[Boston—Friday, 17 July 1868]

Friday. Last Evening Dr. Holmes came in fresh from the Phi Beta dinner at Cambridge. He said he could not “stay a minute, Mrs. Holmes was alone and he noticed she looked a good deal pulled down by the heat; beside, Motley dined with us yesterday—Mrs Holmes feels the heat very much, it doesn’t matter to me, and I see she looks badly today—well I can’t stop and I only came to read you my verses I read at the dinner, they made such a queer impression. I didn’t mean to go, but James Lowell was to preside & sent me word that I really must be there, so I just wrote these off and here they are. I don’t know that I should have brought them in to read to you, but Hoar declares they are the best I have ever done.” At length in the exquisite orange of sunset he read those delightful verses, full, full of feeling “Bill and Jo.” We did not wonder the Phi Beta boys liked them. J. shall be surprised if every boy especially those who find the almond blossoms in the hair as W. says does not like them and if they do not win for him a more universal reputation than he has yet won. J. thinks they will stand with “A good Time Coming” & lyrics of that popularity.

Wind east, sky clear, day perfection of summer, a little dry perhaps, but exquisite here. I was in my garden soon after sun-rise and saw the grey mist fall back over the sea, while the sun illuminated earth & sky. These long quiet days are full of beauty.

I was impressed last night with the nervous energy of O.W.H. His leg by a slight quiver kept time to the reading of his verses and his talk fell before & after like swift rain. He does not go away from town but sways between Boston & Cambridge all these perfect summer days; receiving, yesterday the hottest day of this or many years, Motley at dinner & going perpetually and writing verses and letters, not a few. His activity is wonderful; think of writing letters these warm delicious evenings by gas light in a small front study on the street! It hurts him less than his wife, partly because the intellectual vivacity and excitement keep him up, partly because he is physically fitted to bear almost everything but cold. How fortunate for the world that while he lives he should continue his work so faithfully. He will have no successor, at least for many a long year, after we have all gone to sleep under our green counterpanes & Nature has tucked us up well in yearly violets.


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