[Boston—Friday, 1 July 1870]

July 1st The weather has been very warm since our return as it was while we were with Mrs Dorr. Yet it was fine weather to see her place in with its fine groves & laurel & lawns and lake; there are few things more beautiful in America. Whittier came about 4 in the afternoon & stayed until 10. He talked with us almost uninterruptedly about Dickens. To his solemn country life Dickens has brought such sunlight that Whittier has a grateful love towards him. He wanted to hear all that could be told and after tea as we sat in the dark he said suddenly “What’s he doing now? Sometimes I say with Shakspeare’s exuberance O for some “courteous ghost.” But nothing ever comes to me. Now he was so human I should think thee must see him sometimes. It seems as if he were the very person to manifest himself and give us a glimpse beyond. I believe I have faith, I sometimes think I have, but this desire to see just a little way is terribly strong to me. I have expressed something of it in my verses to Mrs Child about “Loving.” Of course the sense of presence and longing was very great while we talked of these hidden things. The feeling returned which came last Saturday, when reading Plotinus upon the communication of incorporeal natures, of seeing those beautiful eyes bending over and looking into mine. He soon began to talk of prayer, of its deep value and purpose to these human souls, of the very attitude and sense of dependence as a good in itself, of the answers which we surely receive, of the abuse of prayer and of its neglect by the new school.

We found very deep waters washing up about our feet as we walked upon those sands but God’s fresh air blew over us and when our belovèd guest rose to go, we felt it was good for us to have been there.

He was much shocked by the ovation paid him at the Union Club N.Y., not in the least prepared for it. He also spoke of John Woolman and of his likeness to Christ. He wishes to edit and let J. publish a fitting volume of John Woolman that the world may learn to read.


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