Contributed by Kathleen Haynes
Contact Myrtle Bridges June 05, 2008
LONDON Sunday Afternoon, Aug 31, 1912
My dear Mother,
Well I'm quite sure this is the best place of all I've been to, and the most interesting
place in the whole world. The place I'm staying in as you see on Trafalgar Square, very near
to everything. Here is the Nelson monument and Pall Mall and the Strand, that wonderful street
is nearby, and Whitehall with the War & Admiralty offices, the old Banqueting Hall of Whitehall
Palace, now a museum, and thru one of the windows Chas I walked to his scaffold. Farther on is
Westminister Abby where I spent several very pleasant hours amid those old monuments of the great.
So many that you knew so much about, so many that you had never heard of - warriors, statesmen,
jurists, poets including our own Longfellow, and kings. It's useless of course to try and enumerate
even some of them, not that I've forgotten, but I'd never get there.
From here I went over to Westminister Hall and then thru the Houses of Parliament and across
the river - up the other side and back across Town Bridge and a view of the Port of London, all
crowded with loading and unloading ships and steamers for and from all the world - and to the Tower
and all over it where I saw the crown jewels - the armory and the prisons and scratched up walls -
the scaffold site, and then by the bank and back to Piccadilly. The United Service Museum I found
most interesting, especially as to Trafalgar and Waterloo and with relics of Nelson Wellington and
Napoleon and to beautiful St. Pauls filled also with monuments and the British Museum - saw the Magna
Charter, two of the four original copies, many books and sculptures, genealogical collections, and a
very wonderful [place] where I stayed reading for two or three hours about almost everyone of note and
fame including all the sovereigns. The National Gallery with the towers and the National Portrait Gallery -
oh, it's all so very, very interesting here with all the Kings, Queens and Princes of the Blood Royal - none
looking so truly regal as Chas I and Henrietta Maria, Elizabeth & Beau Nash who was disappointing - Old D. T.
Johnson and "O Rave Ben Johnson" as his grave at Westminister says, and all the rest. Most of them with such
fine strong faces, and all of them beautiful portraits.
Then in St. James Port and down the mall to the Victoria memorial, past St. James Place and Marborough
House, the monument very clean and white as they wash it each day, and behind it is Buckingham Palace. I
think the monument is the only clean thing in London. Then I walked by Birdcage walk area and saw the guard
changed at the Horse Guards - fine looking soldiers - leather breeches with scarlet coats and helmets with
white plumes and very splendid they looked on their fine black horses with long patent leather boots. Then
I stayed a long time in the Wallace collection which is a gem, both for the paintings and furniture, and it
has lovely other things, notably miniatures and china and some exquisite little water colors by Leggett.
So you see I've been going hard and I'm not near done yet - but I hope to finish by Tuesday - go to Warwick
and see that and Stratford and Kenileworth Wednesday, and then to up to Scotland.
I'm sailing Sept 12th. That's earlier you know than I had intended, but I'm oh so tired - it's hard
work and I've raced, raced, raced and done a lot and I will have had by then a fleeting glimpse of all I care
most about. Tuesday I expect to go to Windsor and Eton and Stoke Pogis, where Gray wrote his Elegy. I did want
to go to the Wye [River] and walk some there and in Devonshire and then to the lake country, but every England
rural doesn't appeal to me when its raining every day, and for once I can't agree with "It is not raining rain
to me" because over a month of it is enough.
I've seen a lot more people here that I know and night before last had dinner at Princes with Al Loomis and
his bride who are working over here. He was in my class at Cambridge. You never mentioned receiving my degree.
If it's lost they won't give me another. Oh, I'll be glad to get back, get settled and get to work. I was with
a cousin (Univ. Va. boy) of Mrs. H. T. Graham the other day.
Write your answer to this letter to Mr. Donald F. Ray S. S. Baltic - due Sept 20 - New York City c/o
White Star Line.
I wish you'd put in a check for $50 - I don't think I'll have to use it, but I may to get from my home on
and then I'll have some duties to pay I suppose as I shall declare everything, but even then I think I can
get by with what I have, but send it anyway and write me where to come to etc, etc., you'll probably be
ready to go home by then. I'm well. Love to the Tates.
NOTE: The manifest of S. S. BALTIC sailing from Liverpool, England 12 Sept. 1912 and arriving 21 Sep 1912
at Port of New York, NY shows Ray, Donald Fairfax 23 years of age, male, single, Birthdate September 26, 1888.
Address in US listed as Fayetteville, NC. Sadly, Donald would die July 6, 1918 in Fort Sill, OK at the age of 30
of an undisclosed illness. Source: New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 Myrtle Bridges
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