[Boston—Saturday, 7 March 1868]

Saturday March 7th Am reading the 2d volume of “Récit d’une Soeur.” The book is full of tenderness. It restores one’s knowledge, apt to become tarnished in the light and air of the world, that tenderness is the sweetest gift we have to give each other, the quality which makes heaven’s nobility. Mrs Stowe has written to Comte Montalembert with regard to it. I hope it is all true—though I know in essentials it is true because it best interprets what is in all our spirits. And yet such development of the best, is rare at least, in this world. We may learn this from such a book; even the highest within us is susceptible of culture and growth and this tenderness, which is heavenly, can be exerted until it may become an irresistible power over man. If we could only remember this forever, that it is not knowledge alone, nor power of the intellect but this ineffable grace which is alone irresistible. Tenderness is born of charity and humility and suffering. It is the perfect flower from the perfected spirit.

I see so strong a likeness between any true story of married happiness and our own life, that it comes to me with peculiar force, as if written for, if not from, myself and when I reflect that in this tale death separated these lovers in two years and we have already enjoyed nearly 14, still the charm and fitness of the story are never broken, only if possible made more exquisite with deepened effects.

Saint François de Sales dit en parlant des veuves: Qu’est ce à dire veuve, ruine destituée, fanée, c’est-à-dire miserable et chétive? et ajoute “La vraie veuve est en l’Église comme une petite violette de mars, qui répand une suavité non pareille par l’odeur de sa dévotion, et se tient presque toujours cachée sous les larges feuilles de son abjection, et par sa couleur moins éclatante, témoigne la mortification.”

Let us substitute the wider word “religion” for “église” and the expression fills and consoles us by its beauty.

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