This is one more letter from the group of seven letters sent to me by Lydia Wiley.
Letter from Alice Welsh to Anna Maria Welsh from Naples, 12/21/1870
Naples Dec. 21st 1870
My dear sister Anna Maria,
Last Saturday I received your letter, and nephew Somers photograph, we all pronounce it excellent, and I send many thanks in return. His new suit is so beautiful, and the only fault I could find with any of his clothes was that there appeared to be a slight excess of cloth in the lower part of his white great coat. I like the photograph you sent to me better than the one sent to Ellen, although it is also very good, but mine is sweet.
We arrived here this afternoon at three, in the midst of a pouring rain accompanied by heavy thunder, and lightning, all of which still continue, although it is now nine o’clock. The last few days in Rome were very pleasant being mild and clear. We left there on Monday at ten, half an hour’s ride, by rail, brought us to Frascati, from where we walked to the ruins of Tusculum, the day was magnificent, the view splendid, and it was a great enjoyment to have a country walk once more. On the other side of Tusculum we were met by the carriage, an hour and a half brought us to Allano, where we spent the night, from the hotel the view was magnificent, the campagna, with the sea behind it, and the setting sun casting brightness over everything. We enjoyed it very much, it was splendid. Last night we spent at Caserta, where there is a very fine palace, belonging to the king, which we visited this morning. The grounds are also very pretty.
I was surprised that you did not seem to know that we were going to Rome. I do not know how it could have happened, for, although I must own that our plans are apt to be in a most remarkably unsettle [sic] condition, that one thing was certainly known by us all, and I thought I had spoken of it a number of times. So that you may have a clearer idea of our future plans I will now set them before you, remember I give them as they are now, and you need not be surprised if they are rather changed before they are carried out, for such things have happened.
We did intend to go to Sorrento first, but, by some unaccountable process, here we are in Naples. I think the chief reason is that there is no Church at Sorrento and we all thought that it would be a dreary thing to be where there was no Church on Christmas day. However, to proceed, we will, probably, leave here a day or two after Christmas, and for the next week will be at Sorrento then cross to Sicily, where we will most likely spend a few days at Palermo. On the 12th of January we hope to sail, and on the 16th to reach Alexandria. I do not know, exactly, how long we may remain there, but think not more than a week. At Cairo we will probably be two weeks. As yet we have no formed plans about Syria but I think, when we cross the sea, we will certainly get there. And we most likely will up the Nile as far as Thebes, in the steamboat, it only takes a few days. I hope that we may go to Jerusalem, and from there take excursions to the most interesting places in the neighborhood. We hope to come back by Constantinople instead of returning to Italy, and have even spoken of taking Athens on our way, but that is by no means decided, then to go to Vienna and so through Germany. Paris, of course, will depend upon the war. If nothing happens to prevent, we hope to do all this, and be in Philadelphia again next June. Father sometimes says July but I rather think it will be June.
We are all together again, having met the others here this afternoon. They came in about an hour after our arrival, dripping wet. The morning having been fine, they had driven to Pompeii in an open carriage and, of course, had been caught in the storm, returning. The stars are out again.
This morning Father went to the Hotel Russie to see some gentleman, and also to call upon General Sheridan who is now here, and we went to take a little stroll among the shops. There is so much coral that one becomes perfectly sick of it. The streets were very much crowded, and between the mud, the danger of being run over, the jostling of the people, the wonderful perseverance of the cabmen, and the rain, which soon began to come down in torrents, one was in danger of being driven quite wild. I never took such a walk. This hotel is delightfully situated, about a hundred yards, or so, from the water, with a kind of park in front, which is said to be very lively on a clear afternoon. The hotel seems very nice, but we do not like it so much as the one at Rome, which was really the best we have been [in?], anywhere. Which indeed was very fortunate, as we made a longer sojourn there, than we have done at any other place, four weeks and a day. It seems strange indeed, that Christmas is so near, we can hardly realize it, magnolias and roses in bloom in the open air, and orange trees in abundance loaded with fruit. This is a queer climate one day so cold and raw that one might as well be in Greenland, the next like the middle of summer. Today one shivers in an astrican coat and tomorrow is incomparably warm in a silk suit.
I expect you are busy enough, at home, buying Christmas presents. I have seen a few vegetable and fruit stands dressed with green here, and one Church, but that is all. You can tell Miss Coles that we like our courier very much. The rain stopped for a little while, and the clouds cleared, partially, away, so that we had a pretty good view of the eclipse (it took place about an hour ago, two o’clock) I believe in Sicily it was expected [unreadable] one, here it was not quite so.
The rain is now coming down harder than ever. Give Somers a kiss for me and tell him the feelings of his aunts are much hurt that he loves them so little that he won’t even write to them when they are so far away. You may also tell him that when I answer his next letter I am going to send him a very pretty little picture. Probably the last will have more effect than the first part of the message. That is, if he likes to have the picture. We showed his photography to Monsignor Nardi who remarked “I should think there was some noise where that young gentleman is.”
Ellen received your letter this morning, and sends thanks. Father also had letters from Millie, and Grannie Lapsley. I was disappointed that there was not one for me, but I hope I may have several next time. Mary Welsh sends her love. You ask if we were not surprised to hear about Agnes Hoener [?], I should rather think we were, she is the very last person I should have thought of in connection with such an act, and it makes it seem stranger still when I think she is going to marry one who is not a Roman Catholic. You must excuse the very blotty appearance of these sheets, as it is the fault of the ink, which seems to mistake paper of all kinds for blotting paper. Remember me to all your girls. With much love to Mr. Smith and all the family.
Your loving sister