[Boston—Saturday, 25 April 1868]

April 25th A snow-storm. Jamie was up at five o’clock, very fresh and so unspeakably grateful and happy for our house which never seemed more quiet or more restful. We have been almost absolutely undisturbed since our return although yesterday providentially being bright I was able to walk to Roxbury to try to find mother. Today we have passed the early morning by an open fire, defying the storm outside by persistent in-door cheerfulness. Now my darling has gone for the day; he dines with the Club this afternoon.

We cannot bear to take out the photographs of our friend and hardly dare to speak his name except in a far off way and yet I find we both furtively ransack the newspapers for the least mention. “He has gone home to his dear ones and to the splendor of England’s summer” I say over and over to myself remembering that his happiness should make us happy—but it is the same when our dear ones go to Heaven we know they are glad, but the darkness shuts down fearfully about ourselves. It is the deep bitter pain of absence, not to be wiped out nor to be considered wrong. Thank God “Jesus wept!” What centuries of mourners have been grateful for those words.

We count the days when letters will come from him but with a sadness nothing can heal for his presence can never be the same again to us. When we see him at Gad’s Hill we shall find a man overwhelmed with people and affairs. The hours we have sat with him watching the kindling of his sad eyes, their swift flashes, their frequent merriment! That skull so delicate yet so strongly defined, the whole glowing presence! We can think of nobody but Shakspeare as ever having been like him, nor can we divest ourselves of the idea of a strong resemblance between the two. The love of both for the stage, their knowledge of it, the very shape of the head and exhaustless vitality of the frame, their love of good fellowship, the thousand nameless suggestions which flash upon us as we talk with him, all confirm this impression.

I cannot sufficiently lament my imperfect record of his talk; yet what rendering could ever convey its subtle spirit, so much being always implied or flashed upon the minds of others in the best conversation.

My respect for Miss Hogarth grows as I reflect upon Dickens. It is not an easy service in this world to live near such a man, to love him, to desire to do for him. He is swift, restless, impatient, with moods of fire, but he is also and above all, tender, loving, strong for right, charitable and patient by moral force. Happy those who live, and hear, and do, and suffer, and above all love him to the end. Who love and labor with and for him. He can be, he must be, the whole world and the light of the future to them. Miss Hogarth has labored for him with remarkable success and for his children. But even now he might be lonely such is his nature. When I recall his lonely couch and lonely hours I feel he has had a strange lot. May his mistakes be expiated.

The housekeeper at the Westminster was most anxious to tell me of the interest he took in a poor Irish girl, his chamber maid, who had been seduced and was confined in the house last winter while he was there. He gave her 60 dollars to send her to California and mother and child are doing well in large measure by his kindness. He told the housekeeper not to tell but she could not keep it to herself altogether and she wished me to speak of it to him, that he might know she had at least told me. I tried to explain to her that he meant what he said and persuaded the good woman against her inclination to let the subject drop.

This page is a real relief; here I can set down the thoughts which assail us of the departed. I know it is wrong to give up to this and when the skies clear I shall try to work for others and forget not him but myself. Will Spring ever come? I have been reading The Lover’s Journey today of which C.D. spoke to me, because of the effect of mind upon landscape. It is a pleasure to go back a generation or two to older writers and there is a true simplicity in Crabbe which never fails to attract. I fancy C.D. has read him well.


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