Letter from Charles S. Peirce to his sister Helen Huntington Peirce
(Leipzig, 22.01.1871)



Spanish translation & annotations


Leipzig 1871 Jan 22

My dearest Helen -I will begin by offering you my sincerest & most heartfelt congratulations on the birth of your boy, & I hope he will grow up as I have no doubt he will to be "an honest man, the noblest work of God". Two such well regulated people as you & Will must make him all that a boy can be desired to be. The idea of supposing that a young woman in your situation can possibly care to hear at all from an absent brother is the wildest of all hypothesis. But I shall act upon it, nevertheless; -reminding myself of the chapter of Seville, who when they determined to build the cathedral (the largest ever built for a cathedral except St. Peter’s) passed a vote as follows "Be it resolved that this chapter proceed to build a cathedral of such magnificence that succeeding generations shall say that we were madmen to have attempted such a thing".

On the day of the eclipse I caught a most dreadful cold riding backwards in a barouche. It


was the first of my misfortunes & since then everything has gone Bumblety bomblety bamblety bom Bumblety bomblety bamblety bom Bomblety bamblety bemblety bim Bemblety bamblety bomblety bum. Read and see if these epithets are not fully borne out by facts. As I was going out the hotel yard to go to see the eclipse with not a cloud in the sky Mr. Deeter said "I hope you will have good weather." "Oh", said I. "You needn’t hope for fortunately we are in a climate in which you can know with certainty for a few hours ahead!" ¡!-¡!!  - ¡  Delayed in Messina about five days. Five hours is most ample to see all that is worth seeing in Messina. Going to Naples we were all sicker than ever we had the honor of being before. Inundations of the Tiber such as hadn’t happened before for 200 years –200 years since there was anybody as unlucky as me- filled Rome with mud of a peculiarly muddy description. Not one day of uninterrupted good weather while we were in Rome. Delayed there by several causes. The inundations having broken down

some bridges it was necessary to go to Florence a long way. We travelled 2nd class, with the reverse of an improving effect on my dreadful cold. In Florence we were to remain only overnight & leave at 5 the next morning so as to be able to stop a few hours in Bologna. We were to be called at 4 so we thought we had better go to the hotel nearest the station & did accordingly & were lodged in a room so damp chilly & dirty we decided to sleep in our clothes. They didn’t call us in the morning & we sallied forth in the hardest rain I almost ever saw for breakfast at a café. Having missed the train we couldnt stop at Bologna but pushed on to Milan, still 2nd class. Dreadful rain changed to dreadful snow & our train was dreadfully belated. After only one day in Milan we pushed on. This was very unwise though at the time we thought ourselves as wise as the ten wise virgins. We were charmed with Milan & ought to have stayed but the unutterable but not unusual stupidity of a bankers clerk caused us to keep on. We went from Milan to Turin & were badly delayed on the road. At Turin we were


to be called at 4 o’clock to catch the international train at 5:20 but we weren’t called & so missed that train. However we learned the railway over the Alps had been given up & therefore we should have to go over by diligence & therefore we concluded to take the 5:50 train to Susa the starting-point of the diligence. But Zina found that in the hurry of trying to get off for the 5:20 train she had left her locket at the hotel & so she had to go back for it & so we lost also the 5:50 train. So we had to wait about in coffeehouses shops and the station till noon. We arrived at Susa in the afternoon & found the only diligence went by night. We were to reach St. Michel in time for the train at 6:10 for Geneva. But missed it by 5 minutes & we had to wait in the dirty little Savoy village till 3 P.M. I need not say that my dephlogisticacion was contrapulously interannuated. Anything worse for a severe cold than a night journey by diligence over the Alps, can perhaps not at once be thought of. Our train for Geneva was dreadfully


delayed also so that we did not get to our hotel till 3 Am. Geneva is the coldest place in the world except one in Siberia. Our room was like the corner of Winter & Tremont streets all the time & my cold was horrid. I had to prolong my stay on that account. When we did get started our train was horribly delayed & we missed our connection at Bern. Bern however was well worth being delayed at. A very curious old town. Bears the sacred animal. Bears everywhere. Hotel superb. We got started from Bern but could go no further than Basel. We put up here for the night and as we were going on early in the morning I left part of the trunks at the railway station, for in Europe there is usually but one station in a town but what was my horror in the morning to find that here there were two & that consequently we were left again. We made another start in the afternoon & arrived in small hours safely in Strassbourg. My cold dreadful. Next day


in Strassbourg. Made ourselves sick on paté of foie gras. Zina won’t allow she was sick but I notice she didn’t want any dinner. Next day started for Leipzig. Got as far as Würzburg at 9 Pm & there stuck & had to put up at the hotel  & be called at 3 Am for a new start. Started & went to Nürmberg. Here Zina played out & with a headache. Stopped here one day. Found a bottle of ink had broken in one of the bags & got over everything.

Haven’t time to finish.

Best Love

C. S. P.



Transcription by Sara Barrena (2009)
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 traducciones. En este sentido agradeceríamos que se enviaran todas las sugerencias y correcciones a sbarrena@unav.es
Proyecto de investigación "La correspondencia europea de C. S. Peirce: creatividad y cooperación científica (Universidad de Navarra 2007-09)

Fecha del documento: 15 de mayo 2009
Última actualización: 14 de septiembre 2017
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