Saturday. March 3d.
Preliminaries of a sore throat,—but tamarinds cured me. Miss Baker came at half past two, & spent an hour with me. She objects to such books as Corinne & Mathilde, because they lead the mind to expect more in life than can be met in life. Well!—allow that they do!— The expectation brings more happiness than any reality,—as realities go,—cd. do. Romance of spirit is a far rarer fault than worldliness of spirit. I wish I knew a few people who had been “spoilt” by reading Corinne. I know nobody. Could not quite finish the Supplices. It is an interesting, & in some parts, an affecting play. Evadne is very striking & affecting.
Miss Baker has a melancholy opinion of the West Indies. It wd. be agreable to know that Papa’s estates are not burnt up—& still more agreable to know where we are going! Fear as well as Hope deferred, maketh the heart sick.
1. [Anne Louise, Comtesse de Stäel-Holstein], Corinne, ou l’Italie, 3 vols. (Paris, 1807). In her letter to H.S.B. of 9 June 1832, E.B.B. said: “I have read Corinne for the third time, and admired it more than ever. It is an immortal book” (BC, 3, 24–27).
2. From the context it seems probable that E.B.B. meant Matilda; A Tale of the Day (London, 1825), by Constantine Henry Phipps, Lord Normanby.
3. Evadne, the wife of Capaneus, one of the Seven Against Thebes, threw herself on his funeral pyre (Euripides, “Supplices,” lines 990–1071, LCL-E, III, 578–587).
4. The Times, 20 February 1832, reported a partial insurrection of the slaves in Jamaica, mainly in the parishes of St. James, Portland and Trelawney (the Barretts had land in St. James and Trelawney, although their principal estate was in the parish of Cambridge): “Shortly after the 20th of December the slaves on several estates refused to go to their work, and large bodies of them met together and set fire to many plantation buildings. On the 30th of December martial law was proclaimed.” As far as can be ascertained from the family papers, the Barrett estates were not injured at this time.
5. Cf. Proverbs xiii.12: “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: But when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.”