Alice Hamilton to Louise de Koven Bowen, May 16, 1915


Amsterdam May 16th

Dear Mrs. Bowen:

I am sitting in the headquarters of the Woman's Peace Party waiting while Miss Addams goes over minutes and reports with a very meticulous English lady. Downstairs a taxi is ticking away and the thought of it gives me indigestion but Miss Addams keeps saying she is coming. I am wondering if at this rate my money -- Mary's -- will hold out, or whether I shall have to fall back on hers. She seems to have plenty.

I was very startled to hear of your operation and of course the letters telling that you were planning it came long after the cable telling you had had it. I know it was dreadfully hard stopping everything and slipping back into invalidism, but I know that in the end you are glad to have it really settled and I am thankful you sent for Dr. Abbe. We seem so far away here that a cable or two saying you are doing all right is a great comfort.

So far things have gone very well and I only hope they will keep on so. Miss Addams got to England when she planned and got out when she planned. I went into Belgium and though they kept me on tenterhooks for days, they let me out in time to meet her. We are to go to Germany now, for people seem to think that if we go fast and come out fast we can manage it before our dear country decides to break off international <diplomatic> relations with Germany. The party will consist of Dr. Jacobs, an elderly woman, very decided, fairly irritable and quite able to see that her own comfort is attended to; her friend Frau [Potter], the wife of a man who has a plantation in Java and is very rich but exceedingly careful about [page 2] pennies, also elderly; and J. A. and myself. It will not be bad, for a party of two couples makes up easily into twos.

Miss Addams must have had a wonderful time in England, but you will have heard of it from Miss Breckinridge by now. People here really do take her mission seriously. When it was proposed in the Congress by Madame Schwimmer we all thought it hopelessly melodramatic and absurd and we said Miss Addams would never consent to go about from court to court presenting resolutions. Then as she talked to the foreigners she saw that in their eyes it was both dignified and important and she consented to take the warring countries. For me, of course, it is only interesting, for I have no responsibility, I only trail along as a lady's maid.

Belgium was a wonderful experience. I never knew before what the life of a revolutionist in Russia must be like. It is a choking and an embittering atmosphere. One finds oneself spied upon, one is afraid to be frank ever, one is afraid and at the same time one comes to hate those gray coated men of whom one is so mysteriously afraid. And the Belgians one meets in the relief work are so fine, intelligent, capable, high-bred people, living as simply as possible and giving all their time and strength and money in the care of their poor. And they are so sweetly courteous about it too. I think one can be more polite in French than in English anyway.

Miss Addams is starting and I must go.

With much love to Mary, and to yourself,

Affectionately ever