[Boston—Monday, 14 December 1868]

Mon: Dec. 14. Geo. W. Curtis, Gay, the artist, Miss Felton & Mr. Howells dined with us. A bright happy time which seemed to do them all good. They were immensely delighted with some flower-adornments, the vases for which Mr. Dickens sent me from England.

Mr. Curtis told of a surprise he once had in Norwich, Conn. (of all places) where he was invited to a supper after his lecture and just as the company was about to be seated a choir of boys concealed behind a screen sang the Gregorian hymn. At this same wonderful feast when water was needed it burst out from a screen, as when Moses smote the rock. Curtis described also some incidents of travel, hearing himself talked of one night when he was feeling particularly homesick, as a “tedious” lecturer! Then the talk branched off to the wonderful men and woman artists of the world and Jamie brought Barry Cornwall’s Song to Pasta and asked Mr. Curtis to read it wh. he did. Then Howells broke in gently with some Venitian sketch in a few words, Mary Felton with a few touches concerning the West which interested her deeply as she saw it last year. Gay gave a disparaging little fling at Boston—not in ill-temper but as if he doubted the healthy friendliness of the people somewhat. Mary Felton had done this previously, but I am sorry to say I think they both do wrong. Certainly it is not an easy thing to live with others nobly, justly and independently anywhere but I doubt if there is a better town or better people to be found than here. Life is a hand to hand fight and the people who preserve their independence are few, and they suffer for it. But are not those things worth the most to us for which we suffer and contend. It shows some weakness in a man to be oppressed by the opinions of society—in a woman like Mary Felton it shows simply a powerful contest with which she is sometimes wearied out. I wish she might be well married. What a solution of life’s difficulties this is for a woman! And how a wrong marriage makes all things look darker than before.

Mr. Keeler a young Californian came in the evening—knows Mark Twain the humorist. Name comes from a cry on the Mississippi pilot boats—meaning,—clear two fathoms deep—a true friend of humor. Keeler is modest and resolved. He is an unprepossessing skeleton of a man, so thin he might almost sit up beside the “living skeleton” wh. we saw at the menageries in Hanover St. on Saturday. Queer place, that, by the way. Saw a fish (stuffed) 31 feet 9½ long—a monster, with skin like an elephants, purporting to be taken last summer off the coast of Maine. Keeler is full of spirit and will perhaps make for himself a name.

We walked to Roxbury yesterday in the morning, heard Dr. Putnam on the advent of Christ—on the state of living expectantly which should possess the true followers. It was a high holy moving discourse. Full of spiritual life and love.

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