[New York City—Friday, 17 April 1868]

Friday April 17. Weather excessively warm—sky often overcast.

Last evening Mr. Dickens read again and for the last time Copperfield and Bob Sawyer. He was much exhausted and said he watched a man who was carried out in a fainting condition to see how they managed it with the lively interest of one who was about to go through the same scene himself. The heat from the gas around him was intolerable. After the reading we went into his room to have a little soup, “broiled bones” and a sherry cobbler. His spirits were good in spite of fatigue, the thought of home and the memories of England coming back vividly. We, finally, from talk of English scenery found ourselves in Stratford. He says there is an inn at Rochester, very old, which he has no doubt Shakspeare haunted. This conviction came forcibly upon him one night as he was walking that way and discovered Charles’s Wain sitting over the chimney just as Shakspeare has described. “When you come to Gad’s Hill, please God, I will show you Charles’s Wain sitting over the old roof.”

We left him early hoping he would sleep, but he hardly closed his eyes all night. Whether he was haunted by visions of home, or what the cause was we cannot discover—but whatever it may be his strength fails under such unnatural and continued excitement.

We lunched yesterday with Mr Bryant & his daughter at Mr. Godwin’s. Jamie says Bryant is his ideal of a literary man. He certainly does remind one more of Leigh Hunt and that class of men and any body else I know of in America. The delicate refinement of his conversation and manners is rare for any country, most rare and beautiful in London. He was full of anecdote and especially amused us by a story of a German who could not altogether speak English as was proved when he tried to explain to a friend his manner of preserving his physical health. “The way is, he said, I rub down my corpse well every day.”

April 17th. The first touch of Spring.


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