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Nisbet, William F. (1835-1906)
Travel Letters written to his mother and sister while on an 1857-1858 trip to South America and an Extended Voyage “Around the World” from 1865-1868

Collection contains 61 letters, totaling some 572 pages, plus several incomplete letters and fragments, mailing envelopes, miscellaneous memoranda, documents and invoices pertaining to Nisbet’s travels. Plus miscellaneous family correspondence, ephemera, etc.

Highly interesting and detailed travel letters describing two trips undertaken by Nisbet, a wealthy and well connected New Yorker, one to South America in 1858, and a later journey around the world which lasted from 1865-1868. Nisbet was an intrepid traveler often journeying to places unfrequented by Americans including a trip up the Nile, the Holy Land, Russia, India, including Kashmir and the Himalayas, China and Japan. Nisbet’s letters are vivid and descriptive, some run to ten and twenty pages in length, and provide his impressions of each country and locale visited. His letters from Egypt, Palestine, India, China and Japan are of great interest. Nisbet in addition shipped home a large amount of artifacts and artworks amongst other items from each country. Nisbet was a wealthy young man, whose family owned properties both in Yonkers and in New York City, and whose income allowed him to undertake this extensive tour and to effectively retire from business in 1865, at the age of thirty. Nisbet’s correspondence is a superb collection of 19th century American travel letters, far beyond the typical “Grand Tour” letters often encountered.


Nisbet’s obituary in the New York Times of February 6, 1906 provides a brief synopsis of his life:

“William F. Nisbet of 400 West End Avenue, a well-known resident of this city, died yesterday of apoplexy, aged 71 years. On his mother's side he was of old Dutch stock. His father was a Presbyterian clergyman of Scotch descent. In early life he was interested in the Architectural Iron Works, but in 1865, retired from business and became an extensive traveler and art collector. He resided in Yonkers for many years, where for a long time he was President of the Board of Education. Mr. Nisbet was of striking and magnetic personality, and a gentleman of the old school. He leaves a wife and two sons.”

Sample Quotations - South American Trip

Rio Janeiro July 21, 1858

“Dear Sister,

I wrote several days since by the packet this I propose sending by the Lapwing the same vessel which brought me out. Since my last I have been engaged to such a degree that I have not as yet made certain excursions into the country which is my intention yet to do. I have made one tour only, that to Tepuca, a very rural mountainous district about 4 leagues from Rio. The mode of travel out of the cities of this country as indeed of all South American cities is on mule back. In this city 9/10 of the transportation is by mules or negroes, horses are as rare as elephants with us. … On my visit to Tepuca I rode a mule 8 hours dismounting but once in that time… At a distance of ten miles from Rio you find more wilderness. Forests seldom visited by the feet of man, varied by mountain and valley and streams which in unison form a picture of primitive nature which would be difficult to match within 2 days journey of New York. … There was some excitement created in the city yesterday on account of the refusal of some negroes who had been sold to go to the interior refusing to obey. They took possession of a house near the Consulado armed themselves with missiles of one kind and another and showed fight. The police who always go armed with musket and sword were ordered out to the scene. These police are mostly mulattoes and blacks and lack the manly determination and bearing of the white man they are unskillful in command on such emergencies. This was fully elicited on this occasion. They stationed themselves in the 2d story of a house on the same side [of the] street and fired glancing balls … the balls done no damage … but skipped along through the streets injuring several persons. The negroes only yielded when their weapons or missiles were exhausted. The sale of negroes to the interior is of such frequent occurrence that were it always made a casus belli the city would be in a state of perpetual insurrection. Two thirds of the people are negroes ½ of them slaves. You here see hundreds of native Africans of various tribes who have been sold in slavery. They are a great boon to the country in my opinion. My philanthropy for the negro is all exploded. If those who preach emancipation with such rampant arguments could see (as I have) 2 or 3 hundred of real Africans together and contrast their entire person mental and mechanical (say nothing about their physical for I have seen many that could they be turned to stone would vie with the bronze cast of Hercules or other types of physical strength grace & beauty) with the same number of mulattoes or of the negro one or two generations removed from the native they would methinks consider their humanity misspent… Very little of Brazil in the United States … I leave on next Sunday for Rio Grande a southern province in Brazil en route to Montevideo and Buenos Ayres. I intend making the journey from Rio Grande to Montevideo overland and see the country as it can be made in less time than by water. I shall probably stop in the La Platte cities about a month and then return to Rio and thence home…”

Rio Grande d’ Sul, Aug. 5th, 1858

“Dear Mother,

I last wrote from Rio Janeiro when on the eve of sailing for the south… Three days out brought us to St. Catharine’s situated on the long island of the same name. It is a most lovely spot. The island is upon the coast about 28” S latitude I think. It is about 30 miles long and 6 or 8 broad and divided from the main land by a strait about 2 miles wide… its valleys and mountain sides are highly cultivated as is fitly proved by its extensive orange groves and its immense exportation of farinha and beans. Most of the carriage is by mules and niggers although you now and then see an oxcart the wheels of which are pinned to the axletree, axletree and all turning. This is an ancient Roman custom and it is a fit example of the backwardness of this people to throw aside ancient customs or to adopt new ones. At this island are made by the negro women & Indians most beautiful flowers of fish scales also of feathers of various colours from numerous variety of Brazilian birds. I saw also flowers or wreaths for the head made of changeable or variegated wings of insects chiefly of the beetle tribe. I have several specimens of each which I shall bring home with me when I return… At 6 a.m. we weighed anchor for Rio Grande. … This city is situated about 6 miles from the sea in a wide but shallow bay. The entrance to the bay is over a bar of sand which at times is rendered so formidable by the heavy sea which breaks over it as to render entrance impossible save at the great hazard of ship and lives… Safely crossed we soon raised the city of Rio Grande from whence I write. The site is a perfect desert as is the country for many miles about it. The sand drifts to such an extent that immense walls are built in order to prevent the burying of the city. Its streets are very dirty and disgusting presenting as Shakespeare has it “such a rank compound of vilanous sweets as ever offended nostrils” It however is the only and best seaport of the Province of Rio Grande the most southern and flourishing province of Brazil composing a greater area than entire France. From this place a large lake runs north some 160 miles As I was unavoidably detained in this place some 8 or 9 days I concluded to take a trip up this lake to a large town or settlement at its head; from this town (Porto Alegre) I have just returned. I have still 3 or 4 days before I start overland for Montevideo. I go on horseback a distance of about 200 miles having previously boated about 125. As the region is very wild consisting of immense pampas or plains and the people rather barbarous I of course go armed cap a pie. I have a companion a Mr. Barker an old resident of this place who goes with me. We will make it in about 6 days from here. I shall stop in Montevideo a week or two on business and then as long in Buenos Ayres then return to Rio. Don’t go to my office for news of me as I write you oftener than I write there or at least as often…”

Buenos Ayres, Sep. 10, 1858

“Dear Sister,

I trust you will have received mine from Montevideo ere this arrives I write to the States by about every opportunity which my changeable life presents some go by steam via England, some by sail and direct but so great is the distance and so unreliable the various stages of the passage that you may never receive many that have left my hands… Since I last wrote you I have crossed the River Platte from Montevideo to Buenos Ayres. I have been here but two days but am perfectly at home. It has been my luck to arrive at the all the places to which I have been drawn on holidays. The day of my arrival in Rio or the following morn dawned upon St. George’s day. That of my entry into Montevideo was 25th de Augusto. The 4th of July of this one horse republic, and lastly I arrived here on the day celebrated by the Spaniards as the anniversary of the birthday of the Virgin Mary.  Every where in South America ones attention is awakened to the great number and the barrier which these too frequent feast days offer to business and prosperity. Many of the natives complain bitterly of this and petitions signed by large masses of people and wealthy ones have been sent to the Pope soliciting him to exempt the people from the observance of many of these religious days. Here they have a revolution every few years (might be safe to say months at times) and with each change of party or for each victory or political event must be named an yearly anniversary to be kept up with all the pomp and parade of state and people… There is an old church or cathedral here which is better than 300 years old, I doubt if on the western continent is to be found another to match it in years. The city is to the stranger made easy being very level and streets all at right angles… The houses built generally around a hollow square and one or two stories in height are peculiarly noticeable for their solidity and their appearance as if closed to strangers. The windows all strongly barred give a prison like aspect to the dwellings. … The harbor however is most miserable. It is indeed to be wondered at that such a city … should ever have grown up under the disadvantages of the harbor. Boats of the smallest tonnage can approach only within a mile of the city… It is only the immense trade in hides and jerked beef, and wool which could for one moment enable this place to maintain such prestige… I shall stope here only until the 28th of this month…”

Sample Quotations – “Round the World” Trip Letters


“No 5 Cairo, Egypt Dec. 10, 1865

My dear Mother and Sister,

Here we sit taking a cup of tea and smoking good Lata Kea tobacco, in quaint, dirty, oriental Cairo by far the most unclean city that I ever yet set my foot into… We came up to Cairo on Thursday by rail it is 130 miles over a rich country, perfectly flat and cultivated by irrigation water wheels turned by oxen are seen on every hand lifting water from a canal & to a higher level in order that fields as flat as a table may be inundated the sediment allowed to settle and then the water is drawn off. Extensive fields of cotton ripe but unpicked of course were passed. Numerous villages built of clay one story high and without glased windows or doors were passed. Nothing more wretched in fact or in aspect can be imagined than these hovel villages of the poor Egyptians. Donkeys, camels, dogs & cats seemed to live with them on equal footing. There is every shade of white & black of human kind here Abyssinians yellow. Nubians black. A more distant African race jet dead black. Egyptians yellow but there is no distinction made between colors. Many of the most intelligent dragomen are very black and speak 2 or 3 or 4 languages.  There is now no legalized slavery here although there are plenty of slaves. Yet any slave can go before the consuls or authorities and claim & get his or her freedom.

Yet I have been long enough in this beautiful valley of the Nile to note the wretchedness of its people … The great fault is in the head of the people the viceroy and the government.

