[Manchester—Saturday, 26 August 1871]

August 26. All these days have gone by! Lissie Adams has been here passing a week. Morning and afternoon I have been in the pony-chaise with Mrs Darrah and herself, sitting with them in beautiful places while they made sketches. Mrs Darrah’s are very fine. I wish I could say as much for Lizzie. We have also read through Robert Browning’s new poem Balaustion, a great and beautiful fresh flower of his genius. It is silently dedicated to his wife, above the external dedication to The Countess Cowper.

Thursday afternoon we passed at Mrs Towne’s. We carried Miss North over and she sang to us delightfully. What a pleasure it is to hear fine singing. I would like to be able to make others happy so! We drove home afterward in the moonlight. It was very delightful. Friday was excessively warm. Jamie finished his lecture and we went sailing in the afternoon over a soft grey silent sea. We could hear the breakers on reefs of rock far away from us.

Today Miss Anne Whitney formerly a writer of poems, now a sculptress, came to dine with us—a small woman with glorious dark eyes, white hair, brushed back from her face and worn short at her throat and clear cut features. She has lately been in England and has seen Herbert Spencer, which led to much talk of his philosophy. I was pleased with her simple clear-cut way of defining his philosophy and of sticking to the point, until she had said all she had to say as clearly as she knew how. Mr. Bartol on the contrary (having never read Spencer) floundered and turned bitter and yon making mince-meat of the table except in saying one good thing for which I forgave all the rest and would have forgotten much more. He said, The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as a Trinity he assuredly believed in, if they would only make The Son large enough to signify all the children of men. I do not know if this idea is original with him, but there is certainly a beautiful idea in it—not that I could ever give up, the representative man Christ, since the Lord has given us such a glorious example—but the other view has a fine truth sustained in it. I found a beautiful expression in a story by George Macdonald a few days ago. He speaks of one of his heroes having a believing heart, which he saw evidenced by his courtesy towards a woman. “Belief to my mind” he says simply “lies chiefly in the practical recognition of the high and pure.”

Jamie’s lecture has gone to the printer today to be struck off.


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