[Boston—Monday, 3 July 1871]

July 3. William Stillman and his wife (Marie Spartali) passed the evening with us. She is a delicately nurtured woman, hardly more than twenty years old of great beauty and exquisite grace. She has talent and ambition as an artist, and is also accomplished in music. Her father is a Greek merchant of wealth in London. He has had two daughters and both have run away with husbands of whom he did not approve. He is said to be a hard old man and this lady’s sister it is said has had a painful struggling existence. This lady being in ill health her mother is kind to her and will do all she can to help her.

This is the bald story in brief. She is now in America about 6 months after their marriage in order to see her husband’s children (there are 3, one a great invalid) and take them back with her. They have no money except perhaps what is given her by her mother clandestinely and they are living at present during the excessive heats of summer in an upper room of the Parker House. She is evidently not well, he is evidently at his wit’s end to know which way to turn and how to get back to London. Everybody hopes, yet is is almost hoping against hope that Stillman has changed his nature and the selfish creature whose first wife killed herself in utter misery will have learned from that terrible experience how to make this wife happy. London has long been her home, there she has had the best society has to offer, the selectest parties have been lighted by her beauty, she was one of the few elected to hear Viardot sing at Mr. Benson’s a few months ago—and now, what will happen next I can hardly conceive. Her whole presence was invested by such a pathos to our eyes that we could scarcely estimate her by any ordinary observation. I thought he was much more harassed than she, which was but natural as he knew the situation and she did not.


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