Ishmael Pacha seeks only the promotion of private and family interests. Manufactures, agriculture, commercial enterprise all are dwindling for lack of encouragement and legislation. No man living has such an opportunity to immortalize himself and recuperate, invigorate a great country as this viceroy. The people are not alone victims to a long continued neglect of opportunities but they are equally cursed by their system of religion which holds them aloof from believers in Christain faith. … I was in Mehemet Ali’s mosque in the citadel this morning & to my surprise there was a woman there. A living she Saint in tatters and disgustingly dirty.

I have been parleying with various dragomen since my arrival in regard to going up the river. I find everything here monstrously high and a boat up the river for two persons to 2d cataract all food &c included costs not less than 350 pounds sterling or $ 1750 – dollars -  £500 – 550 will take 4 persons up. This is three or four times the price of 5 years ago. This augmentation is owing to various causes but chiefly to the cattle murrain which has destroyed many thousands of sheep and cattle for two years. And to the high price of cereals and vegetables caused by the extraordinary attention given to the cultivation of cotton since our rebellion broke out. In the city of Alexandria rents have quadrupled in 3 years or so – here greatly increased. …”


“No. 6 Cairo, Egypt Dec. 22d 1865

My dear Mother & Sister,

…To night I have been making out contract with dragoman to go up the Nile and in 2 days (by Christmas) we shall be on the water. There are three of us my companions are excellent and gentlemen. One is a son of one of the wealthiest men in New York Meres Taylor, the other a young man of fortune Mr. Wood and an old acquaintance… We have a splendid boat, large and nicely furnished a dragoman, captain, two waiters, rudderman and ten sailors to pull or row when there is no wind. There are no Americans here this winter & precious few English. Only two boats have gone up. We go to 2d cataracat or start with that intent…”


“No. 8 Thebes Upper Egypt, January 16, 1866

My dear Mother & Sister,

Two and a half hours ago (after a passage of 20 days) our Dahabechr came up under full sail to the east bank of the Nile that portion of ancient Thebes known as Luxor, two minutes more and my feet kissed the ground which I had so longed to see. … Thus far our journey has been but a pleasure excursion – Up at 9 a.m. take coffee or tea or chocolate – then if no wind a stroll on shore under the palm & accacea trees then to breakfast go on shore with gun & shoot pigeons or if we are under sail sit down in cabin on divans or on the upper deck and read. To understand thoroughly this country its ancient & modern history requires much reading… Dinner comes at 6 & then coffee and pipes take up two or 3 hours. Study of French writing up my journal letters &c keep me busy so that I am scarcely ever in my berth before 1 or 2 o’c. … Today commences  in all mahometan countries the fast of Ramadan when all strict Mahommetans neither eat nor drink between the rising & setting of the sun. This lasts a month and it is held in great strictness by most of the poor & rich. … The people of Egypt outside of one or two of its large cities live almost entirely on vegetable food – Lentils (a kind of bean) bread made of flour (of wheat or doro a kind of corn) but coarse because of the hull being ground with it & not separated and onions are the staple articles of diet of the great masses. Clothing: Adam & Eve had no less when they were struck with shame Garments of cotton or coarse wool are made with few stitches. Shoes are rarely seen. Heads are generally shaved so combs are useless. They all wash in the Nile or not at all and the winds & sand storms are warded from their heads by mud houses covered with thatch of palm branches – no wooden floors or carpets here to be washed or swept, no furniture to be dusted… Irrigation & ploughing & reaping are the toils of the land – the laborers are plenty and the work light. With this state of affairs is it any wonder that the people are degraded no schools in the land so now & then the beneficent missionary societies open one or now & then in the larger towns a native school is opened the scholars taught until they know a little something & are then hurried off by Government orders upon Government duties – A most unhappy people are these Egyptians living under an accursed tyranny – During 20 days on the Nile I have seen thousands of these poor natives herded together in boats as thick as they could stand (no exaggeration) going down the river to work on the R. Road which viceroy is now building between Cairo & Thebes on the western bank. He builds this road entirely by forced labor if you know what that means. It means that he makes an order for 50,000 men more or less (that was his last order) & that each town of Egypt is apportioned its quota which is collected by the sheikh or president of the town who uses no system of draft … but selcts at will whoever he chooses of course he is open to bribery & most of them make fortunes in that way. Boys of 12 years & men of 60 are taken & summarily sent off from their families. But this is not the worst they get no pay & furnish their own provisions. … They work 12 hours per day under merciless drivers who force them sick or well. …

We now start for 2d cataract …”

“No. 9 On board dahabukr “Nubia” River Nile 10 miles N of Derr & about 850 miles from mouth of river, Feby. 3rd 1866

My dear Mother & Sister,

I wrote last and sent a letter from Luxor it was dated 18th Jany. We stopped there two days … Luxor is a portion of the ancient city of Thebes and is situated upon the East bank. Karnak another portion & upon the same bank, while Kornna another portion lies upon the west side of the river… Neither of them now anything more than ancient ruins of temples bordered or surrounded by a few miserable hovels of sundried brick or mud walls… [There follows a lengthy description of the tombs, temples and other sites visited, including those of Ramses 2nd and 3rd, Karnak] … On our way down we started a jackal and soon entered a depression in the mountain side and half way up where were the gaping mouths of natural caves at the doors of which were strewn quantities of human bones and quantities of mummy cloth torn in shreds. Here an arm there a leg, a skull or a trunk the dissection of the poor arab antique hunters who had been tearing or unwrapping these mummies to get the scarabaeus or other jewels from their persons. …

On January 20th we left Luxor with a fair wind for Aswan the foot of the 1st cataract … stopping but twice on the way once at Eine where the crew made their bread & where I took donkey & guide & went several miles out into the desert to visit the oldest Christian convent in Egypt. Established by Empress Helena in honor of the martyrs killed by Diocletian. The convent stands far off upon the borders of the desert a repulsive pile of brick one story high. We entered by a low door to which I had to stoop & found ourselves within a dusty dirty straw covered court where sat a black woman almost nude & engaged in trapping the vermin from her pickaninny’s head. We were received by two men who we were told were monks they however neither dressed nor acted like monks… These were sanctuaries but with civilized people they would hardly have been used for pig pens …

[There follows a lengthy description of being pulled through the first cataract] … We were 3 days getting through the cataract which consists of 4 considerable rapids the last the greatest… One and a half miles above the last fall and standing sentinel like before the gate between the rocks ere the descent of the water stands the island of Philae sacred to the Ancients and upon which are the ruins of some of the most tasteful and elegant temples. In it fable reports Osoris the all powerful god of the Nile to be buried… 100 miles more & we shall be at 2nd cataract beyond which we shall go 35 miles to Sennet by camels & then commence our return … Above the 1st cataract the valley is very narrow & almost entirely usurped by the width of the river whose banks are generally 20 ft high … at the tops of which stretch banks of deep golden sand in which no vegetation will grow save here and there a palm tree which root close to the brink. Yet there is vegetation which is cultivated upon the almost perpendicular banks … are deeply green with peas and lentils the chief staples of the poor Egyptians diet… We pass frequently a temple standing like skeletons of departed glory in solitary places oft half buried in the engulfing drifts of sand. I wish I was prepared for it & had companions eager for it should quit the boat at 2d cataract & go on into the center of Africa. I should love to follow up the Nile to its sources and visit unknown parts surrounded with all the risks and excitements of travelling among savages. Capts Speke & Grant have done far more than the world think in exploring & discovering the feeders of the once mysterious Nile…”

“No 12 Cairo Egypt Mch 22, 1866

My dear Mother & Sister,

Once more in Egypts heart. We completed our Nile voyage on 17th March … we bid good bye to our faithful crew and farewell to the staunch little craft which for nearly three months had been our home… I am doubtful if all of my letters have or ever will reach their destination… You can however always know wether you have received all or not from the number as I number each letter sent. We left Thebes on 3d March and made during our voyage down several excursions which were very interesting & some of them full of adventure. We had strong NW wind most of the time which was almost sufficient to counteract the force of the current & made the voyage irksome. We rode 24 miles one hot day to the ruins of Abydus and walked several more.

Another day we spent at Sioit where we saw a very strange phase of religious fanaticism or it might better be termed of the sacreligious ignorance of the moslems. It was a dance at the tomb or grave of a dervish. These dervishes are sort of moslem priests or holy men who dress strangely & like beggars living by charity and having their abode in certain buildings & places or wandering through the country. They are wonderful fanatics & perform most marvelous things under the influences of high excitement. They often eat serpents & one or two instances have occurred of them eating glass…

Our most to be remembered adventure was a visit to the crockodile caves of Moabdeh near Manfelout. We entered and traversed the dungeon, ragged rock mazes of this great cave by crawling , creeping & at times walking upright… We penetrated as far as 25 minutes would carry us and stood amid cords of mummified crockodiles crawled over unknown depths of reptiles & human mummies. On every side save above countless numbers of crocks were packed, packed in the crevices of the rocks, packed in its depths – some were 15 ft long some 10 in – the latter always done up in bundles of a dozen or more like cigars. … Once more on the river we stopped only at the Pyramids of Gheseh the great pyramids of the world…  We came back to Cairo at the Hotel & are well satisfied with our 3 months voyage. Here we shall remain a few days & thence to Syria & Palestine – We shall probably go to Suez see the French Canal which is intended to connect the Mediterranean & Red Seas … We had intended to cross the Great desert by Mount Sinai, Akeba, Petra & Hebron to Jerusalem but all sorts of rumors are rife in regard to strife between the Alawi & other Bedouins between Akaba & Petra & we have abandoned the route & now propose to go to Alexandria & thence by sea to Beyrout thence to Jerusalem & through Palestine to Syria… Quite a number of Americans have been in Egypt this winter but very few of them have been up the Nile. …The English traveler Palgrave has just left and tomorrow I dine with him so you see we have some society here…”

“No. 13 Alexandria Mch 29th 1866

My dear Mother & Sister,

… I leave in steamer early in morning go on board to night and will probably be in Beyrout in 3 days … We have taken a dragoman for 60 days in Syria & Palestine & have our cook the same Mohammed we had on the Nile a good & trusty fellow. We have all our tents, table, chairs… crockery, provisions &c with us & shall in less than a week be fairly in the saddle for 2 or 3 months a glorious life I tell you…”

