Letter from Alice Welsh to Her Sister Anna Maria Welsh from Constantinople, May 6, 1871

Here is one more letter in the series sent by Alice Welsh to her sister during her extended European tour:


May 6th, 1871

My dear Sister Anna

Before going to Syria I made up my mind that all my evenings should be devoted to writing, expecting in that way to find time to answer all letters, a duty, with regard to a few, that had been hanging heavy on my mind for several months. But instead of carrying out this good intention, I was always so sleepy when evening came that I almost invariably indulged myself by retiring at about nine & as we seldom finished dinner before eight and always had a good deal to occupy our tongues (mine has learnt to wag more incessantly than ever since I have been away) the proper time to write never arrived. However I am now going to turn over a fresh leaf and try to make up for my past laziness.

Thank you ever so much for the two letters I received the other day, one of March 14th, the other 21st. It was the first we had heard either of Mr. Smith’s or your sickness, and we were glad to hear at the same time that you were both so much better.

Pest, May 14th

My dearest Anna Maria

Most delighted was I this morning to receive two letters from you, written on the 16th & 27th of April. Thank you very much for them both and particularly for the latter. You cannot be more glad to have us home, than I would be to be there. I have enjoyed myself immensely, particularly during the two last months, but I never felt more like being at home than I do today.

Don’t be at all uneasy about Father. He is quite well and in good spirits. I don’t think either Egypt or Italy suited him, but notwithstanding the exposure in Syria the mode of life and climate seemed to be the very things he needed. I hope you will like the portrait when you become accustomed to it, although as I wrote you before, to me it is anything but satisfactory.

I cannot imagine what style of dress it is that you and Elizabeth are adopting for the children, but I am very sorry that they are to have pants on soon. I hope neither of you will fail to send the measures for the Scotch suits. I am quite sure you could not fail to like them. They are so exceedingly pretty, and we shall be very much disappointed if the children don’t wear them next winter, for we quite set our hearts upon it last spring when we first saw them. Why have you not sent the other measures that I asked for?

I am so sorry that Mrs. Goldsborough seems to be so miserable. Give her a great deal of love from me when next you see her. What nice presents you got for Millie. It was so so nice and cunning for Johnnie and Somers to send something too.

We had a much more comfortable time coming from Constantinople here than I had dared to hope. We left there at four last Tuesday afternoon. The trip up the Bosphorous was beautiful, but although the water was really very smooth, the vessel was badly built and rolled much more than there was any occasion for, and by the time we got into the Black Sea Mary Welsh and I felt it would be safer to retire below, which we did, and keeping perfectly quiet, together with strong smelling salts, had such a good effect that we escaped without suffering anything more serious than a bad headache and some rather sickish feelings.

At six and a half on Monday morning we arrived at Varna, and took the train for Rustchusk [now known as Ruse, in Bulgaria] on the Danube, where we arrived at six and half that evening and went to board the boat immediately. On this boat we remained until Friday at two P.M.

The accommodations were comfortable and everything clean, but as the company goes on the plan of making as much money as possible we were nearly starved. The passengers were nearly all Germans, four American gents, but I did not have much to say to them and they were not at all interesting. The days were horribly long & stupid, but the scenery was beautiful.

The first day the river banks were low with grand snow mountains in the distance, and the second the mountains rose from the river’s edge rocky and green, in many places quite high. The weather was clear & beautiful, although the wind was too high to be very pleasant. Arrived at Bazias we were obliged to wait until half past six for the train. We occupied the time by reading & taking dinner. The night was spent in the cars and we reached here yesterday morning at noon.

The Misses Biddle have determined to part from us at Vienna and as they preferred spending all the time there, went strait on and we join them again tomorrow. They expect to leave us on Wednesday or Thursday, although they have not the time to visit all the places we intend to. They are going to make a more extended tour than they at first proposed and most probably will not be in Philadelphia before the first of July. Miss Turner has now determined to remain with them instead of joining us, as she thought of doing. The reasons for her change of mind are that at present she has rather a severe attack of that malady called “homesickness” and that the B’s [Biddles?] are going to do so much more than she expected them to.

It was queer that Somers did not remember your uncle G. I hope his memory will be stronger in the case of his two loving aunts and Grandpa. Dear little soul, I do want to see him so, give him ever so many kisses for me. Don’t forget to write very often and tell me everything. Give a great deal of love to Mr. S. and all at home, also remember me to Hannah and both the Bridgets. We have never yet heard if you saw Mary’s Lizzie or what became of her. Mary has not been well for the few last days, but is better today. I suppose John is in London by this time. How strange it seems. Give my love to Maria. With a great deal to yourself.

Your most loving