[Boston—Tuesday, 24 May 1870]

May 24. Georgie Lightly, my little English waif, was taken to his new home in St. Johns. The lady, Mrs Jewett, who took him was one of those lovely, simple, delicate, angelic natures which seemed to be raised up for this purpose. It was awful to see the hand of God so near and I felt as the carriage drove away with the excellent John & the child as the disciples did on the Mount of Transfiguration, “It was good for us to have been here”.

Directly after I went to Cambridge to hear Mr. Emerson, the skies were lowering but the air was full of fragrance. Came directly home afterward because we were to have a delightful dinner company. Mr. Longfellow—his brother, Dr. Holmes, Mr. Dana, Mrs Maria Weston Chapman and her sister, Miss Dora Weston.

It was really great enjoyment. Mr. L. & Dr. H. sat on either side and talked incessantly but naturally and as if they enjoyed it. Dr. Holmes said he thought the value of a poet to the world was not so much his reputation as a writer or the pleasure that any one poem might give to posterity, as the fact that he was known to be rapt out of himself away into the region of the Divine—that the Spirit had descended upon him and taught him what he should speak.

Mr. L. brought me a little translation of his from Platon—two night songs of great beauty. When Mr. L. talks so much & so pleasantly I am curiously reminded of Dickens’s saying to Forster who lamented that he did not see Longfellow upon his return to London, “It was not a great loss this time, Forster, he had not a word to say for himself—he was the most embarrassing man in all England!” It is a difference of temperaments which will never let those two men come together. They have no handle by which to take hold of each other. Longfellow told a gentleman at his table when J. was present that Dickens saved himself for his books there was nothing to be learned in private—he never talked!!

Mrs Chapman talked somewhat about Miss Martineau whom she has known intimately since 1835.

There was a good deal of criticism upon the imperfect condition of science in America. Mediocre things are terribly passable. Dr. Holmes said nothing had injured him as much as the too great praise bestowed on his “Windfalls”!!

Mr. Longfellow told an amusing anecdote of two carriages in two successive days parting with the two front wheels at Nahant, and on inquiry he found they were made to come apart easily by some happy theory of the carriage maker!!!


National Endowment for the Humanities - Logo

Editorial work on The Brownings’ Correspondence is supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

This website was last updated on 6-15-2024.

Copyright © 2024 Wedgestone Press. All rights reserved.

Back To Top