[Boston—Saturday, 23 May 1868]

Saturday 23d I was a bad prophet. The rain still continues. Tonight we had a farewell dinner to Longfellow. Eleven at table. We should have been 12 if Alexander Longfellow had not missed a train. Emerson, Agassiz, Holmes, Lowell, Greene, Norton, Whipple, Dana & Longfellow came. There was much pleasant talk, a charming poem by O.W.H. and the farewells. Longfellow is sad at parting; but we try to make him feel the journey will do him good. He inquires after all his old and humble friends in England whom he intends seeing, rather than any celebrities. He says, the first time he went abroad was to see places alone and no persons: the second time he fancied to see a few people and thus pleasantly combine the two: he thought once that on a third visit he should prefer to go to see people only—but all that is changed now and he goes back to the feeling of his youth. He is eager to seek out quiet inns and Wayside nooks where he may rest in retirement and enjoy the beautiful country of Europe undisturbed.

The rain came down heavily in the pauses of talk and while the verses were read. Mr. Emerson was full of sweetness & talk. He tried to persuade Longfellow to go to Greece to look after the Clephs [sic, for Klephts], supposed authors of Romaic poetry which he and both of them think highly original and beautiful—also to the Nile to see the vast statues which still stand awful and speechless witnesses of the Past. L. is not to be persuaded. He does not wish to travel. He will stay close by his children.

L. told me he saw by the paper that Dickens had gone to Paris!!! If this is true it explains fully the non-arrival of letters.

Agassiz was well again. He struggled with Emerson in talk about Darwin. He is a scientist to the core! Said he had never dreamed! That he, too, longed for the Nile because he wished to study its fishes! He was merry and kindly, liked the claret, said so, and tossed it off appreciatingly between his science & fun. Dana talked of the sea and its safety—of the folly of precaution. It has always been a habit of his since the “Two Years” to carry a compass, coil of rope, jack-knife and flask of tea about with him on his voyages; but the only real strait at sea he was ever in, found him without them!! From that time he gave up carrying anything of the kind preferring to trust himself entirely to the higher care.


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