“No. 15 Jerusalem 23d Apl. 1866

My Dear Mother & Sister,

It is 1:30 p.m. I have been in Jerusalem half an hour … I last wrote you from Beyrout the morning I set out therefrom to journey along the coast southward to Jerusalem. I believe it was on the 6th by reason of a side excursion to El Jun a drouse village in the mountains 3 hours from the ancient city of Sidon … we were two days in reaching Sidon. Near El Jun is an old convent lastly occupied by Lady Hester Stanhope a strange Englishwoman here she lived with a troop of Albanians about her excluding all Europeans and here she died and was deserted by her retinue of servants ere she was buried… W came down to Tyre, Akka, Mt. Carmel where I dined with the monks of the old convent & slept there one night then returned to the plain of Akka …  next morning crossed the plain of Sharon to Ceaserea on the coast the ruins of the former capital of Palestine. Here we encamped within the ruins & close upon the shores of the Mediterranean. We were now in a region which the handbooks & the journals of travelers tell us is infested with wandering Bedouins and robbers, we however are in Jerusalem after traversing the entire length of the plain of Sharon & not a hostile being have we seen. Our cortege consists of 7 mules, 3 donkeys & 5 horses (15 animals) and 9 men (beside ourselves) Dragomen, cook, muleteers &c. This is our usual accompanying force myself & companion alone are armed but we are well armed. We had a Turkish soldier as guard a portion of the way from Carmel, but he was no use as guide and I think would be the first to run in Emergency…”

“No 17 Nazareth Palestine May 13, 66

My dear Mother & Sister,

I wrote you last on the 3d inst and four days after left Jerusalem to journey northward. It was late in the day before we struck our tents on top of the Mount of Olives opposite Jerusalem. We went up there for one day and one night… It was 9 oc p.m. when our Bedouin guide led us up to our tents at the fountain of Jacob just south of Bethel… It is now a wretched village of a dozen miserable huts perched on the summit of a little tell. Our 2d nights encampment was at Nablous the most picturesque and delightful situation of any place I have seen in Palestine… He confirmed that the sect of Samaritans was thinning out & that it would be extinct at no distant day. The Turk taxes them with severe discrimination and like all Christian sects they are persecuted by the Moslems. There is something strange about the passing away of this sect next oldest to the Jews themselves. … Our next days ride was through Samaria to Jenin… where we encamped. … Here we heard awful tales of blood & murder that the Bedouins about Mt. Tabor were fighting with trans Jordanic tribes – that the day before 22 had been killed… Our tents were pitched within the low walls of the Greek convent and after dinner we had a visit from the Greek Bishop of Nazereth who was there on occasion of some religious festival. … He told us that news had just reached Nazareth of the breaking out of war between Austria & Prussia & of the recent killing of the sheikh of Jenin & 7 men by a party of Bedouins. Said the Bedouins on this side of the Jordan were greatly excited & threatened an outbreak…

Magdala 17 May-

This is on the sea of Gallilee… and was the birth place of Mary Magdalen… Our tents are pitched 1/8 mile from the lake shore close under a great hill and within a few hundred feet of the modern Arab village of Mefdel the unworthy occupant of the site of Magdalen. It covers about an acre with its 20 or 30 one story flat roofed rude & wretched stone hovels – and its inhabitants are a thievish wretched set of arabs… The Jews in Palestine are a wretched looking set and are dreadfully persecuted. Last night at safed some moslems came about our kitchen tent to talk & trade with our cook & dragoman, a Jew offered. As I was resting on my bed I saw two of the moslems knock his hat off & kick it. The Jew picked it up & without a word walked off. I ran out & ordered the wretched moslems off & not to return, and told the Jew to remain…  We had made up our minds to go down the west shore of the sea cross the Jordan and make an excursion into the Hansan & around the entire sea. Over the Jordan is called dangerous ground as there is no government there than that of the nomadic Bedouins. We therefore sent to the governor of Tiberius asking a sufficient escort of soldiers to guarantee our safety & that of our luggage train. He came to our tent promised to send ten men with us to the camp of an officer at the hot spring of Hamman esh Shikh in a wady 2 hours east of the Jordan. We would there procure the necessary guard for our further journey…. We forded the Jordan ½ a mile below the lake… crossing the plain of Ghos we entered the deep wady wherein flows the Mandhur river …

In 15 minutes we started and passed up the narrow valley through thistles 5 or 6 feet high… and after a severe climb of 1 ½ hours we at last stood upon the grand plateau of the Hausan which is some 2000 feet above the sea of Gallilee … It is the grazing & wandering ground of these wild savage Bedouins. We soon came upon a small encampment of them … We passed one little village called Drloosa which I have nowhere seen mentioned by any traveler (In fact I have read no travelller who had ever taken this route) It was a collection of miserable huts mostly deserted as the locusts have for two years destroyed every green thing in this part and the Bedouins have driven their herds elsewhere…. 

Safed 18 May

Here we are to night wrapped in overcoats while last night we were 2000 ft lower in the pit of Gallilee melting… It is not an ancient city but has long been a stronghold of the Jews … The turks have taken all the casing stones away and left only the heart of rubble. Seen from a distance it is a grand ruin one of the most picturesque in all Palestine. The great earthquake of 1837 overturned the walls & destroyed the houses of the town some 5000 people were buried….

Traveling in the East is the most expensive in the world & when I get in Europe I shall spend less. Yet what I spend is well spent & I shall never regret it…”

“No. 18 Damascus May 31, 1866

My dear Mother & Sister

… We leave today for Baalbeck & the Cedars & shall have 10 days of hard riding through the mountains  want to arrive at Beyrout in time to take the steamer (of 10 June when we shall go to Athens (Greece) & Constantinople & the probably up the Danube to Vienna en route to Paris…”

“No. 20 Constantinople June 28, 1866

My dear Mother & sister,

I arrived here at 10 oc this morning after having spent 12 days in a Turkish Lazaretto at the Asiatic Dardanelles 12 days is bad or worse than most prisons. … We were assured that we should meet no quarantine as on the 7th she left Alexia in Egypt & at that date not a case of cholera had been reported there, … Yet on our arrival at Smyrna on 14th we were at once put under quarantine & ordered to proceed up the straits of Dardanelles to Abydos there to go into Lazaretto (which means in Turkey the worst sort of a prison enclosure and the worst sort of treatment, food &c) … Here there were 54 rooms and into this oven 500 passengers were crammed. Each room 15 x 18 feet … ceiling 10 ft 4 windows secured by iron bars – grates & not one piece of furniture at first. We finally had beds on floor, 2 chairs a board to dine on, 2 bottles for candlesticks. The walls were smeared with filth – the floor full of fleas & vermin. The air was foetid & tainted & the authorities refused to give us chloride of lime to cleanse & disinfect. Our meals were cooked 3 miles away at a small town & sent up. They were poor & scanty but we were charged 16/- = $ 4 per day for them & beds – almost twice what is charged in some eastern hotels… I wrote to Constantinople and had a great basket full of potted meats, fruits biscuits sardines cheese, bologna sausage &c &c sent which reached me in 4 days. Besides I wrote to the American consul at Dardanelles & got apricots & pears. I had taken an old dragoman with me as far as Constantinople & here in Lazaretto he proved of great good to the party, without him we should have fared hard… The large mass of them were pilgrims returning from Jerusalem & Mecca The Christian & moslem shrines. Here were Russians, Turks, Greeks, Circassians, Albanians, Bulgarians, Arabians, Nubians, Chinese, Syrians, Austrians, Persians, French, English, Americans. Christians, Jews, Moslems, such a variety of costumes, customs and manners can not be seen even in any eastern city. There was a large number of poor Russian women who had been to Jerusalem – and were now returning to their homes upon the far off steppes of western Russia the distant borders of Siberia the great valleys of the Don & Volga, the Caucasus & northern Russia… many had not food or wherewith to buy it & we ourselves fed each day some 20 poor women with rice &c.

5 times each day a muezzin … stood out in the square and called the true believers to prayer and once each day a party of 20 odd moslems prostrated and girated in accord with the movement of a leader. We had quarrels and fights there too. There were 3 harems (or families of wives) there. One old Turk had his 7 wives and he kept them shut up close. When they came out to air themselves it was always with their mouths & faces, except eyes covered up as is usual in these Eastern lands …

Constantinople is magnificent in its situation Grand in its great mosques and barracks. Its bazaars are far superior in stock and variety to those of Cairo or Damascus. There is no cholera here at all although it is just a year since today that it broke out here and ceased not its ravages until 1/20 of its population (or almost 45,000) We shall stay here a week or so & then go up the Danube to Pesth & Vienna. News came here to day of a great battle between Austrians & Italians in which the latter lost the day. Also of a report of a victory by the Austrians over the Prussians. A big war is brewing & we shall have it this summer, if it will keep a few Americans at home it will leave Switzerland less crowded with them. …

I am in capital health and spend a few minutes each day in anathematizing the Turks. It is a standing disgrace to civilized Europe that the Turks are permitted to control these beautiful seas and lands – They should be swept away from Europe at once…”

“No. 21 Pesth, Hungary July 12th, 1866

My dear Mother & Sister,

… Danube is the Mississippi of Europe many steamers on it yet the people & country are wild. Pesth I like hugely it is a well built city of Eastern Austria & the Magyar Capital (Hungarian) … Across the river is the town of Buda and on the hill right above the river is one of the Royal Palaces of Austria… The Empress arrived on the 5th & visited the wounded Austrian soldiers 10,000 of whom are quartered about Pesth. I saw her just after my arrival, she was returning from her visit to the wounded.

