[Paris—Saturday, 3 December 1859]
Saturday Dec. 3. Visited Babcock’s studio with Mr Huntingdon who met us in the street just out for a walk. We found the artist full of life and vigorous healthy love for his Art, just returned from the forest of Fontainebleau where he has been busily sketching from Nature. He had but few things by him. There was one exquisite sketch in color, such color as he alone seems to know how to use which we fell in love with and Jamie told Mr Huntingdon to ask him if we might have it. It is a company of 4 singers glimmering on the canvas like an array of gems. I hope it is ours.
We dined hastily remembering the pleasure we had before us of an early visit to Lamartine. It was hardly half past 7 when the dear old Major arrived to conduct us thither. The family of Lamartine were quite alone and assembled around a glowing fire as we were announced. They were 5 I shall say because it would never do to omit the memory of 2 days of wonderful beauty and intelligence but in truth we were greeted only by the spiritually-minded man, his gifted wife and their niece an amiable young lady full of French wit and graces. It was truly a marked era for us. The circle did not become too large for pleasant general conversation which was carried on mostly in French in spite of our slight proficiency therein. The simplicity of Lamartine’s surroundings are so striking and so in accordance with the gentle magnetism of his nature which is all sufficing that we were surprised & felt at once quite at ease in this delightful Salon. Although 70 winters have snowed upon him the sonorous beauty of his voice is as great as ever but of far larger signification to me of the health of his powers was the knowledge that monthly a periodical is published written by himself alone, full of interest and nervous vigor. It was pleasant to see the profound attention which was rendered to him by all those who were present; old and young preferring to hang upon his words and catch the slight inflections of his tones to everything else however absorbing.
Shall we not see the charming poet again we thought as we drove away that night.