[Boston—Monday, 26 September 1870]

Monday morning. A glorious shower yesterday has restored the earth and the morning arose clear and glorious in beauty. Poor France more and more miserable, Prussia more & more determined, the news from Europe is indeed sad!

Jamie dined yesterday at Mr. Hooper’s with the Russian minister Catacazy, Mr Sumner, Judge Gray. A fine dinner in a desolate kind of house. It was a circle of politicians such as form an altogether new atmosphere to J. Mr. Hooper himself a man broken in health somewhat, partly I fear through dissipations, partly perhaps by the excited life he has led for years, is perfectly au courant with affairs and able to supply statistics on all occasions. Judge Gray, calm, sensible, intellectual and gentlemanly sustains his part well, Mr. Sumner one of the fullest men both of knowledge & self importance the world has ever seen is seldom out talked never except by such a man as Catacazy who appears only fuller than himself of facts and anecdote. He appears to be one of those Europeans whose cognisance of many languages has enabled him to multiply the world as others know it by three. His fluent use of English is remarkable, he is acquainted with the contents even of the “Atlantic Monthly”, his memory for names & events passing under his eye is extraordinary, altogether, if not perfectly to be trusted (and there is something about him which conveys this impression after all) he is a man of great natural gifts. He is to write an article himself, upon the idea of America as entertained by Russia. He says Alexander at the age of 8 years was discovered in a very thoughtful mood by his father Nicholas standing by the window gazing out without occupation. “What is the matter, my boy,” he asked. “I am thinking father how when I get to be Emperor I shall free all the serfs.” What’s that said his father angrily who has been putting such ideas into your head? “No one father but I have been reading my bible” was the boys reply. It was done as soon as possible as the world knows after he came to power and with his unaided strength except for one man who wore himself out mentally in his service—50,000,000 (22,000,000 of families which he calculated to be about that number of individuals) of people were made free by the strength of that law.

Speaking of the letters of Catherine, II (?) to Voltaire which the world has generally believed to be written by someone else at her suggestion, this minister declares that he, suspecting their originality asked to see the MSS. which are yet in existence and discovered them all written out by her own hand. She also opened a correspondence with Diderot & when he fell into difficulties, herself bought his library which was about to be sold. Sumner declares her letters to be of the first quality, “fine as Voltaire’s”.

Monday morning. Out on housekeeping errands among which I class a visit to the dentist, a search for a chambermaid, the purchase of the dinner and a pair of boots.

After a three o’clock dinner we went to pass the afternoon and take tea with Mrs Putnam. We walked half the way there in a delicious glow of sunset such as can only be seen at this heavenly season in our wondrous climate, arriving we found a wood fire burning on the hearth in the drawing room and three or four figures in the gloaming. I seized an extended hand and soon found it to be that of young Mrs Charles Lowell (Effie Shaw) whose husband was killed in our terrible war. I was grateful and happy to meet her in this way for the first time, such a friend to my Laura as well as friend and relative of the dear Putnams. “Bonny” came and sat a moment on my knees and I kissed the child’s hand reverently when in a few moments she was sent to bed. A child of such devotion and such sorrow is encompassed by a halo of glory in my eyes.

We found Mrs Putnam was on the point of going to town to find us but as she was not well I was delighted to save her this trouble. That house is encircled by a company of angels I do believe. Anything more sweet and sacred than its atmosphere cannot be on this earth. I always come away with a tender and softened heart. Georgina has made the house beautiful by a large room built as a dancing room and play room for Charly—a rich polished floor of plain dark wood & white walls with a stand full of the richest red and white flowers gave a very rich effect. Who would guess of their transferred affections. They have lost themselves to find the good of others.

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