Her escort was simple… Yet there was no boisterous crowd, no enthusiasm simply a respectful & quiet recognition. The streets were not at all crowded, in fact you could have raced horses over its length & breadth without running over many. … You will have read ere this reaches you of the defeat of the Austrians by the Prussians on the Elbe. Great loss on the Austrian side stated at 80,000 men. It is a severe blow, nearly a 6th of there army annihilated at a single stroke – the Prussians marching on toward Vienna. The Hungarians you will recollect insurrected against Austria in 1848 – Kossuth was their leader. Now they are fighting on the Austrian side & many are volunteering. Yet Austria has so often played them false that they do not volunteer as freely as they would had not their faith & rights been tampered with. …

Vienna 14 July 1866

I arrived here last night about dusk, was all day on the road from Pesth. Passed numerous trains loaded with the Imperial household treasures and numerous troops of soldiers with all the ponderous enginery of war. I shall stay here 4 or 5 days or so & then on to Paris… I have not met one American in these parts as yet…”

“No. 22 Paris July 29, 1866

My dear Mother & Sister,

… I spent several days in Vienna the wealthy people had mostly left and carried off their valuables the roads were blocked up with people fleeing the city to escape the anticipated attack & siege of the Prussians. On the other hand the well to do peasants were flocking in from the country north of Vienna to escape the Prussians. Every one expected each day to hear the Prussian guns and a military guard took possession of the high spire or tower of St. Stephens Cathedral the highest in Vienna where they scanned all day the northern plain the old fields of Wagram & Austerlitz to look for the approaching enemy. Great numbers of troops were in & about the city. In the Prater or public park some 30,000 were encamped while on the north bank of the Danube a very large force were occupied in building a chain of forts. The people were gloomy and trembled for the future. Yet Vienna always called so gay & dissipated had even then its light life… It was a very interesting time in Germany. The R Roads were loaded down with war material & soldiers. Great trains of locomotives & cars were being run beyond the enemies reach. The crown valuables, the Empress & her family all were sent off to Buda… After Vienna I went to Munich the capital of Bavaria a city full of works of art & artists. Bavaria has taken up the cause with Austria and there too everything looked war like. Everyone was discouraged almost agast at the fortune of Prussia. …”

“No. 26 Christiania, Norway 22 Sept. ‘66

My dear Mother & Sister,

You will see I am on the move. I arrived here 2 days ago and leave tomorrow morning  to go up into the country for 3 weeks or so. I go across the country to Bergen on the Atlantic coast … The Emigration of Norwegians to America this year has been great. Estimated from 20 to 30,000 this from a nation. They leave a charming but mostly sterile land one teeming with grand history and misty romance … Ten years ago not more than one or two Americans visited Norway each year. This year some 50 have been here…”

“No. 27 Christiansund, Norway Oct 8th, ‘66

My Dear Mother & Sister,

… One posts by boat as he does by horses in the interior (prices per mile being in both cases fixed by Government Tariff) & rowed down to Utne 4 ½ hours arrived at midnight only 4 or 5 houses there one of which was an inn knocked & door was opened people turned out & in one hour had a dinner or supper of game, beer, applesauce, cake &c. It proved the best inn in Norway… As to game they actually give it to you everywhere. You don’t get beef anywhere though & on the coast towns one gets fish until he is tired of them. I am very fond of little herring such as they make anchovies of. They are capital fried & here is the place for them. Sometimes as many as 10,000 barrels of herring are taken in one catch by one great net. Speaking of game I forgot to mention reindeer the great game of the country. I have eaten it several times it is not as good as beef or even red deer meat (venison) I expect to be in Trondheim tomorrow afternoon stay there a day & then post back over the country to the head of Morsen lake & over it to Christiana Will be back in about 2 weeks & then Stockholm…”

“No 29 St. Petersburg, Russia Nov. 14/66

My dear Mother & Sister,

I last wrote you from Stockholm on 1st Nov I left that place in steamer and crossed the gulf of Bothnia to Finland… so after three days at H[elsingfors] I took another carriage & posted 400 versts 275 English miles to St. Petersburg. This makes between 4 & 500 miles by carriage through Finland. I cannot say that Finland is an interesting country at this season … I reached the Russian frontier at midnight and had to turn out with my passport &c. The big guard who stood at the pole which prevents vehicles from crossing the line until examined was very clever & in order to prevent the trouble of unlashing my trunks as well as to escape the possible annoyance of duty upon a few things in my luggage I quietly dropped a couple of marks about (40¢) into his hand. Lightning don’t flash quicker than he wheeled on his heel lifted the gate & away we rattled…. It was 3:30 when I arrived in the heart of the city. I found the first hotel full not a room & driving a mite further was fortunate to get lodgings. The marriage of the Caravalet Alexander with the Princess Dagmar of Denmark had taken place the day before… and the city was still full of strangers & visitors… St. Petersburg this is the grandest city in many respects I have ever seen … I was too late for the marriage which took place on Oct 28th Russian time or Nov 9th our time (we are 12 days ahead of Russian time) but I have seen most of the festivities since. The illumination last Sunday night was something superb & ever to be remembered. The Quay buildings on either bank of the Neva the principal street Nevski and the principal buildings everywhere were sheets of flame. I do not think I exaggerate when I say that on the great bureau building opposite the winter palace 50,000 cups of oil were placed all over the front… there were stars of flame crowns of flame. As & Ws (the initial of the bride & groom) of flame, double eagles of flame and hundreds of nondescripts of flame… I rode in a drosky down the Nevski (the Broadway) it is 150 ft wide & it was so dazzlingly bright as to hurt ones eyes. There was an endless row carriages up & an endless one down moving by fits & starts as they could. There was a moving river of people with eddies on either hand – Such a display of furs. Every man with his giant fur coat very nearly to his feet & with a collar which when put up hides the wearer. Women double wadded & looking like small balloons in their comfortable roundness & shoulder furs, fur caps & a sort of capote for the head & neck used by both sexes to keep the wind off. Yesterday a military parade – It was quite splendid although not Russia’s best. Regiments of cuirassiers, of lancers, of Cossacks mounted in regiments of black, small bay & gray horses & moving in line of battle in full trot over the frozen ground. The breath from the nostrils of the lines of horses seeming to come from orderly rows of moving locomotives… shall stay for a couple of weeks or so & then to Moscow by Rail Road … I meet no Americans in North Europe I suppose I shall find oceans of them in Italy…”

“No. 30 Moscow, Russia, Dec. 18, 1866

“My dear Mother & Sister,

… I was in St. Petersburg over 3 weeks & arrived here on 6th. I enjoyed myself in St. P and saw it pretty thoroughly. On 3d Dec. I went to the Noblian ball the great ball of each season. It was a bewildering scene of splendor – outside the front of the building was a sheet of illumination. The ball room one of the finest in Europe. I went at 11 o’clock and in 5 minutes after we arrived the Emperor & Imperial family occupied the canopied dais erected for them on one side of the ball room. The floor was a jam of moving colors & gold lace. A colossal bouquet in motion. For almost every man was in uniform. Either military or Ambassadorial. Ladies were gorgeous & rich in costume white predominating and were loaded down with jewels, diamonds predominating. The Emperor leaving his family stepped down upon the floor the crowd broke before him while he advanced & saluted on either hand, now & then stopping an instant to take the hand of some veteran of his army or to speak with some noble woman of his court. Yet he stopped but an instant & kept a direction leading toward one corner where could be seen towering over the throng two heads one covered with a great & magnificent turban of black Astrakan about the upper portion of which was wrapped coils of pure white cashmere. The other bore an immense hat of pure white Astrakan (Somewhat similar to the bear skin hats of the Huzzars) These were Shamyl & his son Caucassians. The old man wore a long gray beard & was dressed in a loose caftan or bernous white as drifted snow. The Emperor approached freely extended his hand to the old man who shook it warmly & then both entered into a cheerful conversation which lasted 5 minutes. This Shamyl is renowned in Europe & for 30 years he fought against the Russians in his native mountains at last he surrendered & is now one of the warmest admirers of the Czar. … I did not see him extend his hand to the parvenu who he last summer ennobled for having saved him from assassination. Yet he stood in the crowd looking on. He is a man of perhaps 35 and was an apprentice to a hatter in St. Petersburg but without education & poor. Now he has an estate, an annuity, a patent of nobility, & is fast educating.Yet is he looked down upon by the nobles. I cannot understand the policy of making such a man a noble. I can that of giving him a fortune.

You should have seen the coronets worn by the Grand Duchess Constantine & by Princess Dagmar the bride of Russia. I think the diamonds on the former were worth at least a couple of millions. About her neck 3 strings each stone as large as hazlenuts. Dagmar looked beautiful. She is in my eyes the prettiest princess in Europe & probably the most perfect woman of them all. Around her neck were hung in coils like cable chain strings of brilliants of the 1st water & magnitude. The Princess & some others danced or rather walked the stately Polonaise. There was little dancing every one seemd to be estimating the others. Ambassadors were numerous, the one which appeared to me the greatest object was one representing the “Phantom government” of the Mexican Imperialists. He seemed conscious of some imposition & I think will soon want a place… I like Moscow & since my arrival have scarcely had time to sleep or eat much less to write… There are scarcely any Americans in Russia save a few who live at Petersburg & Moscow engaged in business. I do not get papers here. I think they are stopped by the censor as the government is very strict about such things…”

“No 31 Moscow Jany 10 ‘67

“My dear Mother & Sister,

I am a little surprised on looking at my memoranda book to see that my last was so far back (Dec.18). But time flies so rapidly & is so thoroughly occupied that weeks seem but as days… We are having weather thoroughly winter & Russian Several days this week the thermometer stood 22 Beaumur (the French authority) equal to 18 below zero Fahrenheit… Very little walking is done. Small sleighs holding two besides the mujik or driver are very numerous & riding is cheap. You are obliged to bargain with the drivers any ride you take… Russian time is 12 days behind our time – hence to day is 29 Dec & this week is & has been one of pleasure to all Russians. Yesterday I found it impossible to get a half hours repairing to a coat. No one working and most of the common people drunk and good natured, for the Russians are a good natured people & even when two men get to pounding each other they do it on the back of the head & shoulders & never in the face like the English and Junkers…

