[Manchester—Saturday, 16 July 1870]

Saturday 16th A perfect summer day. Jamie did not go to town but with a bag full of letters and mss. concluded to remain here. He fell first upon a mss. by Henry James Jr. a short story called “Compagnons de Voyage” and after tasting of it in our room and finding the quality good (though the handwriting was execrable) I invited my dear boy to a favorite nook in the pasture where we could hear the sea and catch a distant gleam of its blue face while are we still in shadow and fanned by oak leaves. It was one of those delicious seasons which summer can bring to the dullest heart, I believe and hope. We lay down with our feet plunged into the cool delicious grass while I read the pleasant tale of Italy to the close. I do not know why success in work should affect us so powerfully, but I could have wept as I finished reading not from the sweet low pathos of the tale which was not tearful, but from the knowledge of the writers success. It is so difficult to do anything well in this mysterious world. I was shocked by hearing Bayard Taylor say the other day that his enjoyment of life was probably keener than that of any other man!! There was something fearful to me in such a confession by a man near fifty years old. The heavenly power of sympathy must so often one would say tarnish the most brilliant love of life in every fine nature long before that age. But in this gentle story I read today a veil of tender sympathy was thrown over everything and yet the beauty of the surrounding world in which we read was so divine that we surrendered ourselves to the lovely mystery of creation in its double nature with faith & peace. I came home and read Plato’s “Meno” while Jamie took a sail with Mr. Bartol.

What a climate ours is! Surely we can not exchange even with that of Venice!

Last night I dreamed of Dickens! And awaked with a sense of wonder such as Whittier expressed when we last saw him, of “What he is doing now”: I can often see him as he is described during those last few months—grown so very very grey. Then I thank God afresh that he is no longer in a world which held so much pain for him. I hope Miss Hogarth may come.

The more I think of him, the more a desire to do some work in the world and according to my best power, is quickened.

We find this village in which we live very pretty. A bell rings stoutly from the white steeple at 12 o’clock, and one fire engine has lately been introduced; the two noisy elements of the place if we except the railroad. Between the hours of the arrival & departure of the trains we are for the most part as quiet as if we lived in the middle of the meadow yonder near the sea. There is a tulip tree just outside my window now in blossom whose rich green leaves tell of a warmer home than the one it has found; but it has acquired a look not out of keeping with the face of nature around by having lost one of the large boughs on its unprotected side in the great gale of last September. How rich even the meanest place is in material. I see poems and stories blossoming all around me. Alas! strong arms are needed to gather the fruit.


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