[Boston—Friday, 24 April 1868]

Friday April 24th At home! I find in the pain of parting I have written more than I knew at the time, above. But I could do nothing else that sad morning,—that wretched day—but foresee and afterward rehearse our loss and our tears were hardly dried at all until the golden sunset shone out to welcome us home last night. For Jamie felt it sorely and it was in one way harder for him, being obliged to go to the ship. When he came back we put our arms about each other and then for the first time his grief gave vent to itself in tears. My memory goes back again and again to the last scene, the last embrace, the look of pain; the bitter bitter sobs after he had fairly gone. He goes to the English spring, to his own dear ones, to the tenderness of long tried love. He leaves us only the memory of our joy and the knowledge that we can see him no more as we have done. Never again the old familiar intercourse, the care for him, his singleness of regard for us.

What a blessed comforter time is—two days ago I could not have written this for tears. Now it does me good to write it for these things can never be spoken of except with my beloved, and it is for his sake as well as my own comfort that I make this little record that if we both live as years roll on, our mutual joys and pains knitting us still more closely together, we may refer to points where memory fails us and make the links complete.

After the Press dinner in New York Mr. Dickens repeated all his speech to me, as I believe I have said above, never dropping a word. “I feel,” he said “as if I were listening to the sound of my own voice as I recall it. A very curious sensation.” Jamie asked him if Curtis was quite right in the facts of his speech. He said “Not altogether, as for instance in that matter about the Queen and our little play “Frozen Deep.” We had played it many times with considerable success when the Queen heard of it and Colonel Phipps (?) called upon me and said he wished the Queen could see the play. Was there no hall which would be appropriate for the occasion. What did I think of Buckingham Palace. Any suitable room there should be placed at my disposal. I replied that could not be for my daughter played in the piece and I had never asked myself to be presented at court nor had I ever taken the proper steps to introduce them there and of course they could not go as amateur performers where they had never been as visitors. This seemed to trouble him a good deal so I said I would find some hall which would be appropriate for the purpose and would appoint an evening, which I did immediately, taking the Gallery of Illustration and having it fitted up for the purpose. I then drew up a list of the company chiefly of artists, literary & scientific men and interesting ladies which I caused to be submitted to the Queen begging her to reject or add as she thought proper, setting aside 40 seats for the royal party. The whole thing went off finely until after the first play was over when the Queen sent round a request that I would come and see her. This was considered an act of immense condescension and kindness on her part and the little party behind the scenes were delighted. Unfortunately I had just prepared myself for the farce which was to follow and was already standing in motley dress with a red nose. I knew I could not appear in that plight so I begged leave to be excused on that ground. However that was forgiven & all passed off well although the large expense of the whole thing of course fell on me which amounted to one hundred and fifty or two hundred pounds. Several years after when Prince Albert died the Queen sent to me for a copy of the play. I told Col. Phipps the play had never been printed and was the property of a gentleman Mr. Wilkie Collins. Then would I have it copied. So I had a very beautiful copy made and bound in the most perfect manner and presented to her Majesty. Whereupon the Princess of Prussia seeing this asked for another for herself. I said I would again ask the permission of Mr. Collins and again I had a beautiful copy made with great labor. Then the Queen sent to ask the price of the books. I sent word that my friend Mr. Wilkie Collins was a gentleman who would I was sure hear to nothing of the kind and begged her acceptance of the volumes.” “How has the Queen shown her gratitude for such favors” I said. “We have never heard anything more from her since that time.”

Good Mr. Dolby said quietly, “You know in England we call her “Her ungracious majesty.”

Certainly one would not have believed it possible for even a queen’s nature to have become so hardened as this to the kindly acts of any human being—not to speak of the efforts of one of her most noble subjects and perhaps the greatest genius of our time.

It is the most difficult task of all in writing a diary to tell the straight things in a straight way which you have seen with your own eyes or heard with your own ears. In the first place the matter which fills us most deeply is the most difficult to speak of.


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