[London—Sunday, 6 May 1860]

Sunday 6th Went to a Scotch church in the neighbourhood and heard excellent preaching on “What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” T’was a queer old-fashioned church and queerer and more old-fashioned customs. The preacher dropped out his words as if they were screwed out by a chain and windlass but we quite forgot to notice this he talked to us so clearly and so forcibly inspired as he was by the Spirit of Truth.

We dined with Dickens. Only the family were at dinner with the exception if it could be called so of Wilkie Collins and his brother who is engaged to Miss Kate and the family of Robert Chambers the publisher. I sat next Dickens and tried to be as little awe-struck as possible at my position that I might enjoy it to the full. Dear Jamie of course sat next Miss Mary who takes the head of the table. She is, we think the most interesting of the daughters as well as the best looking, although Millais has chosen to put Miss Kate into his new picture of the Black Brunswickers which is in the academy. Dickens talked very much and very pleasantly at dinner. He said it was painful to see the Catholic influence creeping into America and he often wondered if every nation must win a new birth as it were into tranquillity and prosperity through the fearful blood-shed England had known? Was America to suffer the purification through pain?

A shadow has fallen on that house, making Dickens seem rather the man of labor and of sorrowful thought than the soul of gaiety we find in all he writes. We are to visit him at Gad’s Hill by and bye. In the evening we went to Mrs Russell Sturgis’ where we met the Bigelows and Lothrop Motley and his wife. Mrs Sturgis we thought amiable and graceful with a fine high-bred air according well with her fine house.

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