[Boston—Friday, 1 December 1871]

Friday. Went early to Mrs Putnam’s to inquire if I could help Georgia with her Sunday School Festival today. Mrs Putnam came directly down stairs and we sat together an hour. She went for the letters of her Willie written some in camp a few days before his death, some in the boyish years preceding; they are full of character. Poor heart-broken mother! It was heart-breaking too, sitting by to hear her read words which were like drawing the blood from her very body. She goes soon to Europe where I prophesy Georgie will marry Mr. Hardcastle, Alfred’s friend who came from India to meet them—bad prophet! neither of the two women I think have such an idea, but I cannot be rid of it.

From Mrs Putnam to Vestry where I remained until 2 P.M.—with just time to make two stoppages, and be punctual at my appointment for Mrs Hunt and go to the Concert with her—a Chamber Concert of exquisite music which was transporting—Schuman was first today; next Chopin.

Three Coffee Houses under way beside two established and the North End School take up much thinking time. I shall be glad to get the Coffee Rooms finally launched, because the responsibility weighs somewhat of course. Indeed, should one prove unsuccessful on my hands I should suffer. Poor Mr. Tilden has given his up as a bad job. It has cost me $200 beside the anxiety but if it is our only failure I shall feel as if marvellous success had attended our footsteps.

My dear love gave me Eastlake’s book on Household Taste yesterday—a lovely gift which I much value—for two reasons!

He is reading and lecturing. I have been enjoying Alfred de Musset. The weather is suddenly and fiercely wild. We have had a dearth of water for a few hours from freezing at the mouth of the great reservoir and the whole city was in discomfort and alarm.

L.D. Hunt! What a wild impassioned creature! The music gathered a new impulse to me from listening to it with her. Nothing escapes her keen flashing sense. I came home in the biting air with the yellow sunset fading in the west quickened to the core by it and by her.

Dec. 1st Last Sunday Charlotte Cushman dined here. Our guests asked to meet here were Mr. & Mrs Lowell & Mr. Longfellow. Miss Stebbins & Miss Chapman her guests also came. We had a lovely social time, Lowell making himself especially interesting as he always does when he can once work himself up to the pitch of going out at all. He talked a while with me about poetry and his own topics after dinner. He said, he was one of the few people who believed in absolute truth: that he always looked for certain qualities in writers which if he could not discern they no longer interested him and he did not care to read them. He discerned for instance in the writers who had survived the centuries certain kindred points, those points he studied until he discovered what the adamant was and where it was founded; then he would look into the writers of our own age to see if he could find the same stuff; there was little enough of it unfortunately. He does not like Reynolds portrait of Johnson, thought it untrue, far too handsome—yet highly characteristic in the management of the hands which portray the man as he was when talking better probably than anything ever did. Mrs Lowell appeared to enjoy herself. “J.” says L. is always more himself if Mrs L. is happy and talkative. They are thinking of Europe. Mabel is to be married in April and afterward they probably go at once to Europe.

A small party of friends assembled in the evening. Longfellow was the beloved and observed and worshipped among all.

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