[Manchester—Friday, 31 July 1874]

Friday July 31. Glorious sunny summer weather “when clouds are highest up in the air!” Dear J. has gone to Rye to see mother and the children—so I have a day which looks like what Goethe says it is “an infinity of time” when he is away.

We have had two strange experiences since we came down here such as never came to us before and I trust they may never be again—the first I have hinted at was Mrs Dame’s refusal to take Mr. & Mrs Darrah on the ground that we did not want them, a most sad and unpleasant rendering of my remonstrance with Mrs Dame for having let rooms or a room to Mrs Darrah which we considered as belonging to us. This is however as well settled at last as such things can ever be I presume, there is a scar which I trust time may heal; we can do no more.

The second trouble was the receipt of a threatening letter from the Irish woman Margaret Murphy whom I had assisted to go into business—the business failed (it was, in the beginning to help the poor creatures thrown out of work by our Boston fire in whom, as they were her neighbors some of them, her heart was as deeply interested as mine) but she had not the talent to carry out her plans, she has a hard husband, her creditors became pressing and she resorted to slander to get money out of us. Jamie was perfectly cool and took no notice of the letter but every day the thought of this desperate woman pursued me. I could not tell what she might do. I thought of it by day and by night—at last I confided my distresses to dear J. who laughed at them—well, I said, I hope you are right but you are never away that I do not feel afraid every moment that she will find us out here and we shall have trouble. No, she will not come here, he said.

He went to Pigeon Cove on Tuesday—after he left it began to rain so I came into the house & began to read, before long I heard a wagon stop and saw a woman jump out. I had forgotten my fears, so I went down to see who it was and found Mrs Murphy. She would not go but said she should stay all day just where she was till Mr. Fields came home.

Imagine my agony. I went up to my room and sat alone. I feared a violent scene. I could not tell what the end might be. I have seldom suffered more. Imagine my relief, when I heard the wagon I had really dreaded for the first time in my life, saw J. get out, heard him greet the woman kindly and tell the boy to wait to take her to the station. He then said I am going to get my dinner now, afterward I will talk with you. She acquiesced, he came to speak with me—told me he knew perfectly how to manage her, that I must not be distressed, he would make all things well. Dear boy! After dinner he had a short talk, the woman apologized for her bad letters, he lent her some $200 as she is really in terrible distress and sent her humbled and rejoicing on her way. I think I really felt almost as much as Mrs Murphy did, for I had been too daring and head strong in aiding and abetting her desire to undertake the business which turned out so fatally. Mr. Beal told me, he had never known a single instance of money loaned in that way to do good. If the poor woman lives she will return this but she has lost her health and has gained a dreary existence with her husband who is a hard man by this failure of hers. But thank God! it is settled at last! I lay down that night and have ever since done so with a lighter spirit.

I am reading Goethe’s Auto. still; rather slow business, though most interesting.


National Endowment for the Humanities - Logo

Editorial work on The Brownings’ Correspondence is supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

This website was last updated on 7-19-2024.

Copyright © 2024 Wedgestone Press. All rights reserved.

Back To Top