[Boston—Friday, 13 November 1868]

Friday. Nov. 13th A whole week since I have been able to touch this sheet.

Sunday & Monday. It rained and mother & Sarah remained with us. Lucy & Mrs Spalding passed Monday night here. We went to hear Mr. Emerson. Subject Hospitality and How to make home attractive. He quoted the old lines

 

Stranger, what dost thou require

Rest & a guide & food & fire

 

Saying Peace, a guardian angel, daily bread, & love, were the requirements thus intended and difficult, indeed, this task of true hospitality. He was perhaps less brilliant & witty than usual but there was much wit and true religion.

Mrs Spalding & I talked much the next day about Mary Dodge who is most unhappy at having lost what she esteems, it appears, two of her best friends. But she has not lost them. I still feel for her & with her & long to write and make things easier for her to bear.

Lucy Larcom is quite overcome by her cares for the “Young Folks,” in her dreams Mrs Spalding said Lucy spoke out “Mr. Osgood has it I think or if not Mr. Clark, one of the two.” I found her the first thing in the morning busied over an article she was correcting in proof. Her poems are just making their appearance under Mr. Whittier’s wing (he has written a letter [of] introduction of them to the public) and her fortunes have really changed at last. She has waited some time but I am sure she never deserved it more or had greater need.

Wednesday Bayard Taylor & his wife arrived for a visit (Mother & S. having left yesterday) & Whittier & Aldrich came in during dinner. We had a delightful evening. Mr. Whittier was quite well & talked a good deal for him. Speaking of Rachel Howland he said she was a little too much like a graven image when she was young, but Mrs Mott and ________ Sugar of Pa. were always beautiful speakers. I am sorry to forget the first name of Miss Sugar, perhaps it was Asenath but I am not altogether sure. I think he liked her as a speaker especially—rather placing her for true qualities above all the other speakers. He thought it would be well for Miss Dickinson and the members of the Women’s Club to take lessons of the Quakers whose modesty is such a striking feature of their public addresses. Taylor had much to say of his own verses & his manner of writing them, of his translation of Faust & an original introductory poem in German by himself & I grieve to say talked much more than Whittier.

Thursday morning Mr. Parton came to breakfast & Dr. Holmes came in before we had quite done. O.W.H. was delighted to see Mr. P. because of his papers on “Smoking & Drinking.” He believes smoking paralyses the Will. Taylor on the contrary feels himself better for smoking; it subdues his physical energy so he can write, otherwise he is nervous to be up and away & his mind will not work.

At dinner—we had Lowell, Parton, Mr. & Mrs Taylor, Mr & Mrs Scott-Siddons and later Aldrich. Lowell talked most interestingly, head & shoulders beyond everybody else. The Siddons’s left early, the gentlemen all smitten by her beauty & loveliness. A kind of childish grace pervaded her and she was beautiful as a picture. I could not wonder at their delight. Lowell’s talk after their departure was of literature of course. He has been reading Calderon for the last six months, in the original. He finds him inexhaustible almost. Speaking of novels he said Fielding was the master, although he considered there are but two perfect creations of individual character in all literature; these are Falstaff and Don Quixote; all the rest fall infinitely below,—are imperfect and unworthy to stand by their side. Tom Jones he thought might come in, in the second rank with many others but far below. He said he could not tell his boys at Cambridge to read Tom Jones for it might do them harm, but Fielding painted his own experience and the result was unrivalled. Thackeray and the rest were pleasant reading, very pleasant. And yet how could he tell his class that he read Tom Jones once a year! He scouted the idea of Pickwick or anybody else approaching his two great characters. They stood alone for all time. Rip Van Winkle was suggested but he said in the first place that was not original. Few persons knew the story perhaps in the old latin (he gave the name but unhappily I have forgotten it) but it was only a remade dish after all.

Friday. Bayard Taylor & his wife left for N.Y. Mr. Parton dined out and we had a quiet evening at home and went to bed early.

(Parton thinks it would be possible to make the A.M. far more popular. He suggests a writer named Mark Twain be engaged and more articles connected with life than with literature.)


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