[Boston—Thursday, 28 July 1864]

July 28. Still hot with a russet sun. Mr and Mrs Henry James called in the evening. He talked of Sterling, “he was not stereotyped but living, his eye burned; he was very vivacious, although he saw Death approaching. He was one of the choicest of friends.” Afterward he talked of Alcott’s visit to Carlyle. Carlyle told Mr James he found him a terrible old bore. It was almost impossible to be rid of him and impossible also to keep him for he would not eat what was set before him. Carlyle had potatoes for breakfast and sent for strawberries for Mr Alcott, who when they arrived took them with the potatoes upon the same plate where the two juices ran together and fraternized. This shocked Carlyle who would eat nothing himself but stormed up and down the room instead. “Mrs Carlyle is a naughty woman” said Mr J. “She wishes to make a sensation and does not mind sometimes following and imitating her husband’s way.” Mr J. said Alcott once made him a visit in N.Y. and when he found he could not go to Brooklyn to attend Mr A.’s conversation the latter said “very well he would talk over the heads with him then before it was time to go.” They got into a great battle about the premises during which Mr Alcott talked of the Divine paternity as relating to himself when Mr James broke in with, “My dear Sir you have not found your maternity yet you are an egg half hatched, the shells are yet sticking about your head.” At this Mr A. replied “Mr James you are damaged goods and will come up damaged goods in Eternity.”

We laughed much before they left at a story about a man who called to ask money of John Jacob Astor. The gentleman was ushered into a twilight library where he fancied himself alone until he heard a grunt from a deep chair the high back of which was turned towards him; then the gentleman advanced found Mr Astor there and saluted him. He opened the business of the subscription to him but was about to unfold the paper when Mr Astor suddenly cried out—oo-oo oo—oooooo—what is the matter my dear sir, said he, are you ill (growing alarmed) where is the bell, let me ring the bell—then moving to the door he shouted Madame, Madame, then to Mr Astor pray sir what is the matter? “oo-oo-oo—have you a pain in your side!!” In a moment the household came running thither and as the housekeeper bent over him he cried “oo-oo those horrid wretches sending to me for money!!” As may be believed our friend of the subscription paper beat a hasty retreat and here ended also our evening.

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 5-18-2024.

Copyright © 2024 Wedgestone Press. All rights reserved.

Back To Top