[Paris—Monday, 21 November 1859]
Monday 21st The weather is still soft and warm like our October days when we walk among the rustling fallen leaves.
Mr Hungtingdon passed the evening. I was never so much struck with his great conversational powers and his broad field of knowledge as tonight. He has faith in Louis Napoleon—both as a man of ability and a man of conscientious statesmanship. He believes in his desire and intention to free Italy from the Austrian yoke but in attempting this he has drawn upon his shoulders that most powerful element, the Revolutionary principle now so rife in this unhappy country. Against this enemy all his skilful diplomacy has been exerted since the battle of Solferino and now more than ever before the end seems in sight. Garibaldi has been induced to withdraw from the field and the regency of Sardinia will probably extend its pacific sway over the land to bring peace into it at least until the French troops are withdrawn from the Papal States.
After a long talk about politics in which he took always the cheerful humanitarian view he branched off to speak of Art and Artists in Paris. The pictures of Diaz now so much esteemed are really not painted with as great care of late years as formerly before his reputation was so great and he has been known to have said that he would not live over again the sufferings of his youth for all his present renown. Many charming pictures by young artists are daily sold in the auction rooms of Paris at fabulously low prices and for $100 he was enabled to send his brother nearly 100 capital little bits, most of them frames and all.
From Art to Literature is but a step and Mr Huntingdon knew we were interested to hear about George Augustus Sala whom he had known well here in P[aris]. Sala always dropped down among them as it were from the clouds without a ray of extra clothing and a tiny roll of manuscript in his hat. He described him with such a tragic truth that your heart bled for this most pitiable of Bohemians.
The unresistless memory supplies the chief portion of the delightful conversation. Let her be true to her calling. I will not attempt to transcribe it here. Nevertheless it was pleasant to record what he said about the bold truthfulness of the English who chastise their own errors fiercely in their daily journals so that he who runs may read. At the same time many of their good deeds are unrecorded. In the Crimean War for instance they supplied the French at one time with food, quite as a matter of course and without a shadow of self applause.