[Manchester—Friday, 12 August 1870]

Friday August 12. Jamie came from town on the 12th after a long hot day. It was still raining although very warm when he arrived and we sat at the window in the good Bartols room looking out upon the thick curtain of grey-cloud which was frequently pervaded by distant lightning. It was calm and soft not sharp or often intense.

Jamie had been dining with Alexander H. Rice a man who always behaves to him with perfect unreserve and interests J. by his character. He gave him the History of the Grand Musical Festival which came off last year in Boston while we were away, where an orchestra of 10,000 & an audience of 30,000 people were held together during six days. It was a prodigious success! Rice was the President. How did you happen to get in for it, asked J. “I’ll tell you,” was the reply. “Gilmore came to me, unfolded his plan and asked for aid. He had pawned every article he owned in the world and had come to the end of all and must have money. I asked him what put it into his head. God Almighty he answered. The American people ought to have a musical Jubillee after such a war. Well, he talked to me in such a way that I said I would see what could be done. So I went round to get money and before I knew what I was at I had $90,000 invested. I was in too deep then to retreat. They chose me President and I said the President of the United States must come. I was laughed at but started for Washington at once. On my way thither I met Judge Hoar who asked me in a scoffing manner, How the Musical Festival was coming on. Well, I said, and I am going now to get the President to come to it. You can’t do that, he said and we parted. When I came to Washington I went at once to the White House. “The President is engaged now, Mr. Rice, but if you will return at six you can see him, was the answer given me. At six I returned but the President was out. I was asked to wait half an hour which I did, but believing I had been deceived and no message had been given the President with regard to my interview I took the train and returned to Boston.

I went at once to see Mr. Chandler and talked Festival to him one hour without intermission until I saw he was deeply interested. Now, said I, will you write a letter for me to Judge Hoar asking him to get the President to come on, a letter which I may read not as if I had asked you to write one, will you please do it now. Oh I can’t do it now, he said. Yes you can do it now. I will sit here and read. I took up a book from the table while he wrote as strong a letter as I could wish which I took from his hands to the telegraph office and sent immediately over the wires to Hoar. The next day I received a reply “The President will come.” I took this to the Mayor, saying, Mr Mayor the President is coming here this summer & we must do our best to receive him magnificently. I proceeded to detail my plans for his reception. “I am sorry said he Mr. Rice, I know but one thing against your plans and that is (taking a letter from his desk) this letter from the President. The letter was dated several days back and was a cautious refusal to the Mayor’s invitation. Ah we don’t go back now a days Mr. Mayor that is a thing of the past. So it was all settled the President came, it was an enormous success and we presented Gilmore after all debts were paid with $49,000.”

Jamie says he never saw a man subject to quicker alterations from gay to grave than that man. He talked much about his years of suffering since the death of his wife. Sleep forsook him for months until one night something prompted him to get out her daguerreotype and put it on her pillow when he fell asleep at once beside it and it has proved infallible ever since. He has never been a meddler in spiritualistic affairs but once when his wife was very ill, he fell in with a medium who brought up the spirit of his dead brother who told him that Mr. F.T. Gray the clergyman, whom he did not know at all could tell him of a physician who would cure his wife. He hunted up Mr. Gray and his wife recovered immediately.

Yesterday darling J. and I passed the entire day together alone except at meal times. We drove in the woods in the morning and walked by the misty shore in the afternoon and between whiles read aloud Great Expectations which interests him deeply. Dear Dickens is seldom out of our thoughts. I see his face near mine at unexpected seasons.

J. told Longfellow, as was quite right, about E.L.T.

This morning it rains again persistently.

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