[Boston—Wednesday, 27 January 1869]
January 27. Day after day slips away but as I give five hours of each to our baby I absolutely cannot write here but my German comes on swimmingly and I know it is better to be writing in this infant’s mind than anywhere else. It certainly is astonishing that he should never wish to go home but not a desire escapes his life nor do I think one ever crosses his mind. We think much of Europe and Mabel and I had a great time of rejoicing the other afternoon, the first moment she could get in town.
The weather is as nearly perfect as possible all the time, a wonderful season and we flatter ourselves the Spring will be equally fine—our intention is to sail April 28th
William Lloyd Garrison came to see me this afternoon and stayed an hour. He is looking rather old but is ripe and full of faith. He had been sitting with Charles Sprague and the two compared notes. Mr. Sprague told Mr. G. that he could never forget three sights he had seen from the windows of the old Globe Bank in Wilson’s lake where he found daily occupation for many years. One was seeing a man with a bald head (meaning Mr. Garrison) maltreated by an angry mob and come along the street; the second the capture of Anthony Burns and the third the marching of the first colored regiment under Colonel Shaw on their way Southward.
In return Mr. Garrison was able to tell him of the delight he had in setting up in type a certain Shakspeare Ode—of course this pleased Mr. Sprague. The talk of the two old men naturally enough then turned to Shakspeare and his commentator. It seems there is a new book by one Holmes reviving Miss Bacon’s theory, a book Mr. Sprague could look upon with neither favor nor patience. This led Mr. Garrison to speak of the Letters of Junius which he had always endeavored to take as a model for his own style, as far as he had ever acquired any. The authorship is surely the best preserved of literary secrets, but Mr. Garrison does not at all follow the prevailing idea given out by Macauley I believe, and others that the author was Philip Francis, he believes Earl Chatham to have been the father of them and this from internal evidence, the apparent contradiction of opinions in them to the opinions of the Earl being of no weight he thinks as an argument against his paternity if he had strenuously determined to remain unknown. Mr. Garrison has been especially stirred by a little book called the “Gates Ajar” written by Miss Phelps of whom he was eager to learn some thing personally; it was almost too good to believe that she was the daughter of an Andover Professor.
The gentle fading of Charles Sprague’s life, content among his books was a delightful picture to Mr. Garrison. Anna Loring Dresel came to dinner, talked much of Lowell as she is apt to do and of their old friendship. Told us of Mr. Dresel’s life in Germany among musicians, Joachim & the rest where if there is no longer great composers there are great performers and the artistic spirit is possessed with as strong a life as ever. The story-book enthousiasm over music is to be found there, the very hot-bed of genius, is life and breath to a man like Dresel. He is glad however to call America the land of his adoption and wishes his children to be educated here.