[Manchester—Friday, 11 August 1871]

Friday afternoon. Drove in the “phony foeton” along Beverly Shore and called at the beautiful place of William Loring to see his motherless daughters. The place was beautiful as fairy land—the brook fringed with ferns under the shadow of pine trees and the glorious sea beyond all. Then to Mr. King’s which is quite unlike the others, but very simple and lovely also, being entirely sheltered from the outside world by its position. We found Rosa Hopper on the piazza—a woman whose name has long been familiar. A sweet youthful face considering the many years which have passed over it. This piazza is broad, with an old fashioned air about it, much sheltered by roof and greenery, with glimpses of the sea prettily admitted by pruning the trees to allow sunshine and ocean to peep through. Below the piazza was a thick tangle of vines and barberries making a kind of hedge which they called a bosque. I had heard the word “bosquet” but I never heard this queer derivation before. It is pretty & descriptive. Thence we drove to Mr. Towne’s Eagle Head to tea where we found Dr & Mrs Furness from Philadelphia and their brilliant daughter Mrs Wistar. They are people who have had deep sorrows. Mrs Furness having lost a favorite son, Mrs Wistar her only child—a boy of 12. but Mrs Wistar was as brilliant a woman as I have met almost too excitable, but brim-full of incident which she remembers and delivers with astonishing vigor and relish. Her stories of Father Donne an Irish priest who married a favorite servant of hers, were inimitable. The first time she fell in with him was on this occasion of the wedding. She was the only lady present & her seat as being considered the best was in front & quite behind a door when it was thrown open, by wh. the holy father entered the sacristy. They had come at the wrong time and as he entered it was with a good natured reproof of all their carelessness, but when he heard Mrs Wistar’s voice (which he had not perceived because of the door) speaking in extenuation of the fault. “Ah, he said, indade, ye air the Virgin ye shall be the holy Virgin of the company.” He sent the pair into the church together and taking Mrs W’s hand he said, We are Caatholics and will walk thither, they are the Romans. But it is impossible to describe his sermon & his air of tossing a wink to her as he took of his stall and saying “rays of Popery”!!

The beauty of this place is full of impressiveness to these newcomers, and yet I think they can hardly feel it as we do who never are without it. These last two days I have been somewhat shut up, but their glory has been beyond all description.

Sunday morning. I forgot to write down what Mrs Wistar told me of Thackeray which was after all far more interesting than everything else and yet it went dancing away from my stupid memory yesterday as I wrote. She said Mr. Sing, a young attaché of the Government (whom I knew a little, but whom she knew a great deal,) a good young fellow and the son of a friend of Thackeray was in this country when he came over and a warm affection sprang up between the elder and the younger man. After a time Mr. Sing married a young Washington belle, a sweet creature, and a beauty but a little thing utterly guiltless of knowledge of life & what pretty things may cost. He carried his wife back to poverty and London. There, Thackeray and Trollope 3 times subscribed and paid Sing’s debts—at length Thackeray went to him one day and said, “I am going to the continent where my children already are to remain two years. I shall often wish to return to England, now will you rent me an apartment in your house and let me come to you when I can? The sweet thoughtfulness of this demand so tenderly made, a demand which at once put them out of positive want by the surety of a small income every week must have touched their hearts, especially as in their love for him. No guest could have been half so welcome.

Thackeray then wrote Philip and Mr. Sing is Philip.

Later in the evening Mrs Wistar, who really knew Mr. Thackeray very well and loved him deeply told me both Mr. Sing and Mr. Thackeray had told her many many things about the brother of the celebrated O’Connor who was the original Major Costigan. The extraordinary tales which she then gave us of the outrageous manner of the man were quite as outrageous as any thing in the book. She had committed to memory a challenge he sent to a noble duke, in which he blackguarded not only the noble duke himself, but the noble duke’s wife and all his connections—and when Mr. Sing asked O’Connor if the Lady was the woman he represented her, his reply was “How in the divil should I know man!”—

Miss Oakey put a silk scarf about her head last night and personated to perfection an Eastern Fellah woman. Jamie put on my water-proof and transformed himself into an old monk. Miss Bartol with her pink eyes “convulsed us all by saying it was Miss Oakey.”

Read a touching article on Mrs Hawthorne by G.W Curtis.


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