[Manchester—Sunday, 20 September 1868]

Sunday. September 20th Tomorrow we leave. Eight weeks have gone in perfect health and enjoyment! Can we be sufficiently grateful.

Last night we took tea at Mrs Bullard’s and saw a marvellous vision. The sea was on fire; each wave was crested with flame and far out at sea we saw breakers of bright fire toss over the sunken rocks and ran like racers over the surface of the deep. For two nights this marvellous scene has been witnessed by all who live near the shore. Both days have been clear and cold, the air filled with electric fire which at night danced up in the waves toward the black sky. Hours upon hours I have lived out on the shore during the day or in my apple tree in the orchard enjoying untold happiness breathed out of the blue heavens or breathing out of the grass and flowers. How exquisitely the green trees have held up their beautiful arms to catch the gold rays of the sun; how tender all autumnal voices. Ah! must such things die? and living, must I turn away from them, leaving their solitude, their beauty, to fade unsung?

Gay and Homer are both busy with their sketches. They will do all their brushes can to catch something of this fleeting glory. We often see their umbrellas in the distance during our walks and they do the landscape no harm.

They passed Thursday Eve. with us.

Farewell to Manchester.

We drove to Cambridge the day I went to town to call on Mr. & Mrs Leslie Stephen (Harriet Thackeray) and Mr. & Mrs. Lowell. We found them all in the beautiful old house making a pleasant picture round the wood fire. Mrs Stephen looks very ill, she coughs and her husband looks at her with painful anxiety. I could not get her wasted look out of my thought it contrasted so painfully with the richness and glorious color of the day.

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