[Manchester—Sunday, 27 August 1871]

Sunday August 27. A warm dry day. Last night Imogen Willis Eddy and her little child of not quite 3 years of age came down to pass a week with us. Nelly the baby has won all hearts—the whole household has fallen in love with her and we all troop after her feet as if she were the Pied Piper and we the children. We took them to the beach this afternoon; the clouds had stirred showing blue sea and blue sky with a soft mist over both and a warm strong south wind blowing. Nelly’s rapture on seeing the sea was not less touching, became undefined and inexpressible by her infant mind. She played about upon the shore until she became utterly overcome by fatigue and sleep. We brought her home in the “phony foeton” in our arms fast asleep all the way.

Jamie dined with the Club yesterday and Walter Scott was remembered as if it were his birthday. Agassiz presided and there were three Scotch Professors present. Also Emerson, Judge Hoar, Holmes, Edward Perkins (guest), Hedge[,] Thayer (guest), author of life of Beethoven, Sumner and others—Lowell was absent at Mt Desert & Longfellow at Nahant. Jamie suggested to Agassiz that it was time to begin the talk about Scott. “Thank you my dear Fields, I had entirely forgotten it. I have been busily discussing scientific subjects with my friend. I ought also to confess to this company that I have read only one of the novels of Walter Scott, that is Ivanhoe but if God please, before my death I will read two more. My time is always much occupied in other directions and it was not until I came to this country that I read even Ivanhoe.” He then introduced one of the Scot[c]h Professors, who spoke of Sir Walter as having kindled the fires of imagination upon the soil of Scotland. He said he was the son of a clergyman and the only three books given him in his child-hood were “Bostock’s, four States of Men” “Flavel! on infidelity” and Pilgrim’s Progress. He liked the latter book so well that he asked his father if it were wicked to read on week-days a book he liked so much on Sundays. “Imagine he said what Walter Scott’s novels were to him!” A brother professor discussed the point whether Burns or Scott had contributed the most largely to the cultivation of imagination in Scotland. The first held out for Sir Walter—Burns being as he said too violent and eccentric in his power to influence a large number of people. Holmes came in with great enthousiasm, said a few words and read his own published letter. Emerson spoke with brilliant effect and beauty two or three times, Judge Hoar first called him out by saying that he was chopping wood that morning in his wood-shed when Emerson came in. He said such brilliant things and spoke so well of Sir Walter that if he could only repeat a portion at the table he would delight them all. Emerson rose then and retorted with a response to the brilliancy of the Judge’s imagination which had conjured up such things in a wood shed. He then expressed his sense of gratitude for Sir Walter but said that the root and gist of his genius was all to be found in the Border Minstrelsy.


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