[Boston—Monday, 27 December 1869]
Monday 27th—a call from Mr. Emerson. He talked of Lowell’s “joyous genius.” He said “when I saw the extracts from his new poem in the Advertiser I said no, no! He must not do this! But I have read what he has done, with great interest and am sorry I have been so slow as not to have written him yet. Especially as I am to meet him at the Club dinner today.”
“How is Pope,” he said crossing the room to look at the picture. Such a face as that should send us all to re-reading his works again. Then turning to the bust of Tennyson by Woolner which stood near, he said, the more I think of this bust and the grand self assertion in it, the more I like it. We have talked it over at home and that proud self satisfaction in his works which Mr. Fields told us of, we have come to like.
My errand was to take my picture (a head of Tennyson we brought him) but I have left it here thinking you would like to have it to look at and to show.
I have seen three remarkable letters by Henry James, one describing Mrs Lewes whom he found inaccessible save by the kindness of Miss Norton. A woman desperately homely with a horse face, but when she speaks she is so affable that he fell in love with her and could not recover but wished to hold her face forever before him.
He spoke of the dedication to Lowell’s book as if it gave him real pleasure.
Edward and he have been reading “The Holy Grail.” The high antique morality of the book impresses him with peculiar force. Great and beautiful poetry he finds in it and his face glowed as he recalled the evening he had spent over its pages with his son.
I told him about Mrs Tennyson, how sweet she was, how she swayed him, how she was like one of the Queens who stood at the crowning of King Arthur! “Is she affable” he asked.
I think he could have stayed longer but was engaged at dinner. He had been looking for Dibden’s [sic] Decameron at the Athenaeum and took a little turn among our books to try to find it but it was not there.
The true Decameron we had but not that.
He spoke of the gentleness he found in Tennyson. Ah yes I could not refrain from saying, a quality we feel the want of in much of the good writing round about us. He smiled as if he under stood me, gently, but only said yes yes half underneath.
He complains of the hard words in Lowell and laughed at himself for being “posed” by down-shod “I thought I knew all about shoeing a horse, but down-shod—no I could not tell what that was until Ellen looked up and said why shod with down father and then I saw at once how dull I had been.”