Moscow is cold for outdoor amusements … Then they have bear fights where bears are brought into a pit & dogs let in to kill them. This last amusement has not yet commenced as it is rather cold to drive into the suburbs & sit & witness such things with thermometer much below zero… The streets, the bazarrs, the 485 places of worship of which 250 are regular churches, 20 convents & 180 Government buildings all interest the traveler. At night there are theaters, ballets, masked balls, clubs &c. A new ballet called the czar’s daughter was produced here 2 or 3 weeks ago. It is very beautiful both “miz en scene” & costumes and entirely unique. It is purely Russian & in it are introduced the costumes & dances of many of the tribes of Europe & Asia which in the aggregate make up the huge Russian Empire. Finnish, Polish, Bohemian, Little Russian, Cossack, Siberian, Circassian, Georgian, Perisan &c &c. The dancers are all Russian & not surpassed if equaled by any in the world. Last night was a wonder in Moscow. Especially did the mujiks & common Russians gape & stare. For the first time the streets were lighted with gas & several fine illuminations took place. The gas posts stand as yet side by side with the old oil lamps. Which are also lit I suppose because the contract for same is not yet expired. Moscow is very rich and is strange that they have so long done without gas. Since the Emancipation of the serfs 5 years ago great numbers of the nobility have been impoverished & as the ukase swept away the authority over the serfs they find broad acres of no value without labor to till them. The law here is no respector of persons unless they have money. So that it is a common thing now a days to find princes & princesses in jail for debt – for here debtors can at any time be imprisoned. I have had a nobleman clad in old clothes ask alms of me in the public streets of Moscow. Moscow is not so gay now as then for most of these nobles have no surplus means to keep up town houses in addition to their country one. The nobles bred to no vocation can do nothing and deprived of the serfs are often mere cultivated beggars, who have the recollection of latter days to make them more miserable. The merchants of Moscow are by far the richest class. Many of them are very rich 20,000,000 of roubles ($14,000,000) is the position of several. It is common to see a man standing in an open shop all day selling a few articles and yet this man be worth millions. Theft & dishonesty of every character has full sway among all classes in Russia. Talk of American defaulters of repudiators & the specie-swindlers in all its phases of the petty thefts of servants & officals in our own land It is a paradise in honesty to Russia. I firmly believe that among the merchants & nobility of Russia there is less honor & integrity than among any other first class nation or civilized people & as to the servants the workmen, not 10 out of the hundreds of thousands in Moscow & elsewhere are honest. In some factories here every workman’s person is examined before he is allowed to leave the factory. Men will put tallow under their shirts (and down their throats) candles in the boots & up the sleeves, brass cuttings in their hair, & yet when caught at it deny that they know how they came there… To make complaint against a petty theif or any other entails endless trouble & expense. One man here had a nice harness stolen reported it to the police, was sent for every day for 2 months to come & identify paid out as much as the harness cost & never got it. Sometime after he had another stolen, but resolved to say nothing about it 3 or 4 days the police called & asked him if he had lost a harness. He said he had but that an effort to recover the last had cost him so uch time & money that he had resolved not to attempt the recovery of this. The officer then told him that for not entering complaint he was liable to 300 roubles fine (5 times the cost of the harness) – that he must go to headquarters & pay it. … In the courts the man who bribes most freely & heavily is always the successful man.

I have been to dine this evening with two American travelers, one Appleton of Boston & Longfellow, son of the poet. They are the only travelers here that I know of. Several days ago Dr. Thompson of the N. Y. Tabernacle & his wife were here for 3 days. I shall remain until holidays are over a week or so & then return to Petersburg where I shall remain 4 or 5 days & then be off for Warsaw & Berlin. …”

“No 33. St. Petersburg, January 31st ‘67

My dear Mother & Sister,

… As to marrying riches, don’t expect it unless I love the girl. I can marry rich if I like both at home & abroad, but I marry no one for that alone. I will tell you a funny thing which happened to me in Russia. A young woman proposed to marry me. She was 20, pretty, rich, good family, highly educated speaking 5 languages & very sensible in most things. I did not see it in that light however of course don’t mention this to anyone for it seems so astonishing that they would think I lied. In Russia no man marries before the dowry of money, dresses &c is paid into his hands by the parents it is a matter of business. Lots of nice girls here who want husbands. …

I have had a nice time in Rusia I forgot to tell you I was robbed at Moscow which with my purchases will partially account for the money I have drawn. A servant in the house or a thief from outside came into my room when I had accidentally left my purse & took from it not all but about 100$ I am however a fortunate man A friend of mine there was robbed of 800$ in same way. My traveling companion last summer lost his watch & chain & 150$ I leave for Warsaw in 2 days and thence for Berlin Dresden & in 3 weeks shall be in Italy…”

“No. 39 Malaga Spain, Sunday May 26th 1867

My dear Mother & Sister,

… When I left Naples May 11th I had written to Paris to Rothschild to hold my letters for further advice as I did not know just where I could order them with certainty… in course of 4 or 5 days to get them to send letters (one mail) to Madrid where I expect to be in less than 2 weeks on my way north & out of Spain. One of the last things I did at Naples was to make an expedition to Paestum (about 70 miles south of Naples on the coast) to see the ruins of 3 wonderful temples there very few people go now a days on account of scare about brigands – which is all nonsense- 2 years ago an English lord at Naples was spending a great deal of money & making a great show. He arranged to visit Paestum … The brigands then in their heyday had spies & it was decided to capture him & hold him for ransom. The day came he did not go but another young Englishman did & the brigands took him for the mylord It cost him a pile of money to get his release… The journey was one scene of peace and pleasantry and one of the most interesting in all Italy. I have a large gouache or water colour picture (of a kind peculiar to Naples) of the temples & several others views of Naples in my trunk which I sent to Paris from Marseilles. Another interesting trip was to the grotto Azzura or blue grotto on the island of Capri at the mouth of the bay of Naples. … From Naples I took steamer to Leghorn & Genoa the last place I stopped a day … The next morning I went out to draw gold (for in Spain except in one or two places one can draw any to great disadvantage) get hand books &c. About noon word came that all steamers leaving Marseilles for Spain were quarantined & that the steamer of yesterday was in for 3 days at Barcellona. I was a fortunate man & made up my mind I would go by land, mail & diligence so started at 5 next morning & riding all day & all night crossed the Spanish frontier at 3 a.m. when the customs officers hauled us out & examined baggage fortunately I travel here with a leather bag & roll of blanket & coat together, so I have no trouble. I spent 2 days in Barcellona & got off by rail again before the steamer passengers got on shore. This shows the absurdity of quarantine at times. I came from Barcellona where if there was any cholera I did not hear of it yet was equally dangerous with those who went by sea. I got into Spain no questions asked. To this point which you will see is in the south on the Mediterranean I have travelled through the mountains & country by R & diligence. Hard work & mostly by night. I arrived here 2 hours ago (10 oc. A.m.) from Grenada which place I left at 8 o. c. last night & rode all night in diligence 10 horses 3 drivers & postilion. The animals ran all the way & changed every 2 hours or so… There is a family of my acquaintance keeping house here I shall hunt them up after I write this.

The Alhambra the old palace of the Moorish kings in Spain is at Grenada. I spent 2 days there and well spent they were the country is superb. The view from the Alhambra magnificent on the eastern side of a great plain (shut in on every side by mountains) upon a spur or nose of the mountain stands this superb relict of Saracenic architecture overlooking the city of Grenada on the plain beneath the Alhambra is not more than 300 ft or so above the city & plain yet commands an extraordinary landscape, back, east and far above it is the snow clad summit of the Sierra Nevada … Strange that 3 days since just after my first visit to the palace the last home of the Moorish kings previous to expulsion by the Spaniards I took up a copy of the London Times in which I saw that Maximillian had fled or perhaps met his death at the hands of the liberal soldiers in Mexico. The history of Spain is so much that of Mexico that the course of events there are watched with great interest by the Spaniards. Spanish sympathy was with French bayonets, but it will be hard to find another scapegrace to act the part of Maximillian. Mexico is a god forsaken country – you cant make anything of the Italian or Latin race … My destiny after Spain will be Switzerland I shall go direct out of Spain to the alps & then to the Exhibition…”

“No. 40 Cadiz, Spain, June 16, 1867

My dear Mother & Sister,

… I leave this place tomorrow for Lisbon Portugal by steamer & shall go from there to Madrid by rail. I have not had any letters since leaving Naples I have allowed them to remain at Paris … and then go out of Spain over the Pyrenees probably stopping at Biarritz the famous watering place , then to Bordeaux on my way to Geneva Switzerland (Where I suppose I shall find hosts of Americans here I find none) …

I crossed to Africa from Gibraltar & visited Tangiers once more. I seemed to be in the Orient. For the moors of Morocco are as thoroughly eastern as the Arabs of the Syrian deserts. Morocco is a country almost untraveled – therefore has a great charm for me. How pleasant it was once more to call one Mohammed by name and to see a bare legged, bernoussed turbaned, dusky son of Islam enter. I have just come from Seville by far the most charming city I have seen in Spain. I spent 4 or 5 days there It ranks with Madrid in wealth and outranks it in beauty & interest…”

“No. 41 Pau in Basses Pyranees, South France July 7 ‘67

My dear Mother & Sister,

… I did not meet any Americans in Spain in fact few go there – I suppose one great reason is it is a difficult country to travel. This place is a great resort for invalids with lung complaints &c. Last winter hundreds of Americans & English here now not one. It is strange that in all my travels the only parts I have met with Americans or English in any number have been Italy or Paris. I can count on my fingers all I ever met in all other countries… This is a strange place no young lady walks the st with a young man she can go alone with her dog or with other women – but alone without a dog not. In the morning early you hear sweet music upon a shepards pipe looking out you will see a mountain goatherd & his dog driving a dozen or so black goats about from door to door & stopping to milk in every mug or pitcher that is brought forth…”

“No. 42 Paris 20, July 67

My dear Mother & Sister,

… You see I am once more in Paris the starting point & home of all continental travelers. I spent several days in the Pyrenees & wrote you on the 7th inst from Pau. It was very interesting to proceed from there to Bordeaux thence across the country to Geneva but I found that it would be quicker to come this way & it would give a chance to repair & replenish my wardrobe… In about 5 or 6 days I shall start for Cologne & up the Rhine. I am glad to be out of Spain where I have suffered some hard travel. Diligences & RR are tedious, hotels & food bad & I lost my trunks there & for 5 or 6 dys was without a shirt or collar not even a tooth brush…”

