[Campton—Wednesday, 1 July 1868]

Wednesday. Weather Summer-like and sweet. In our walk yesterday J. delighted himself and me by rehearsing his memories of Willis. J. was at the Astor House when Willis returned first from Europe with his young bride. He was then the observed of all observers. As in those days travellers crossed in sailing vessels, his coming was not heralded; the first that was known of their arrival was when he walked into the Astor with his beautiful young wife upon his arm. He wore a brown cloak thrown gracefully about his shoulders and was a man to remind one of Lady Blessington saying, “If Willis had been born to £10,000 a year he would have been a perfect man.” He was then at the head of the world of literature in America; his influence could do anything and his heart and purse were both at the service of the needy asker. Unfortunately from the first he never paid his debts. J. said, he never believed the tales of Willis’s dissipations. He spent money freely even when he had it not. All the English folk lords and ladies who then came to see America were the guests of Willis.

I asked what his wife was like! “Like a seraph. She was lovely with all womanly attractions. I never shall forget her at Ellen Willis’ wedding. A dress of simplest white, without ornament and manners as simple and perfect as her dress.”

How I would like to tell if words could do it the sweetness and devotion of dear J. There is neither end or limit to his love. What life would be without it I can never imagine!


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