[London—Wednesday, 21 July 1869]
Thursday [sic] July 21st I wish I could find time to write about Alexander Ireland of Manchester who came to breakfast with us this morning. We were introduced by Mr. Emerson who is an old friend of his and by whom Mr. Emerson was admired and loved on his first visit to England in 1833 before he was known to fame. There were many many topics of common interest to be discussed and Mr Ireland was ready to tell us generously about his life and experiences. He brought with him among other valuable papers a letter from Emerson written to Mr Ireland after his first visit to Wordsworth and Carlyle. Mr Emerson has told Mr. Ireland that it was his intention to call upon both these men in gratitude for what they had been to him. But will you not feel it a little awkward? No, I think not said Mr. Emerson, I must at least tell them what they have been to me and perhaps we can discuss some topics which are of interest to both. Very well Mr. Ireland replied but will you write me a line to tell me how you prosper. He promised to do this and the letter which Mr. Ireland read was the result. Of course it will be printed some day so I will not enlarge here. I can only say it is one of the most beautiful things of the kind in the world.
Mr. Ireland brought also notes of Lamb, Campbell, (who was a lover of his mother for whom he wrote some of his poems and at whose house he wrote “Ye Mariners of England.”), Leigh Hunt with whom he was in daily correspondence at one time—Keats etc.
Mr. Ireland has given 25 of the best years of his life to the editor-ship of the Manchester Examiner but whatever his daily toil has been, his constant habit has led him to read two hours every night from ten o’clock until 12 and this not with a sense of weariness & reading to sleep but with the power of reading the best things thoroughly. In this way he reads all the debates in Parliament and keeps fully alive to the condition of politics here. He has a large collection of American books and has read more of our literature than any other Englishman I have ever known, or known of; has an intimate acquaintance and love for the character and work of the men his little book is about as is clearly seen there indeed; has discovered much in relation to them and their works which no other library contains and at the same time is as full of modesty, as he is full of love towards them. His love of literature has been an unfailing source of happiness preventing the wear of little ills in life. By the way, he has eyes like Laura, full and brilliant and calm. Very dark in color too. After remaining a widower for 17 years he married again about 3 years ago and has two beautiful children whose photographs he gave us. His description of visiting Wordsworth, and of his kind reception was characteristic and beautiful. He was staying at Ambleside with his friend Charles Dawson then lately married who had taken Miss Martineau’s house for the summer and he carried his own note asking permission to call upon the poet.
His glimpse of Scott too whom he met unexpectedly with his dogs gambolling about him on the threshold of his own place (Mr. Ireland thought him in Edinburgh) was & is a precious memory to him.
Passed the day with Katie Collins & her husband. Collins is a very sick man and I was struck by the sickness of his brain when I heard him say to the wondering Mabel that he hated physical competence in woman as he should hate the reverse in man. Katie is a queer slight half pathetic, half-mocking little creature.