“No. 44 Luzerne Switzerland August 29, ‘67

My dear Mother & Sister,

… In those parts I have been I have met few people scarcely any Americans or English owing to the fact that the Engadine & Eastern Switzerland is little travelled. While the cholera  scare has kept away travelers from the Italian lakes. I Have been fumigated with sulphur 4 or 5 times a day in north Italy, baggage likewise… They take you into a close room & burn sulphur keeping you in two minutes. It does no one harm nor do I believe it [wou]ld do any good as a disinfectant …I am told 19 nobles have died of it – the poor people go off like sheep. I am now out of it however so you will not fret about it. I do not have the slightest fear of it, yet I should not care to go to Rome just now had I not been there already. Here I find hosts of people Americans first English 2nd … I expect to get out of Switzerland in about 2 weeks & then for good old England & Scotland…”

“No. 46 Glasgow, Scotland Oct 8 ‘67

My dear Mother & Sister,

… I have now about concluded to return home by way of India, China & Japan to San Francisco etc. Of course this is the long way about yet it is a journey so novel & full of interest & so easily accomplished now that we have splendid steamers from San Francisco to Japan & China that I think I should make it now that I am on this side. It will occupy me 6 months or so from the time I leave Paris which should be about the 1st of December. This brings me in India in the winter the cool & healthy season & continues me around to China & Japan in the most desirable seasons. In doing this trip I shall have been around the world & shall reach New York about July next. There is no danger & traveling is there very delightful I know several persons & have met many from whom I get accounts all agreeing in the interest of the trip besides this the trade of the Pacific is going to increase 10 fold in the next 10 years & I want to know something of its resources etc. The whole trip on the water is by steam. We have American houses & consuls throughout the East at every place of importance. I am now reading up on the matter India you know is English, one is there almost at home as far as the Anglo Saxon race is concerned. The travel there is by boat & Railroad as there are now several thousand miles of rail road finished…”

“No. 53 Bombay Jany 28, 1868

My dear Mother & Sister,

… I arrived at Bombay on the evening of the 11th Jany. After about 21 days steaming from Marseilles. We had a heavy north east monsoon crossing the Indian ocean. It lasted 4 days and amounted to a gale at least the Bombay papers so stated. It was rough & uncomfortable enough. When out 5 days from Aden the coal on ship was discovered on fire (by reason of spontaneous combustion) and the steam pumps were set to work to put it out which they did effectually in an hour or so scarcely any one knew of it as the work was done while the passengers were at dinner. As to climate here it is of mosquito temperature and myriads of those winged devils torment you at night. … Bombay is a great city almost as big as New York if one is to believe the last census which may be correct. It is at all events a great hive. No streets like Broadway or 5th Ave. no city of the tropics can show streets such as N. York or northern European cities exhibit. Here there are no side walks no pavements but the passage between the houses is often about as wide as Nassau St – man & beast donkey & bullock carts all travel as they please endeavoring not to strike hubs. I spent a week here on my arrival picking up information which is absolutely necessary to a traveler in India. I have lots of acquaintances here who help me in any way in their power. One of the first wonders of India I went to see was the Island of Elephanta in bay of Bombay … I returned this morning from a trip to the north as far as Ahmedabad 300 miles. Ahmedabad was once the capital of Western India when Bombay was nil, and long before an Englishman had ever put his red phiz in the country. It was the seat of moslem power & strength in India. It is now a city of 200000 but the ruins of the old city encompass the present one as a mans building plot encompasses his house 3 or 4 miles in every direction outside the walls one sees ruins of one sort or another from 22 miles the circuit has dwindled to 7. … At present it is the driest season and vegetation is assisted by artificial irrigation great artificial tanks or ponds are found near every city, town or village & numerous wells are likewise dug both of these receptacles are almost sacred in India. Masses of money & mental ingenuity have been spent in the erection & ornamentation of them & they present some of the solid & useful works of the present generations. Without them India would be a desert with them she is an empire of wealth extracting almost usorious crops from the soil… Leaving Ahmedabad I went to Baroda the capital of the Gaikwad a native ruler, whose territory although surrounded by British realm yet remains under his rule & he is termed an independent. When he gives an entertainment to the English the assistant English resident orders his (the Gaikwads) butler to provide certain wines & buy them at certain places. This is a sort of independence (of the Eagle & the lamb sort) I doubt if the world can show a second princely court which shall rival that of the Gaikwads in the misery of its attendants, the dirty filthy hangers on & the unpretentious abodes which go by the name of pallaces but which we call at home tenement houses & which in London are not found out of blind alleys … Well this Gaikwad has a large territory from which he extracts a large revenue - $ 7,500,000 at least per annum, which leaves him 5,000,000 net above his expenses of government. He is a Hindoo, yet he is now just famous from the fact that he is manufacturing in his own city palace a panoply or pall to cover the tomb of Mahomet at Mecca. … Having a letter to the Resident at his court he took me to see it (as I happened there on the occasion of the annual review of the native troops) Here is an idea of it … I returned at 6 this morning after an accident on the RR in which the train was thrown from the track by buffaloes and we were detained 5 hours… India is essentially a land of bachelors as far as English or Europeans are concerned It is a wretched land for women In fact no women can travel here & a delicate woman may bring her coffin with her… As to travelling there is no accommodation you find no hotels out of the great cities of Bombay Calcutta & Madras. To see these wonders one has to sleep where he can & eat what he can get. …I go off for an excursion to the S.E. in a day or two & then cross the centre of India & go to Delhi etc…”

“No. 54 Nagpoor Central India Feb 21, 1868

My dear Mother & Sister,

… I wrote you last 28 Jany since which I have made a rip to Mattheran a beautiful hill county some 70 miles from Bombay at Poonah in the Deccan. I am now just off a most fatiguing journey of 8 days in the territory of the Nozam one of the chief native princes in India. I have been to visit the rock cut temples of Ellora & Ajunta, both are numerous & wonderful… These temples at Ellora are Hindoo & of an unknown age but supposed to be from 12 to 1500 years old. They far surpass anything of the kind in Egypt or any other part of Christendom. They are however not easily reached being in the mountains quite away from any civilized habitation. I had to travel 8 days all day & night & live on such food as I carried with me or could procure on the road, no bread, but now & then I obtained a “sudden death” as a chicken is called , owing to the fact that you order a chicken to be cooked, you see it before you running about & in 20 minutes it is served to you after a slight roast over a fire of cow manure. The caves of Ajunta are over 60 miles from those of Ellora & are of Buddhist origin… I was accompanied to these last by one Major Gill an old officer who has been 42 years in India & who was employed by the East India co to paint & copy the caves.  The walls & cielings of these last caves have been painted with various scenes & designs & with far more artistic merit than anything one finds in Egypt… My friend Major Gill is an old hunter having killed at Ajunta during the last 20 years – 114 tigers, 100 panthers & 80 bears not to speak of small game – It is a regular jungle country so I am always armed… I leave in 1 ½ hours for Jebblepore en route to Benares, Agra, Delhi &c. I have 36 hours hard riding in cart & there get rail road….The climate of India is terrible in its effects. The 3d generation of English born on its soil & not brought up in England become weak & idiotic. Women who come out from England loose their complexion & health. In fact I have not seen an English woman in the country who did not excite my pity by her pale face & sickly features. As to traveling in India it is very hard work & no woman can do it if she be the wife of an officer at some inland garrison she may go there under the best auspices, but if she travel off the route prepared for her she finds bad food, no beds & a wearisome journey over rough dusty roads in the most abominable of all conveyances a 2 wheeled bullock cart. The most interesting portion of India is now before me Delhi & the north. Thence I shall return to Calcutta & set out for China &c….”

“No. 55 Delhi India Mch 13 ‘68

My dear Mother & Sister,

… I left Nagpoor in 15 minutes after writing my last to you and rode continuously 42 hours stopping only twice per day to eat something. I was fortunate to fall in with a young man travelling the same route, so we hired a dawk gharree, as 4 wheeled 2 horse wagons are termed and started. These dawks are so arranged that at night one fills up the space between the front & back seats and thus makes a bed. The luggage is chiefly stowed away on top & the driver & servant on the box in front… We had 35 changes of horses between Nagpoor & Jubblepoor & I think we had 32 baulking horses so you may imagine something of the kicking thrashing … and cursing which was necessary to make our equines go. The road was splendid. One of the great national roads first made by the mogul emperors & after British possession improved as military roads. One finds upon most frequented roads in India and every few miles distant from each other what are termed Dak Bungalos. These are small square one story buildings in 3 or 4 rooms where the traveler can rest, spend the night and sometimes get something to eat… The water of the country is generally poor. I have sometimes been forced to drink from puddles where Buffaloes were wallowing & natives washing the clothes or less clean persons. The water blood ward from the fierce heat. I spent a couple of days at Jubblepoor where there is little to see and less to do than in most any other place I have stopped. The only place of interest was the Thuggee jail where about 200 Thugs are confined and who are employed in making tents, carpets etc. About the beginning of this century & long before there existed a certain sect of villains in India whose whole lives were spent in murder & robbery. These were Thugs. They were both musslemen & Hindoos yet adopted the creed that it was holy to commit murder in order to commit robbery. Under British rule this sect has almost entirely disappeared & those that are in jail are generally past middle life. Their system of robbery was for a party of them from 10 to 100 to go into a certain region of country fall in with travelers travel with them & when place & opportunity offered to strangle them with a cord about their necks. It was not an uncommon thing for a Thug to kill his 10 men per year & to continue 25 years & I have no doubt but that many of these 200 Thugs in the Jubblepoor jail have killed their 250 men each. Many were hung and others sentenced to life imprisonment. When I saw them they were in the work shops at work & surrounded by their wives and children who are not criminals but who come each day to work beside their life imprisoned husbands & fathers. … My next point was Allahabad in the valley or plain of the Ganges & at its junction with the river Jumna. Here I obtained my first view of that sacred river (the Ganges) … Well the less said about Allahabad the better so I pass on to Cawnpoor on the Ganges. This place was the scene of the slaughter of a great number of English women, children & men during the Sepoy mutiny of 1857 & 8… Crossing the Ganges on a bridge of boats I took the rail for Lucknow some 40 miles distant on the bank of the Goomtee a tributary of the Ganges. … From Lucknow I next proceeded northward to Agra on the right bank of the Jumna. Agra was built by Akber one of the mogul emperors who held the destiny of India about 300 years ago. It is now the capital of the northwest provinces of the Bengal Presidency and contains some of the most magnificent architecture of the world. The Tag Mehal… the tomb of the Emperor Shah Jehan and his favorite wife Noor Jehan… is a building in most every respect unequalled in the world… The Tag however is not by any means the only thing to be seen at Agra & neighborhood. Here is the great fort built by Akber father to Shah Jehan (or Jehanger) … its walls are some 60 ft high & 1 ½ miles in circuit… within is the former palace of Akber with its numerous attendant buildings including a superb mosque of white marble known as the Motee Musjid or Pearl Mosque,..

