[Geneva—Saturday, 24 September 1859]
Saturday 24. Such a superb day. Summer and Autumn at the same time. Jamie came in from his morning walk laden with fruit and flowers. Took a carriage early for Coppet. As we drove through Pregny Mt. Blanc in all its glory stood by our side and reflected itself in the unruffled lake. Not a sound disturbed the breathless beauty of the scene. Grand old country seats lined the roadside interspersed with vineyards. It was not noon when we arrived at Coppet. The trim tidy home-look of the place was so unlike what show places usually are that we advanced doubtfully as well as reverentially to the room of the concierge. A very trim little French woman informed us civilly that the place was not shown but upon the plea that we were Americans and the desire strong to see the home of the great Neckar and her [sic] gifted daughter we were admitted. We have hardly seen a more interesting spot. The grand old building just as it has stood so many years and the pleasant rooms not only haunted by their memories but hung with speaking portraits by David of De Stael, her lovely daughter the Duchess of Broglie, her parents, husbands &c. The library and De Stael’s sleeping apartment leading therefrom were the chief attractions. A fine portrait of Schlegel and a copy of Raphael’s youthful likeness were all the pictures they contained. The writing desk still stood there and the summer sun was streaming through the open windows seeming cheerfully oblivious of the past. The view from here is enchanting but Mt. Blanc can not be seen. How different at Ferney where we drove from Coppet; as if Voltaire had striven to embrace all the mountains in his view as he walked in the Berceau and yet how much I preferred Coppet. Here was happiness and a reverence for the good. I saw upon the walls at Coppet our picture of the Declaration of Independence. It touched me much more than to see the picture of Washington in Voltaire’s chamber; in one case it was a worship for the principle in the other for the man. Milton’s picture hung also near Voltaire’s bed. Such a study was never enjoyed by student or poet as Voltaire’s. It was as if we rocked in leaves to a sleepless repose gazing out upon Paradise. So beautiful, so sad. Returning we prepared ourselves to visit Dr and Mrs Malan at tea. Benjamin Malan sat with us until the hour of departure. Jamie rushed out to see the sun die upon Mt. Blanc and came back breathless and speechless at the glory he had seen.
Mrs Malan is an English woman who has engrafted the sweet manners and conversation of this French-German people upon the inestimable qualities which belong so naturally to the refined English. We were received by Dr M. and his wife most cordially. Their life is busy and self-sacrificing but beautiful through Love. They are much interested in the English church here.