Letter from Thomas W. Parsons to his brother-in-law George Lunt
(Munich, 21.11.1870)



Spanish translation & annotations
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Monday night

Novemb. 21. 1870

My dear Mr Lunt

This, I believe is the third time I have addressed you since leaving America and my excuse for not having written more fully & frequently is that our days have been so crowded and we have travelled so rapidly that I have often been too tired at night to do more than think and dream of home.  Tomorrow much to my regret will be our last day in Munich and as we shall not go to Vienna —as Prof. Peirce had planned— but directly to Venice by way of the Tyrol, I may also say our last day in Germany.

Munich is the first place on the continent I have seen to love. I knew beforehand that I should not like Berlin and I found it what I expected —large and in some respects elegant but devoid of any particular interest for me.

Mr. Bancroft was most attentive&



polite. I met him first at the Opera "Romeo e Giulietta" - and he afterwards invited our whole party to an elegant dinner with the Chevalier Bünsen and Tokay. I was not sorry to leave Berlin for Dresden where I had been before: it is the capital you know of Saxony and I called at the royal palace to see his Majesty whom I had an interview with 18 years ago when he resided in another palace and was simply the Prince John, and not every inch a king. He has grown pretty old and appears much saddened by present and past events. It is most painful in Prussia to see the constant evidences of a state of war. The hourly tramp of soldiery —soldiers everywhere— armed police— a certain swagger and fierceness of tone— and most distressing of all the French prisoners — dirty fellows of all sorts. Zouaves - Turcos - whom I saw marched back and forth to their soup and work. However the rogues did not seem to feel it but went on smoking & chattering with that gayety wherein alone the French are really invincible. From Dresden we passed through Bohemia


and found plenty of Bohemians there worse than any I ever saw in Paris. After a day or two in Prague -most interesting - (and by the way we saw the old (abdicated) Emperor of Austria at his window as he rose to bow to the military band - we pushed on to Munich in one day -starting before daylight and arriving and hour before midnight. Late at night we came to Ratisbon the English name for Regensburg. I stepped out of the carriage and asked about what water it was. I saw the lights glistening upon: Dies Fluss hier? Die Donau! [this river here? -- The Danube!] and then I felt I was pretty far from home. And now from my window I look upon the Alps - oh how beautiful! another world in ivory! when the sun lights up the lower ranges and the great peaks above are so mingled with clouds. These are the Roethian Alps by Salzburg which we are to pass day after tomorrow. The Isar rolling rapidly flows absolutely under this very house. A mountain torrent pours through the back —turns wheels and spits (I suppose) and helps to do the work of the vast and admirable Hotel than which I have never seen one that I like better. How many times a day I wish that you and Addie could be with me & look on all


those treasures of art in which Munich is so rich. I feel now that I am near to Italy. This is one of the highest capitals in Europe, 1700 feet above sea level and blown upon by winds from snow in sight which never melt but as yet we have had no cold. I am writing at eleven o'clock at night without a fire; and the streets are full of birds. Bavaria is far more civilized than Bohemia in the ways of life. Last night we went to the Opera to hear Mozart's Zauberflöte - and last week we saw the Merry Wives of Windsor! I hope to hear from home soon. I cannot write specially to Addie tonight. Give my love to her and kiss to Francesca. I had a most charming visit to Fanny in Torquay although I went and returned alone.

Fanny was well & her child is as good as three common children. I have written to Mr. [il.] to meet us in Naples and go with us to Mount Etna and I hope he may be able to do so. May I trouble you Mr. Lunt to look for a little matter of business? or if you are too much occupied Addie may attend to it as well. Mr. Stowell is to make his first payment under the new lease on the first of December. It was understood that he was to apportion twenty five dollars of this and of each monthly payment to Mother which as Mother spends so very little and as she is rent-free there in Winter St.: I thought would be sufficient. But as she has received


has received –no money for a considerable time except a small sum that I enclosed to her on my arrival in England (did she receive it, I wonder?) it is likely that she may wish to draw a larger sum, and I have already written to Mr. Stowell to that effect. Of course I desire that Mother should not be stinted but I am equally desirous that there be no bills to pay on my return. Mothers’ wants are so few that she can easily get on without running into debt; even little debts. Ready money is always cheapest and saves all trouble. If Mr. Stowell possibly did not receive my letters from London this may be his authority for increasing Mothers’ allowance but I wish that either you or Addie would press upon his attention the necessity of enclosing the sum paid to

           Messrs Baring, Brothers & Co

           on account of
                Mr. T. W. Parsons -(not for T. W. P.)