After Agra I came to Delhi where I now write this at the United Service Hotel close to the Cashmere gate. … I am going to the mountains for a few days. The Himalayas you know are the highest mountains in the world… There are many missionaries in India from different countries and they represent no less than 25 distinct Christian societies, having a corps of 900 Protestant missionaries of whom 300 are ordained natives. There are in addition 2500 unordained catechists with 2000 schools and 90000 children in attendance. The schools are successful & in all of them the bible is taught the natives send their children in order that they may learn among other accomplishments the English language.

I sincerely believe that these missionaries are doing a good work and that slowly but surely they are undermining the great fabric of the Hindoo faith and preparing these people for a great advancement and their acceptance of the Christian faith. No one can envy the missionaries their life. It is one of banishment without profit purely one of self sacrifice…”

“No. 56 Lahore capital of the Punjab Northern India Apl. 5th, ‘68

My dear Mother & Sister,

… The people of the Punjb or country of the five rivers are known as Sikhs (although there is a large percentage of Mahomedan population) The Sikhs are neither Hindoos or Mahomedans in faith but have a faith which is a composite of both & considered purer than the Hindoo. They like the Mahommedans & unlike the Hindoos have no caste… I expect to start for Cashmere in 3 days. It is about two weeks travel over the Himalayas adjoining Thibet. I shall return in about 5 weeks to Calcutta & then away further East. … From Delhi I took a dawk … and travelled to Umballa 120 miles thence – 40 miles east to foot of the mountains where I took to my legs and in two days walked to Simla 42 miles distant & 8000 ft up. My native servant who styles himself John Peter is a stout man of 37 I should think & comes from southern India … A companion a young American from Boston started to walk it with me but broke down on the 7th mile of the first day & had to get a horse, yet I beat him over an hour & had dinner ready when he came in…”

“No. 57 Sreenuggur Cashmere May 4th, 1868

My dear Mother & Sister,

… I should have written before this but I have since been busily occupied in preparing for or executing camp life. You must know that Cashmere is in the heart of the great Himalaya Mountains … & that to reach it one has to leave civilization and good roads & other comforts & live in tents &c. Having made up my mind to visit the vale of Cashmere. I set to work to get the requisite permission for only a given number are allowed to enter the province of his Highness the Maherajah or native prince each year. Obtaining this permit I went to Rawal Pinder a station in the extreme north of India near the Indus & there purchased tents, stores, horse, etc. and engaging in addition to my old Bombay servant a cook or Kitnigor a Bhasty or water carrier, a sais or house servant and some 15 cooleys or porters to carry tents, baggage &c. I in company with another gentlemen set out for Cashmere. Some 14 days march over the mountains brought us to the entrance to the vale of Cashmere. We encountered two terrible storms on our way bridges washed away & mountain paths difficult to travel for they are always very rugged & fit more for goats than men. We were cold but not so cold as some of our servants who come from the burning plains of India & who had never seen snow or felt the bite of cold before. … I could not ride my horse more than 4 days out of 14. In fact it was about as much as I could do to get him over the rocks … On the 14th day the deep pass before us great vistas & the mountains opened at 4 oc we reached the summit of a mountain & looking beyond the “Happy Valley” the far famed vale of Kashmir opened up before us. The surprise is vivid thus in a moment to unroll a vast valley, a valley 5000 feet above the sea surrounded on every side by a great wall of mountains rising from 5000 to 13,000 ft above it… Arrived at the river we engaged two boats called Doongahs one for our luggage & servants one for ourselves … three days through the valley brought us to Sreenuggur the capital of Kashmir. … In fact labor is awfully cheap in this country & so is food such as is produced here. I paid each cooley or porter 4 annas (12 cents) per march usually averaging 12 miles or a days work. For this he carried from 50 to 60 lbs on his back the whole distance… I pay my cook who is a very fair Hindostane one 12 rupees or 6$ pr month. My sais or house keeper $ 5 pr month my Bhasty or water carrier 350 pr month… One is obliged to have more servants than really necessary owing to the system of caste which prevails among these Hindoos… As regards supplies of provisions the prices in Cashmere are regulated by edict of the Maharajah …. I found that we spent in 12 days for two of us including servants about $ 10 for such stores. … The Maharajah … owns the whole county & for the accommodation of European visitors who are allowed to visit the country only from 14th of May to 14th Nov each year he has had built a few little houses and the first traveler who arrives & can find a vacant one is privileged to live in it as long as he pleases to stay in it (of course if he excursions off he loses it) These houses are desireable chiefly on account of the roof which will shed rain better than canvas, otherwise they would blush beside any respectable pig pen in America… We are very comfortable however for the climate is now delicious. During the afternoon of the day of our arrival the Baboo or agent of the Maharajah called & was apparently delighted to see a citizen of our far off America. He asked after the war… most of these people have no idea of the existence of a great Anglo Saxon nation in the new world. In accord with the custom he sent us on behalf of his highness a russud or gift of 2 sheep, 2 chickens, a lot of rice, sugar, flour, milk, eggs, butter, ghee, tea, salt & spices. This looks hospitable indeed, but another view might be taken of it if you did but know the oppression to which this prince subjects his subjects. He claims to own the entire soil of the country & he receives ¾ of the produce of the land besides taxing every workman & every tradesman. Even the poor cooley who bears the ponderous load upon his shoulders … has to pay ¼ of his earnings into the hands of the Maharajah. Think of this ye grumbling citizens of America who growl at 3 per cent as if it was highway robbery…

Sreenuggar the capital It is built near the middle of the valley as regards length … It has a population of about 150,000 almost one quarter of the entire people of the land… we have here the most abject structures of sunburnt brick & wood propped up on mud banks poles or wretched wall… without regularity or plan. There are also many fine canals here but all are bordered by wretched buildings. As to the streets they are very narrow, very crooked & very rough & dirty totally unfit for a lady to visit. In fact a more wretched filthy place than the capital of Cashmere cannot be found …”

“No. 58. Islamabad Vale of Cashmere May 29/68

My dear Mother & Sister,

… I have seen much of this beautiful land. I have spent much of the time in the capital and have been traveling & tenting in some of the most beautiful parts. I spent a week in Scind valley a tributary coming in on the east and adjoining little Thibet. It is the chief route through the Himalaya mountains to Barkand & Turkestan in central Asia. Some 70 English persons chiefly officers in the Indian Army have arrived since I came (I was the 5th person) only 200 Europeans can enter Cashmere each year & this between Apl 14th & Oct 14th at the latter date all have to leave the country. This is part of the treaty of the British Indian Governemnt with the Maharajah or ruler of Cashmere. … Well I arrived here this eveng. having been 3 days on a boat touring up the serpentine river save when I took to my horse to make excursions to ruins &c at a distance going on afterwards to meet the slow moving boat. … Tiger very numerous in the valley. Only a few nights ago I was encamped … & one of these tygers came roaring near to my camp my servants advised me to have 4 men to watch my horse lest the tiger should kill him. My present cook was attacked by one on the very spot 3 years ago. But this last was a wounded animal & thinking him dead he approached him when he sprang & tore his flesh off his thigh.. To night I am encamped within the wall of the Anut Nag (or spring) It is a garden containing a superb spring of fresh water … Some 6 to 8 miles from here is the celebrated ruins of Martund a ruin of magnificent architecture & of great antiquity probably Buddhist… There are also two curious caves. I visit them & return to camp tomorrow & then start to march out of Cashmere & into upper India Pir Punjal pass 12000 ft high. I expect to reach the plains in 16 days & Delhi in 18 or 20 … There I shall get my letters then on to Calcutta by rail in 2 or 3 days. I shall then soon set out for China. Living in Cashmere is very cheap. I live in tent which costs no rent & my food bill amounts to say 1.00 per day. I have some ½ dozen servants whose aggregate monthly pay may be 30 dollars per month ½ of which is born by my companion. …”

“No. 59. Calcutta June 25, 68

My dear Mother & Sister,

… I was on my way out of the valley after 14 days hard marching through the mountains (cursing the Pir Pansal pass 11400 ft high) I reached the plains & thence set out by Horse dak or wagon for Delhi some 400 miles distant. The Pir Pansal pass I found covered with snow from 2 to 20 ft deep & the air cold at night but on precipitating into the deep valleys the heat of the day became intense – on reaching the plains of the Punjab the thermometer at midnight stood at about 100.

… It is 94 now where I write yet here they have appliances for comfort Punkas or great swinging fans suspended from ceiling are always kept going. This with ice which is to be had here (from America) … manage to make existence not more difficult than with us.

