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A Cathedral Courtship

A Cathedral Courtship
SHE
Winchester,May28,1891
The Royal Garden Inn.
We are doing the English cathedral towns, aunt Celia and I. Aunt Celia has an intense
desire to improve my mind. Papa told her, when we were leaving Cedarhurst, that he
wouldn't for the world have it too much improved, and aunt Celia remarked that, so far as
she could judge, there was no immediate danger; with which exchange of hostilities they
parted.
We are traveling under the yoke of an iron itinerary, warranted neither to bend nor break.
It was made out by a young High Church curate in New York, and if it had been blessed
by all the bishops and popes it could not be more sacred to aunt Celia. She is awfully
High Church, and I believe she thinks this tour of the cathedrals will give me a taste for
ritual and bring me into the true fold. I have been hearing dear old Dr. Kyle a great deal
lately, and aunt Celia says that he is the most dangerous Unitarian she knows, because he
has leanings towards Christianity.
Long ago, in her youth, she was engaged to a young architect. He, with his triangles and
T-squares and things, succeeded in making an imaginary scale-drawing of her heart (up
to that time a virgin forest, an unmapped territory), which enabled him to enter in and set
up a pedestal there, on which he has remained ever since. He has been only a memory for
many years, to be sure, for he died at the age of twenty-six, before he had had time to
build anything but a livery stable and a country hotel. This is fortunate, on the whole,
because aunt Celia thinks he was destined to establish American architecture on a higher
plane,--rid it of its base, time- serving, imitative instincts, and waft it to a height where, in
the course of centuries, we should have been revered and followed by all the nations of
the earth. I went to see the livery stable, after one of these Miriam-like flights of
prophecy on the might-have-been. It isn't fair to judge a man's promise by one
performance, and that one a livery stable, so I shall say nothing.
This sentiment about architecture and this fondness for the very toppingest High Church
ritual cause aunt Celia to look on the English cathedrals with solemnity and reverential
awe. She has given me a fat notebook, with "Katharine Schuyler" stamped in gold letters
on the Russia leather cover, and a lock and key to protect its feminine confidences. I am
not at all the sort of girl who makes notes, and I have told her so; but she says that I must
at least record my passing impressions, if they are ever so trivial and commonplace.
I wanted to go directly from Southampton to London with the Abbotts, our ship friends,
who left us yesterday. Roderick Abbott and I had had a charming time on board ship
(more charming than aunt Celia knows, because she was very ill, and her natural powers
of chaperoning were severely impaired), and the prospect of seeing London sights
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