[Boston—Monday, 18 May 1868]

Monday May 18. Raining like all possessed again today. I was to have done my gardening today but there is no chance yet. Walked over Roxbury with J. yesterday and found everything gay with the coming loveliness. It has scarcely come however.

Jamie was much entertained by tales Mrs Kemble’s agent told him of that lady. How she watched an Irish scrubbing woman dawdle over her work who was paid by the hour and finally called her to her (she was sitting at her own reading desk in the hall) and said in her stately fashion, “I fear, madam if you exert yourself so much over your work you will make yourself ill. Your health is seriously in dangered by your severe efforts.” The woman not seeing the sarcasm replied in the strongest possible brogue to the effect that nothing short of the direst necessity would compel such dreadful labor—whereat Mrs Kemble, with a look not to be re-produced, and a wink to Mr. Pugh, withdrew. She read Midsummer Night’s Dream on Saturday P.M. We went but found the place entirely without air and left after the first part. She did not begin with much spirit but her voice was exquisite and her fur also and her dress was an aesthetic pleasure as a lady’s dress should always be but alas! so seldom is, in this country.

Paul Du Chaillu went to a grand Musical Party with us Saturday night. He looks too much like a gorilla to satisfy one’s senses with regard to the superior creature who is supposed to have discovered the gorilla simply; he is horribly suggestive of the idea of being the gorilla’s cousin or some not too distant relative; nor does the Du Chaillu view of conversation inspire you. However he did well enough for the party which like all such tormenting occasions was a physical boil, a mental depression, a moral retrogradation. As for the music, the Queen of Song was to have been Madme Parepa-Rosa who by the breaking of a railroad bridge was unfortunately detained in Maine until after dark & could not reach Boston much before midnight. We left the party near that time with the assurance that the lady was dressing and would appear before another hour!!

I have not yet done any literary work. I feel great need of reading and reading with a memory, so I try to be satisfied with that. I know by and by the time will come but I long for absorption in something of the kind. Jamie & I propose to begin a catalogue of our books this evening.

Henry James went to N.Y. & thence to Staten Island to visit the Shaws. He found them just taking tea preparatory to going to Brooklyn to hear Mr. Beecher preach. They tried to persuade Mr. James to go but it was hard work—at last Mrs Minturn prevailed. After the service was over Mrs. M. asked him how he liked it. “I was so much moved by it” he said “that if your husband had been there I should have kissed your hand!”

In one short week Longfellow will have gone!


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