I am living with a very good friend at his bungalow at Serampore about 13 miles by rail from Calcutta … it is far more agreeable for me than a hotel… My next destination is eastward toward China & I shall start by the first good steamer…”

“No. 61 Hong Kong Aug 12,’68

My dear Mother & Sister,

My last was from Calcutta July 17th on the eve of my departure for this place. A voyage of 14 days brought me hither. The steamer stopped a few hours at Penang and again at Singapore at both of which places I went on shore … They are both English settlements each having a few square miles under the jurisdiction of that Government… I came in an opium steamer so called because it is one of the few steamers used to carry opium from India to China. Our cargo consisted of 2200 chests of opium & 2000 bales of cotton worth $ 1,500,000 – one of the most valuable cargoes that can be placed on board of a vessel. The vessel belongs to a private firm Mess Jardine Mattherson Co. who make it a rule to have fast steamers and obtaining their European mail at Singapore, they set out in advance of the mail steamer and reach Hong Kong often 1 ½ days before the mails they give their owners the latest & first news & time to operate before the mail comes. On our trip we brought a mail from Singapore & not wishing the Hong Kong merchants to have their mails as soon as their own house the steamer sneaked in at midnight to a bay on the coast some 5 miles off from Hong Kong & sent a small boat off with orders for us to remain concealed until 12 oc next day when we steamed into H. Kong just as if we had come from the offing. So you see that some of our English cousins have sharp practices and need throw no stones towards their descendants in the land of the setting sun. Pirates are numerous in the China seas although they rarely attack steamers. Yet when we came to anchor that night within 5 miles of Hong Kong all the muskets & revolvers were loaded & placed ready for instant use. One of the features of all Chinese junks is that they all carry heavy guns or cannon most of them as many as 12, simply as protection against the pirates.

… Canton is very interesting everything very novel quite unlike any other part of the East. It is for instance rather unusual to see in other parts dog meat & rats hung up nicely dressed for sale. The variety of vegetables one finds in Canton is marvelous & many I never saw before. … In China it is only very poor people who eat dog or rats & they are ashamed of it. …

Hong Kong is an island on the coast close to the mouth of the river which runs up to Canton. It is some 25 years old & British territory a free port & contains 150,000. It is a hot place well built up & is one of the greatest shipping ports in the world. In the number of steamers which enter the Harbour it is 2d to New York & yet there are not more than 2000 Europeans here. …”

“No 62 Shanghai, Aug. 28 68

My dear Mother & Sister,

… I now start in 2 hours for Peking 4 days north by steamer or 2 days by cart. Shall return in 3 weeks & start for Japan. I am enjoying myself here there are more Americans here than at any other place in the entire East & I know the best of them. I am living with Mr. Seward U. S. Consul General a nephew of Wm. H. Seward, U.S. Secretary of State. The American flag is seen from many mastheads & much of the coasting & river  trade is carried on by Americans. The great river Yangtse Kiang enters the sea here. It is open to foreign steamers 600 miles up & is navigable still further. It is about 3000 miles long & the greatest river of Asia. It is nearly 100 miles wide at its mouth. Much of the tea (black) comes from 600 miles up the river. I go to Peking under most favorable auspices…”                                                            

“No. 63 Peking Sep 14th ‘68

My dear Mother & Sister,

… My trip to this place occupied me five days by sea & two by land. The latter a distance of more than 100 miles performed in a two wheeled springless cart drawn by 2 mules tandem over roads hub deep with mud. Peking to day is almost as difficult to reach as Salt Lake City. In China there are no R Roads, no steamboats save on 3 rivers & the coast no telegraphs, no good roads & only good canals. Ten years ago Peking was as much closed against foreigners as is the sepulchre of Abraham at Hebron to day. Both are yet in the hand of the infidels although only the latter is denied entrance to the Christian that is to say the European.

I approached toward Peking by the sea as far as the mouth of the river Peiho. It was at the mouth of this river that the allied English & French navies & armies met with such disaster in 1860 & the following year carried the forts & marched upon Peking about 150 miles distant. The Peiho is a narrow stream (not bigger than Harlem river) very crooked & running through a plain elevated but a few feet above the sea – I went part of the way up in a steamer which ran upon the bank high & dry about half way up to Teinsin the highest point steamers or foreign vessels are allowed, distance 80 miles from Peking. It was 6 p.m. & at 9 I started in mule cart & reached Peking in 2 ½ days… Peking is surrounded by a massive wall of brick. It is 50 ft high & over 50 ft thick at base & 45 at top. I consider it the finest wall of the world – ancient or modern – It enclosed a parallelogram 30 miles about. Not a house lies outside. In fact all Chinese towns of size are surrounded by walls & there is no such thing as isolated farm houses. Within the walls Peking is a low city, none of the buildings if we except the Confucuian & Buddhist temples, the Pagodas & the Imperial residence & buildings are above one story, hence when outside the walls you see no evidence of a city at all save these scattered buildings. The streets are often wide, never flagged or paved or graded but made up of pools of stagnant water, piles of lumber or rubbish dust or mud always.  The shops are wretched buildings of wood & brick , no residence is seen on or from the street the finest of them make no show from the street. They stand in large courts hidden by high blank walls which look so hideous on the streets. Many of these courts are large & fine, have trees are paved & have several good houses within. There are 4 separate cities within the walls of Peking … The forbidden city is a sealed book to all Europeans as well as to all Chinese. China at present is goverened by two women. There is an Emperor but he is only 13 years old & hence the regency… You have heard of the little feet of the Chinese women… Of all customs it is the most silly & foolish I have seen in the Empire …

I happened to arrive in Peking the day after 3 officers of the U. S. Navy so that we all excursioned together 12 miles to the north of Peking at the foot of the mountains lies the summer palace called Yuen Ming Yuen. You read more or less of its splendors & its destruction by the English & French in 1861. How they entered its grounds & buildings & sacked it carrying off cartloads of gold, precious stones, works of art &c &c & Left it a shapeless mass of rubbish. We all went to see the place. The park covers 12 square miles & is surrounded by high walls. We were refused admittance at the gate, but went off & scaled the walls (one of the officers was Cushing who in our recent war blew up the rebel iron clad Albemarle &c &c) & spent several hours wandering over the grounds. Finding us within the Chinese made the best of it & let us out by the gate… Two days north of Peking in the mountains is the great wall of China one of the wonders of the world … I went to it & breakfasted on it on the morning of the 9th of September… On our way back we made a detour to visit the tomb of the Emperor of the Ming dynasty which ended 240 years since. … I am living in the American ministers house that is to say the one which was occupied by M. Burlingame & which I suppose will be the home of the new man J Ross Brown when he arrives next month. I get my meals at Dr. Williams 5 minutes walk off. I am alone in the house save my servant who is a very good Chinaman… Dr. Williams is Secty of Legation & has been 35 years in China & in Peking since it was opened to foreigners. …

Oct 2d Shanghai

Arrived here yesterday was detained at Teinsin up the Peiho one week came down in the U.S. Man of War Maumee with Capt. Cushing as far as Chefoo … I would have gone on to Japan with him but was obliged to go back to Shanghai where I left baggage etc. … I am now waiting for a steamer to take me to Nagasaki Japan & it is doubtful if I can get one before the 15th….”

[Japan, first pages of letter missing, circa Nov. 1868]      

“… Damos or princes followed by their long retinue of armed retainers who scowl at the foreigner with all the hate which they have shown so fully possessed. The cooley class or porters are a stout short clumsy set of men who go almost naked through the streets. The Bettos or runners are a wonderful set of men who follow you on foot as you go on horse. They go almost nude & have their bodies remarkably tattooed. The horses wear shoes made of straw & come along the narrow streets so noiselessly that you must be on the alert for the cry of the betto,

I found the people in the streets and shops very good natured in fact more polite than you find them in New York or London. The dangerous classes in Japan are the Yaconins & Ronins The acknowledged two sworded retainers of the Damos or those who not wishing to make their prince responsible for their acts leave his employ and turning ronin assassinate foreigners. As one walks through the streets of a Japanese city he is struck with the cleanly appearance as well as with the order & quiet which rules them. The little children unlike any other children of any other eastern country are playful joyful companionable, playing games, laughing walking arm in arm, they are equal in every pleasant thing to those of any other land. … The social life of Japan is anomalous & strange and if it embodies many customs which shock the conscience or usages of western people it also possesses much that is beautiful and desireable. More filial & parental affection more toleration of religious or political spirit, more courtesy … exists among no people on earth. …

From Nagasaki I went to Hiago or Niphon. This place lies at the head of the inland sea the passage through which is one of the most magnificent trips that can be taken on salt water. It is a huge salt lake surrounded by a mountainous country with Damios castles & forts scattered along its shores. …

… from Yokohama to Yeddo is 25 miles and it took me just 3 ½ hours to get over it on horseback. Yeddo is not yet opened to foreigners. I am today the only white man in the place excepting an Englishman who is employed by the Japanese. The moment I mount a horse & start off I am followed by 3 mounted & armed Yaconins who keep close to my heels wherever I go. They are ordered by the Government to go with you to protect you. I find that with them it is impossible to buy anything without paying double what the same thing would cost in the open parts. These Yaconins compel the shopmen to charge & if they sell they claim a large percentage.

As to prices in Japan all good things are very dear because the damios & upper classes buy them. The mass of things which are sent away from the country are poor & nasty.

None of the foreign legations reside in Yeddo now they all moved away to Yokohama when the troubles broke out last winter. It is a great city perhaps 1,500,000 people, covering a vast area… While I went about the city of Yeddo I was sometimes surrounded by a thousand people & when I went into a shop the crowd surged around to such an extent as not unfrequently to break many things, when the officers would ride over their toes & drive them back. There is not a great deal to see at Yeddo some temples the Tycoons castle a vast fortress in the very heart of the city, very fine & very curious &c &c. I made a few purchases there but more in Yokohama… The country is very beautiful & the climate is now very bracing, we had a little ice yesterday.

Yokohama Nov 27th

I am safe back from Yeddo & go on board steamer to night for San Francisco…”


Str. Great Republic At Sea Dec. 9, 1868

“… I am on board one of the finest ships in the world, 5000 tons … in fact only 2d to Great Eastern. Accomodations excellent, 12 first class passengers, sea captains, merchants &c & 300 Chinese passengers going to San Francisco,120 of them women. This is the first large import of China women into America They are a young but miserable set..."