[Manchester—Tuesday, 11 July 1871]

Tuesday July 11. Jamie went to Portsmouth to a picnic in Mr. Albee’s grounds at Newcastle, composed chiefly of Mr. De Normandie’s congregation, the Unitarian clergyman of Portsmouth. Celia Thaxter was there, and Jamie read an unpublished poem by Longfellow written this Spring called Lady Wentworth. The day threatened rain, so they retired to the house for reading. The old mansion has a large council hall being one of the gubernatorial places planted so oddly in the primitive days of the country’s settlement upon the outermost verge of the land, as if thus to be nearer old England! Now these houses make palatial country residences for the summer time, but what exile it must have been for the Puritans. I do not wonder at the grimness which lingers round that name when I reflect upon their lives. Jamie said the utter silence as he read was positively oppressive. The people were touched and delighted by the historic and poetic veil which the verse threw over their surroundings.

Jamie gave so much pleasure that it was delightful to him. In spite of the rain, and detention by rail he returned radiant. Coming down in the freight-train there were but two women beside himself. One of these a young girl of flashing look whose reason seemed unhinged. With her was her mother a poor pale sorrowful woman.

I found a poor little cur, lame and dirty, in my walk. He would not be parted from me until I was safe at home in Miss Crowell’s parlor. Then the air of civilization appeared to displease him. He rested on the couch for a few moments and then trotted quietly away. If we could but guess what goes forward in the brains of these creatures!!


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