[Boston—Saturday, 15 August 1863]

August 15. Yesterday James F. Clarke dined with us. We had much fun at table over an article recently published in the North American Review and written by the Rev. Alger entitled “Titan” a critique or laudation of Richter. The author uses the epithets “sky-kicking-mirth” “resilient whimsicality” and the like which really are subjects for laughter if any exist. After dinner we talked of “beautiful things”. Mr Bartol proclaimed the faith that beauty grew out of suffering or at least large experience of life only; on the other hand we maintained that the beauty of mere youth in men and women, like the beauty of flowers, was a positive glorious power. Just as we were revolving these things an exquisite hound bounded into the little parlor, white as snow and graceful as is the wont of hounds. We knew no other words were needed for our argument. It was well; because no time was left us. The master and mistress of the dog soon stepped in and they proved to be our friend Miss Prescott with her lover Richard Spofford. The day was one of the loveliest even August can show. Yet what month can be more exquisite than she. Rich with the meridian splendors of the year yet extending large promise of the harvest on every side and holding on its breast the red leaves and gorgeous flowers which already begin slowly to assemble and bid farewell to the galaxy of months. Our guests had been driving since the early morning. They were penetrated with beauty and love. We chatted together for a short time, Miss Prescott giving me spirited sketches of people she had seen—of the maid at the hotel who hated the upper servant because she had “such bouneable airs”—of Johnnie Campbell the Scotch Ale-Vender in Newburyport who showed her the bed “where himself and his Jeannie had slept every night together for three years,” a rough man enough but full of the tenderest sentiments—of Col. Higginson who formerly occupied our rooms here and who took her one dark night to the rocks where she sat alone with him ’till near midnight while the waves rushed and swirled and she, near-sighted and a stranger, was completely helpless save for God and himself there, he told her of the fishers who go out alone in tiny boats like a flock of birds every night to come back when the dawn reddens the sky: “they carry each a small lantern, he told me, to simulate the fireside.” We talked a long time yet it seemed a very short one and then on the rocks she continued with Mr F. while Mr Spofford and I talked of the country. The first conversation I had ever undertaken with a Copperhead. I trembled to begin it but am sure no harm was done but I pray good may come out of it to the Country’s Cause. I fear little was gained but an increase of Charity. I don't think it possible to move these compromised characters. Mrs Frémont is at Nahant. Mr F. had a most agreeable day there last week. Longfellow read to him the last and remaining portion of his new volume of poems in which a party of friends each tell a story. Ole Bull, Dr Parsons, Monti and several other characters are introduced. Some of the poems are lovely. After dinner they went to call upon Mrs Frémont and found her as Mr L. says “tremendously up and dressed.” She intends to purchase the place she has rented. Rebecca and her husband were spoken of with affection.

National Endowment for the Humanities - Logo

Editorial work on The Brownings’ Correspondence is supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

This website was last updated on 7-18-2024.

Copyright © 2024 Wedgestone Press. All rights reserved.

Back To Top