[London—Thursday, 17 May 1860]

Thursday 17th Hawthorne, Fields, Talfourd, Durham and Mr Bennett breakfasted with us. We had a pleasant chatty time. Hawthorne has a great deal of wit of his own kind in his talk. We all enjoyed seeing him once more. During breakfast an album comes in for him to inscribe his name therein, and after vainly looking for something and refusing to copy from his own book I gave him at his request for something Tennyson’s song.

 

“In Love, if Love be Love, if Love be ours,”

Went to a dinner at Mrs Cropsey’s which she very kindly made for us I am sure. Plenty of people came in in the evening and Miss Frith played who gave us such nice music before at Mrs Hall’s. Her repose of manner while executing the most difficult music is really remarkable. As a musician remarked who was present she sang her playing—there was such a human voiced melody and sympathy thrown into the notes. Hepworth Dixon was present. A man little calculated to inspire regard or admiration in any true woman. He seemed very learned, very vain, very over-worked, over-dined, and narrow as the sharpest edge of a good shingle. He evidently entertains a curious idea of Americans particularly the ladies as if they consisted of a film of fine dressing overlaying any amount of barbarisms, indeed among the less observant of the English I find this fancy largely entertained and the disagreeable part of this meeting last night was that Mrs Bigelow sat opposite to him with her elbows on the table attempting to contradict in very bad English his preconceived ideas. Such a woman as that makes us blush for our country but last night we could turn it to nothing but ridicule and we sat literally laughing at her till the tears ran down our cheeks. I know she thought herself very witty but poor B. looked sober enough. She has such good sterling qualities I was truly sorry when she runs on in this strain.

Jamie asked Hepworth Dixon if he liked Canvas-backed ducks. He said he didn’t know them but should like to make their acquaintance. Lor! said Mrs B. I was brought up on Canvas backs, Oysters and Soft-shelled crabs!!! This little interjection as it were, was delivered in such a stentorian voice that we could not resist laughter. There was too much more of such to put down here. I only hope Mr Dixon will be equally scrupulous about making use of it.


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