[Boston—Thursday, 27 April 1871]

April 27. A whole month gone! I have been ill in New York, have been unfit to write. I am longing for country life—no more fire side and talk just now. I think of great Carlyle in the solitude of his Dumfries home or down in Cheney Row, I think of the good and great everywhere and how they extract the sweet out of bitter. I look into my little patch of ground on the bank of the river and I think how rich my lot is, how brimming over with plenteousness. I mean to be equal to it, with God’s help.

Charlotte Cushman came to see us yesterday. Her full brain was brimming over, and her rich sympathetic voice is ringing now in my ears. She does not overestimate herself, that woman, which is a part of her greatness—for the word does apply to her in a certain way because she grows nearer to it every day. J. de Maistre refused the epithet “grand” to Napoleon because he lacked moral stature—but this hand to hand fight with death over herself, (loving life dearly as she does,) has weakened her hold upon her affection for life, insensibly. She grows daily wiser & nobler.

Hunt’s wife came the day before—a woman of power, of sweetness, of an inherited fire which sometimes burns up in her terribly and is consuming—yet for her husband’s sake and her children’s she must not be consumed. He is like tinder to her flame, exciting it—yet they love each other forever.

Mr. Murry, the preacher met us in the cars going to New York. He is one of the instructors and helpers of our people—yet he is an uneducated man and unread in any true sense; But he possesses the rapture for humanity, the power to die for a principle the gift of showing others how they may gain that power, which gives him beauty and undeniable position as one of God’s agents. We forget what he has not, remembering what he has and praising the Lord for it. He talked of engineers, their responsibilities and small salaries, about lecturers who are unsuccessful without they possess what he called the religious element. Miss Anna Dickinson who has been able to make $20,000 per annum is no longer mistress of the hearts of her audience. How can a woman, as Mr. M. justly remarked, influence the minds of New England women to self sacrificing work, who comes to speak to them adorned in all the colors of the rainbow and the riches of Golconda. Her listeners feel naturally that they are more nearly acquainted with the idea of sacrifice than this woman who pretends to teach them.

Miss Kate Field too is not successful because the Spirit of the Lord is not speaking through her, nor does she strive for it.

The weather was excessively warm, the dust very great and I became ill before arriving in N.Y. There I went to bed and did nothing until I rose to come home a fortnight later. In the meantime the Good Ship Cuba brought Lissie and Laura Johnson home to me. Lissie, artist-like, unpacked her trunks in utter obliviousness of the strew of things presented, pictures, dresses, objets de vertu, all in the finest disarray. It was good to see her again. Her self firgetfulness [sic] is an inspiration to behold, her tender devotedness to those dear to her.

Bryant, Bret Harte, Godkins, indeed a world of pleasant people came to see us, but I could see none of them—except Mrs Shaw who with her sweet placid face over which storms of sorrow have swept her grey curls, her neat dress, neither of stiff old style nor the height of the fashion, in short with the mellow twilight of life upon her cheerful presence, is a refreshment to the sick and to the well. The mother seems stamped upon her whole presence. It was calming and sweet to have her sit and talk as she did for half an hour and much of the time about George Curtis. “I sometimes wish I were not mother in law,” she said “that I might say without restraint all I wish to say in praise of the man.” She told us that when one of the enemies of George Curtis went to her daughter Mrs Genl Barlow (whose husband is also in political life and between whom & G.C. this creature hoped there might be jealousy) & asked what she and Genl Barlow thought of G.C. and whether he was fitted to be Attorney General of the State, she answered demurely—I simply think him better fitted than any man in the country.

Laura Winthrop Johnson has been gone 18 months and comes home to be grateful for the blue sky above her cottage at Staten Island. It is a lovely place & her house is one she has created—no wonder it is sweet in her eyes. She went about devotedly getting things together for the French Fair for me in London & elsewhere. The goods were a decided success.

April 19th Returned to Boston.

April 27th Longfellow, Greene, Howells, & Lissie dined with us. A pleasant little occasion. Longfellow said J.T.F. should be put into the index of G.W. Greene’s history of his uncle Genl. Greene as Fields—J.T. “would not publish”!!

There was much talk of France and republican hopes and prospects for her. Speaking of Miss Thackeray, Mr. Longfellow said he never saw a more emotional person—her whole frame would quiver as her own ideas rose up to be presented.


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