[Manchester—Saturday, 6 August 1870]

August 6. A great sound of the sea comes in my window. I think a cool wind from the east brings it on. J. has gone to town and I have lingered under the trees this morning feeling the double glory of freshness and deep green. Last night the moon shone on the bay and Dr. Bartol rowed us gently about until the bright lines of sunset all faded into the deep blue of night and the pale moonshine. I have seldom seen anything more glorious. It is touching to see, how in the failure of desire and of power our poor pastor retains his passion for gazing on these summer glories. That will always abide. Indeed I think he enjoys nature with a more healing perception of her calm than I ever knew him to do before. But he has no reticence and loses and wastes her power over him by refusing to stay in the house at all. He will leave home at 7½ in the morning on a sailing expedition, will return to the house at five when I have known him to say, he could not bear it, and go out again in his row boat to stay until 8. The result is, I think that the power of doing anything is lost, the energy of concentration being utterly weakened if not lost.

I suppose I look over the sea of Dickens’s life more than I am quite conscious of and remember how his powers grew and gathered strength until they snapped. What a blessed lot is that, to work until the last and to work at one’s best too.

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