HANDWRITTEN LETTER WRITTEN ABOARD THE STEAMSHIP "BOLIVIA" BY A QUAKER WOMAN RETURNING HOME FROM TRAVELS IN EUROPE , ADDRESSED TO HANNAH PANCOAST AT MOUNT HOLLY, NEW JERSEY, 1877
1877. Original manuscript. Very Good. 4pp, octavo, written in sepia ink on a single, folded leaf; top few lines of first page are cross-hatched as the writer finishes up her message. In the original mailing envelope (torn open) addressed to Hannah Pancoast, Mount Holly, Burlington Co., New Jersey, with a three-cent stamp postmarked at Philadelphia. Addressed to "My dearest H.", the writer says she received her letter when she was about to leave Paris, but is writing her a less "hurried" reply now that she's aboard ship, although "it seems impossible to give thee an idea of the joy of the whole summer." The rest of the letter is rhapsodic in its report of the beauties of Italy and Switzerland. The writer, who notes that only 8 of "our party…went through Italy entirely," mentions seeing Naples, Pompeii, taking "lovely rides on the Bay of Naples", and "days at Rome sightseeing." She then spent "day after day at Venice…riding in those gondolas, a lazy dreaming life…", and including a trip from there to "the island where Byron spent so much of his time", San Lazarro degli Armeni. "The glory of the beauty of some of the past scenes can never fade from memory," and she singles out the ride from Pisa to Genoa, with its tunnels, and sights of "fishermen and …children…[and] little parties in bathing…." as especially charming. She was equally taken with the beauties of "Switzerland with its lakes", where she accomplished "the ascent of the Rigi" mountain near Lake Lucerne and also crossed the unforgettable mountain passes. She concludes "But I must tell thee all about this" in person, and goes on to describe shipboard life. "There are ten Rev. gentlemen on board and they have family worship twice a day." There is also "a great deal of musical talent on board…quite a concert…[and] last night a comical school. Miss Florence would have nejoyed the fun…fancy readings and recitations, then one is asked to promenade and play games." she also plays two-hour chess games with a "prof. from Georgia" and then with "another gentleman". She opines "this is a lazy life" and says she'll be happy to see her "dear ones" next week, lists them all, and ends with "Han, I long to see thee and tell thee of the romances of this whole summer outing…" Unsigned. [We find online that Hannah H. Pancoast was born 28 May 1862, the daughter of Joseph Pancoast and Susan Thompson of Salem County, New Jersey. the "Steamship Bolivia" was an Anchor Line ship, built by Glasgow's Robert Duncan Co. and launched in 1873.]. (Inventory #: 038357)
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