[Boston—Tuesday, 25 February 1868]

Tuesday morning. Somewhat fatigued. The Marigold went off brilliantly. He never read better nor was more universally applauded. Mr Emerson came down to go and passed the night here; of course we sat talking until late, he, being much surprised at the artistic perfection of the performance. It was queer enough to sit by his side for when his stoicism did at length break down, he laughed as if he must crumble to pieces at such unusual bodily agitation, and with a face on as if it hurt him dreadfully; to look at him was too much for me already full of laughter myself.

Afterward we all went in to shake hands for a moment.

When we came back home Mr. Emerson asked me a great many questions about C.D. and pondered much. Finally he said, “I am afraid he has too much talent for his genius, it is a fearful locomotive to which he lies bound and can never be free from it nor set at rest. You see him quite wrong evidently; and would persuade me that he is a genial creature, full of sweetness and amenities and superior to his talents, but I fear he is harnessed to them. He is too consummate an artist to have a thread of nature left. He daunts me! I have not the Key.”

When Mr Fields came in he repeated, “Mrs Fields would persuade me he is a man easy to communicate with, sympathetic and accessible to his friends, but her eyes do not see clearly in this matter I am sure.” “Look for yourself, dear Mr Emerson,” I answered laughing “and then report to me afterward.”

While we were enjoying ourselves in this way a great change has come to the country. The telegram arrived during the Reading bringing the news of the President’s impeachment, 126 against 47. Since Johnson is to be thrust out and since another revolution is upon us (Heaven help us that it be a peaceful one) we can only be thankful that the majority is so large. Mr Dickens’s account of the ability of Johnson, of his apparent integrity and of his present temperance, as contrasted with the present (reported) failures of Grant in this respect have made me shudder for I presume Grant is inevitably the next man. Mrs Agassiz was evidently pleased with the appearance of Gen. Grant & his wife. She liked their repose of manner and ease; but I think this rather a shallow judgment because poise and ease of manner belong to the coarsest natures and to the finest in the latter it is conquest; and this is why these qualities have so high a place in the esteem of men; but it is likewise the gift of society people who neither feel nor understand the varied natures with whom they come in contact.

Longfellow is at work on a tragedy of which no words are spoken at present. Today Mr. Dickens does not go out; he is writing letters home. Yesterday he & J. walked 7 miles which is about their average generally.

A little note came from Mary Dodge asking if her first was received and yesterday a gentleman called without previous warning and drew out to the amount of $5000 all the money due her in the hands of Ticknor & Fields precisely as if she either had been or expected to be robbed.

Dr. Hayes & Mrs Agassiz were speaking of the savages here on Sunday night both in Brazil & Greenland & giving some of their peculiarities, somebody said how ready the savage was to break out even through all the fetters of civilization and I could not help reverting immediately to this behaviour of Mary Dodge towards friends of several years and friends who have expended themselves freely & affectionately for her.

Mr. Dickens did not say much Sunday night when Hayes and Agassiz were talking of their Washington experiences but I observed he was somewhat shocked and listened attentively to their respective reports concerning Mr Staunton. Both these gentlemen during the war were threatened with imprisonment; in the case of Hayes disgrace & imprisonment would have be[en] coupled. Their escapes were by a hair’s breadth and they neither of them lose much love to Staunton for his ill-judged treatment of them. “Everybody” thinks affairs have a tendency to make a dummy of the Presidential office and centre the government in Congress.


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 5-20-2024.

Copyright © 2024 Wedgestone Press. All rights reserved.

Back To Top