tenant of which presented Zina a little bouquet of flowers grown in Shakespeare's garden we went to visit the school room where he used to go to school. It is wonderful how everything in Stratford is penetrated and hallowed by the remembrance of Shakespeare. We found several copies of his plays in this school room where we judged from various indications an excellent and judicious school is still kept as there must have been then. The room looks now just as it must have done then. Then we went to the church where he is buried. It is a very handsome church. I enclose photographs of it. One exterior & one interior. Also one of the monument. The bust is of marble but colored after life. It is executed in


the monumental style, and is therefore somewhat devoid of expression. Its effect is too beefy, too phlegmatic. We know that Shakespeare was excessively lively. He must have been brimming over with apt conversation, harmonizing with perfect accuracy with his interlocutor's mood but leading him to his own. Still to a dull person he may have seemed dull. His bust does look dull. Afterwards at his birth place we saw a portrait of him known as the Stratford portrait it having been in town from time immemorial. It is extremely like the bust. So much like it I think they cannot be independent. Yet it is better than the bust. Much better but still altogether unsatisfactory. Yet the best of all his portraits. I bought a photograph of it but the photograph is excessively inferior to the original.


His birth place is rather interesting. Not at all such a very mean house as Hawthorne represents but a tolerably good one perhaps we may say quite good for the time. The room where he was born has its walls & ceilings completely covered with penciled names of visitors so that there isn't room to write one more in the smallest hand. The window too is covered as thickly with names scratched with diamonds. I noticed Walter Scott's. In the house is a Shakespeare Museum of everything that would illustrate the life or works of the man in any way. It contains a good deal of value.

Today Zina & I drove out to Kenilworth Castle. We couldn't go in on Sunday but walked round the immense and splendid ruin. This has gone to ruin from the same cause which has ruined every other great building which has been ruined; namely that it has been used as a quarry. But who could have committed so barbarian a deed in modern times? Answer Cromwell permitted it & his followers executed it, quite indifferent




to the fact (even if they knew it) that they were converting the huge pile into a great monument to their own infamy which would last as long perhaps as the everlasting hills and would keep alive a bitter execration in the breasts of all who should look upon their work for many generations. I enclose some photographs of the ruins.

On our way home we stopped to looked [sic] at an state called Guy's Cliff and took a little walk where we saw lots of people of the middle class & got an idea of how they look in the heart of England. Tomorrow morning we are off for London.



List of Enclosed Photographs to be Preserved for CSP.

1 Chester. Abbey gate

2   "     Wall & a tower

3   "     Bishop Lloyd's house

4   "    Ruin of Priory of St. John. Norman

5   "    Eastgate St.

6   "    Cathedral from the wall

7   "    Arcade in Watergate St.

8   "     God's Providence House

9   "    Chapter House

10 " Cloisters

11 Warwick castle from the bridge

12 Beauchamp chapel

13 Stratford Parish church Exterior

14  "               "            "           Chancel.

15          " Shakespeare's monument

16   "      "                       birth place

17 Kenilworth General view

18    "             chapel

19    "             interior

20 Guy's Cliff. Avenue

21 Kings College Chapel

22             (perpendicular style)


Transcription by Max Fisch (Peirce Edition Project), revised by Sara Barrena
Una de las ventajas de los textos en formato electrónico respecto de los textos impresos es que pueden corregirse con gran facilidad mediante la colaboración activa de los lectores que adviertan erratas, errores o simplemente mejores transcripciones. En este sentido agradeceríamos que se enviaran todas las sugerencias y correcciones a sbarrena@unav.es
Proyecto de investigación "Charles S. Peirce en Europa (1875-76): comunidad científica y correspondencia" (MCI: FFI2011-24340)
Fecha del documento: 27 de abril 2012
Última actualización: 14 de septiembre 2017
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