[Boston—Monday & Tuesday, 2 & 3 November 1868]

November 2d & 3d Last night Mr. Emerson’s 4th letter [sic, for lecture] was on the Doctrine of Leasts & Mosts one of the wittiest and most closely packed discourses ever listened to; profoundly bent upon hearing every word, it was one of the most agreeable of audiences, a picked multitude, if I may make a phrase, for I should think there was a strong average of 350 or 400 persons every night to listen. He treated with the subtlest and kindliest wit the foolish exaggerations of speech in which we so many of us indulge; yet he said truly of himself that he was no purist. He held a delicate lance that pierced well.

Mother and Sarah arrived in the afternoon and Lucy Larcom. In the morning Kate Field came to breakfast.

Jamie talked of Motley of whom he has seen a good deal lately. Motley told him he could get nobody in London to print his first volume of history, therefore though he could ill afford it he printed a thousand copies at his own expense and had them circulated. The book became an enormous success at once & as he had no copyright it was printed by 5 houses in London and 2 in Edinburgh. He was pursued by letters from every publisher in London for his second book and his works have been translated both into Russian & Chinese as well as many other languages, it is said, into as many as “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” was. His novels (his first venture) were printed in Boston by Monroe, they have some merit but the publisher either through ignorance of carelessness did little about them. A gentleman (I think Mr. Phillips of P.&S.) told Mr. Fields that after the failure of his first novels he went to see Motley one day & found him with large books strewn about on the floor. “What are you going to do now Motley” “I am hunting up matter for a history of the Dutch Republic.”

The visit over, Mr. Phillips went away saying to himself, another of Motley failures, this young rake about town won’t do much with those books.

Six months later he called again. “How does your work come on Motley.” “Well!” he replied “and I have just taken passage for Europe to continue it there.” He could hardly have been 30 years old then and now he is just 54 and he was over 40 when the book which made his fame at last appeared. Now all the honors which the world has to give are heaped upon him. He is a member of the French Institute and has a string of distinguished titles attached to his name.

Speaking of Longfellow’s lunch with the Queen, Motley told Jamie that he had gone down when he was yet a young author to pass a few days at Balmoral with Lord John Russell. They were in the garden one morning when a message came from Her Majesty who was then at her castle at that place that she wished to see Sir John. Asking to be excused he went immediately to the Queen who begged him to return to fetch Mr. Motley to see them. The carriage drove back; Motley was told to jump in as he was in his shooting jacket and they returned together to pass a most social & agreeable morning with [the] Queen & Prince Albert. Nothing could have been more social & simple than the whole reception & manner of the visit and he enjoyed it thoroughly.


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