[Boston—Sunday, 1 November 1874]

Sunday November 1st It would require a better memory than I have, really to set down our doings of the past month. Louisa’s children have been here with their nurse until Friday and last evening was the first time we have dined alone, I believe, since we returned home on the 21st of September.

The telegram came on Thursday saying their mother & father had arrived and would reach home at six. The joy of little Boylston was touching to see, he hardly knew what he was doing—after all our preparations, floral decorations and long waiting, it was discovered the telegram had omitted dates and they would not be at home until the next day. Jamie lectured that night and did not return until late, therefore we were taking matters slowly in the morning when at 8 a.m. Whittier arrived to breakfast with his niece Mrs Caldwell, an intelligent pretty woman most unhappily married to W.’s nephew, a worthless wretch.

Friday night they came—what joy it was to greet those dear little boys! They were speechless with happiness & gratitude!

“J.” dear fellow, had to go to give a lecture in Framingham. After the lecture was over a little girl came up to him of nine years old and put her arms round his neck and kissed him! The child clung to him until he left although she had never seen him before. There was something in his magnetic manner which took the child captive. He was much touched by this as indeed he could not fail to be. Everybody was kind; and he brought home a beautiful basket of flowers.

Jamie met in the cars as he went to F. a strange man whose name is I believe Benjamin Ball. He told “J.” he had been drinking and had no right to sit by him but he had long desired the opportunity to converse with him and could not now forego the pleasure. Unhappily the desire for drink overcame him at times. He was married and was on his return home to Rochester New Hampshire. He was very communicative as men in his condition frequently are but his mind was even more active than usual apparently. He said his wife was a woman of great beauty and loveliness—the purity and simplicity of her mind and heart were unsurpassed but she was a woman of no culture. In the course of conversation he said they (he & his wife) were once travelling towards the west when they met a lady who was everything his wife was not. She was plain, of a various mind, but she possessed the rarest culture. The result was she made so deep an impression upon him that although he loved his own wife dearly he was [sic] could not forget this other woman.

The way in which his mind dwelt upon this temptation sounds as I write it like one form of the insanity produced by drink, but the feeling was deep in his heart and the memory of that woman was a pain not to be eradicated.

He was a fine Greek Scholar—a worshipper of Sokrates and an unbeliever in Christianity. Years ago some of the fine articles for the A.M. I think “J.” said, one upon the Delphic oracles among others was written by him. Wordsworth, De Quincy, were at his tongue’s end, indeed his worship for Wordsworth was unbounded. He was so sympathetically drawn to dear “J.” that he turned his whole heart towards him. The learning of the man was almost unbounded. It was a touching picture of a wasted and wasting life. He was a solitary, he said, and yet one could see his yearning for the companionship by the way which he sought out “J.” and clung to him.

The Dresels are in their house. He is again at his piano and I can hear him as I write. His touch is so distinct that I can understand what he is doing as I have not been able to do with other pianists who have lived near us.

Mrs Leonowens has made us an interesting visit. I feel as if I had been sitting as D’Isrealli describes Mauritania in his book “sitting apart and gazing on the ruins of her past.” The effect of her mind is to bring the spirit of the orient and breathe it upon the present until a hidden glory seems to grow from common things.

Referring to Mrs Diaz and her sad experience she told me an Eastern tale. There was once a son of good and rich parents who became a bad man. He committed at last a sin against the state and the wise men came to the father & told him. The father recognized the guilt of his son and accepted the burden of his sorrow. The wise men said, we will seat ourselves here and will write a list of his crimes in a book and will sign our names and show him the book. So they sat down with the father and mother. Just then the son came home. Seeing the unusual company gathered he stood at one side of the portal & listened. He heard them name the crimes he had committed and saw the book passed to every hand and signed by each one even by his father. It was given last to his mother. She read again each crime aloud & afterward every name—and then looking up she said—“still I have hope”!

The young man who had hitherto remained unmoved rushed into the room when he heard those words, flung himself at his mother’s feet and said—you have saved me! From that hour the young man arose and became as a new creature.

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