[London—Friday, 8 July 1859]
Friday. Prepared letters for the steamer and answered notes of invitation during the morning. George Russell came in much disappointed to say that Thackeray was ill and Jones obliged to go away with his mother so we should make a very quiet party of 4 at Richmond. I was truly sorry for the cause but glad I should have an opportunity to see so much of Miss Russell. We had just a carriage full going down in the train. Two ladies, relatives of the Russells, went with us and asked us to dine with them when we go to stay with the Russells. It was so kindly and unostentatiously given, this invitation, and with such hearty readiness, we felt at once disposed to respond. Richmond is inexpressibly lovely the house is so neat and comfortable and the grounds so pretty overlooking a wooded slope to the river where white swans are disporting themselves. We sat together on the lawn enjoying the view and a social talk while dinner was preparing and afterward dined in a room overlooking the sweet view. Soon the moon came out and we would not have candles that we might watch the mist creep up tinged with color by the moonbeams. Miss Russell is one of those loving and lovely characters once seen and known never to be forgotten. We became, I hope, friends in truth I hope and believe too, because there is a simplicity about her manner and true refinement combined with christian beauty which we are better for having seen and known. Russell said he thought there was no religion in Dickens. I can’t agree with him. Is it not religion to discover that, within and around the meanest of God’s children which can elevate them and give them a purpose and aim in life? He said there was no reference to a higher power. But do not the lessons of charity and cheerfulness which he teaches spring from a sure faith in God and a future life and desire to inculcate the knowledge of how to begin our immortal career? George is a dear good fellow we both wish to see more of them. He told us about Mrs Hennen that poor oppressed woman in New Orleans. How much his sympathy has done for her and her daughters.