[Boston—Friday, 12 March 1869]

March 12th Heard a bird yesterday which I thought a blue bird; it was their day of arrival and the sun shone warm and clear as if to tempt them. Today the snow is falling again.

We passed last evening with Mrs Putnam and her daughter. J.F. Clarke was there. Words can never express the sacred atmosphere diffused in Mrs. Putnam’s house. Jamie calls it The House Beautiful.

She sent her carriage for us and sent us home & her whole hospitality evinces that same largeness of heart and thoughtfulness for the comfort of others. No one can wonder as she says “that life grows fuller and fuller every day.”

We talked of Brittany where Mrs Putnam has often been and thanks to her we shall find open arms extended even in Nantes. A friend of hers Dr Guépin and his wife are natives of that place. I had been reading Souvestre’s book and she told me she knew Souvestre well. He was a noble looking man, Websterian in appearance. He was a warm Republican and died with the death of the Republic soon after 1848. She knew him about that time when his whole air was pervaded by the sadness which killed him. He told her a little incident to illustrate the character of the Brétons, which I think is not in his book. When he returned to his native province after years of absence he stopped a peasant one day and asked the way to some town, “that way” said the man, then pausing a moment as if some turn of expression had struck him, “are you a Bréton?” It is my native land, said Souvestre. Oh then go that way said the man pointing in the opposite direction. Souvestre told the little incident to show the hatred the natives felt toward the French.

Dr. Guépin is a true Republican and has ever been. He has lately been offered a seat in the National Assembly but refused the nomination. Mrs Putnam carried us to her private room. There were Willie’s drawings, his sash and sword, the little board of direction to his camp, last up at Readville “Rue de Putnam →,” a narrow bed, a wide table and couch, all old fashioned and most comfortable with an indescribable air of elegance, without selfish luxury (or as distinguished from that,) such as I know no where else in America.

Jamie and I sat up late talking of the privilege we enjoyed in knowing such a woman and in loving her. Ah me! a higher standard, a fuller life, grows up from such intercourse. We were talking of heaven when Mrs Putnam said, she was sure her interest in this world could never fail, she believed she would wish to know who was secretary of the treasury even in heaven.

She talked rapidly and with fervor all the evening. I was really afraid she might feel fatigued this morning. As for little Charley Lowell he sat intent with his sweet pale but not unhealthy little face full of feeling. He is a perfect Sir Joshua, ready to hand.

How eager one feels to serve those whom we love. So I feel towards Mrs Putnam.


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