Mr. Sturgis (brother of Henry) will then attend to it personally -as I saw him with Prof. Peirce and afterwards by myself. Mrs. Parsons also had an interview with him and explained things very fully it being a little out of the ordinary way of busines.


I am sorry to trouble either you or Addie with this matter but as Mr. Sturgis was so very considerated and kind I want my things to go very straight with him.

Sir Frederic Pollock son of the late Baron P. (whose legal position you must be well acquainted with) whom we met at dinner in Lord Vernon’s house –afterwards invited us to lunch and took Mrs. Parsons & me with Lady P. to see the Turners in the National Gallery –a special favour as the G. was closed for cleaning & not open for "the season".

Sir F. P. gave me a copy of Fraser’s Mag. for May 1869 containing an article of his on Lord Vernon’s great work in which he had paid me a very high compliment which Addie can find in the Athenaeum if you care to see it. I was altogether unaware of it and it’s odd that no one of my d-d good natured friends ever called my attention to it. I was delighted beyond measure with my stay in London and the people I met there. The first day after I came from Torquay I went to the Athenaeum –saw Mathew Arnold and Prof. P’s [Benjamin Peirce] friend Sylvester great plus & minus man. Sir F. P. told me that he should at once propose my name for membership were I not so soon leaving London. Oh Mr. Lunt! if you were only in London  how much more of position & society and social enjoyment one half of the labour would bring you that is now fused and merged in the sterility of that narrow desert which Fate has assigned for the arena of your abilities!

Since beginning this last page Mrs. Parsons has just shown me a letter she has received from Lord Vernon.


She had sent it seemed (unknown to [me]) a copy of her pretty book to Ld. V. and his lordship writes thus

"Dear Mrs. Parsons
With very great gratitude
I accept the copy of the 'Old House at Sudbury'….etc. etc. etc.
"It concerns me much that I am unable (on account of our going etc.) x x x x x
to offer to receive you at my 'old house at Sudbury' which apart from its architectural interest would no doubt in its Library and possibly as the type of an English house of that period (Hen. VIII) offer attractions both to Mr. Parsons & you.

x x x x x x x x x x x

I trust that your expedition to the South of Europe will be as prosperous as it is sure to be interesting & that on your return to England I may have the pleas. of meeting you again etc. etc."

Mr. Charles Peirce whose wife has been traveling with us from London arrived yesterday from Spain. He will go on with us to Sicily. I see and had before heard that the English savans are a good deal vexed that their Govt. has made no appropriation for sending a corps of observers to the Eclipse. Recently a party I believe has




been somehow got up and the London “Daily News” says but for the appointment of Prof. Peirce and the interest he awoke in England nothing would have been done. The English seemed to think it was a great thing for America to do in the cause of science.

Pray write to me soon

Always to

Baring Brothers & Co

for T. W. P.

Give my love to Mother and all my friends

Perhaps you will let Addie send this letter to Mary Heard as it will much interest her.

I read yesterday in the Times of the 18 Nov. T. Carlyle’s letter it is imbued with all his acerbity but there is much truth in it & it is very instructive but if you reprint it entire as it deserves I hope you will give an editorial antidote cum magno grano salis.


*We are gratefull to Kimberly Reynolds, Curator of Manuscripts of the Boston Public Library, for her help to finding this letter and obtaining this pictures. Also we are indebted with professor André de Tienne for his help in the transcription.

Transcription by Zoltán Haraszti (1940)
Proyecto de investigación "La correspondencia europea de C. S. Peirce: creatividad y cooperación científica (Universidad de Navarra 2007-09)

Fecha del documento: 2 de diciembre 2011
Última actualización: 14 de septiembre 2017
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