[Hartford—Friday, 28 April 1876]

Their two beautiful baby girls came to pass an hour with us after breakfast. Exquisite affectionate children the very fountain of joy to their interesting parents.

Mrs Perkins and Mrs Cowen called. I went with the latter to what is called their Union for Home Work and saw an excellent pair, Mr. & Mrs Sluyter and their children whose lives are dedicated to the service of the poor and lowly. Mrs Sluyter is one of those angels in human form raised up to benefit humanity. How much such women need encouragement. How much we need them. I was pleased to hear that George McDonald appreciated Mrs Sluyter thoroughly.

Returning to lunch I found our host and hostess and eldest little girl in the drawing room. We fell into talk of the mishaps of the stage and the disadvantage of an amateur under such circumstances. “For instance on the first night of our little play,” said Mr Clemmens “the trousers of one of the actors suddenly gave way entirely behind which was very distressing to him though we did not observe it at all.”

I want to stop here to give a little idea of the appearance of our host. He is forty years old with some color in his cheeks and a heavy light colored moustache & over hanging light eyebrows. His eyes are gray and piercing yet soft and his whole face expresses great sensitiveness. He is exquisitely neat also though careless and his hands are small not without delicacy. He is a small man but his mass of hair seems the one rugged looking thing about him. I thought in the play last night that it was a wig.

To return to our lunch table. He proceeded to speak of his Autobiography which he intends to write as fully and sincerely as possible to leave behind him. His wife laughingly said, she should look it over and leave out objectionable passages. “No he said very earnestly almost sternly, you are not to edit it—it is to appear as it is written with the whole tale told as truly as I can tell it. I shall take out passages from it and publish as I go along, in the Atlantic and elsewhere but I shall not limit myself as to space and at whatever ever [sic] age I am writing about even if I am an infant and an idea comes to me about myself when I am forty I shall put that in. Every man feels that his experience is unlike that of anybody else and therefore he should write it down—he finds also that everybody else has thought and felt on some points precisely as he has done, and therefore he should write it down.” The talk naturally branched to education and thence to the country. He has lost all faith in our government. This wicked ungodly suffrage he said where the vote of a man who knew nothing was as good as the vote of a man of education and industry: this endeavor to equalize what God had made unequal was a wrong and a shame. He only hoped to live long enough to see such wrong and such a government overthrown. Last summer he wrote an article for the Atlantic, printed without any signature, proposing the only solution of such evil of which he could conceive. It is too late now, he continued, to restrict the suffrage, we must increase it—for this let us give every university man let us say ten votes and every man with common school education 2 votes, and a man of superior power and position a hundred votes if we choose. This is the only way I see to get out of the false position into which we have fallen—

Here we were interrupted very pleasantly by the entrance of Mrs Colt the richest woman I believe in Hartford. She has built a memorial church of great beauty here—she is a fine looking woman, cordial and appreciative. The social club allows five or six ladies every evening and Mrs Colt is one of them usually.

Went to lie down and read Appleton’s Nile journal. At five, the hour appointed for dinner, I returned to the drawing-room where our host lay at full length on the floor with his head on cushions in the bay-window, reading and taking what he called “delicious comfort”. Mrs Perkins came in to dinner and we had a cosy good time.

Mr. Clemmens described the preaching of a western clergyman, a great favorite, with the smallest possible allowance of idea to the largest possible amount of words. It was so truthfully and vividly portrayed that we all concluded, perhaps, since the man was in such earnest, he moved his audience more than if he had troubled them with too many ideas. This truthfulness of Mr. Clemmens which will hardly allow him to portray anything in a way to make out a case by exaggerating or distorting a truth, is a wondrous and noble quality. This makes art and makes life and will continue to make him a daily increasing power among us.

He is so unhappy and discontented with our government that he says he is not conscious of the least emotion of patriotism in himself. He is overwhelmed with shame and confusion and wishes he were not an American. He thinks seriously of going to England to live for a while at least and I think it not unlikely he may discover away from home a love of his country which is still waiting to be unfolded. I believe hope must dawn for us, that so much earnest endeavor of our statesmen and patriots cannot come to naught, and perhaps the very idea he has dropped, never believing that it can bring forth fruit will be adopted in the end for our salvation. Certainly women’s suffrage and such a change as he proposes should be tried since we cannot keep the untenable ground of the present.

Mrs Perkins described to us a party of Judeans who came to return one of the many yearly visits her husband had made into the wilds of Maine. Her dismay when they appeared and their visit for the whole summer on their lawn was worth hearing.

It is most curious and interesting to watch this growing man of forty—to see how he studies and how high his aims are. His conversation is always earnest and careful though full of fun. He is just now pondering much upon actors and their ways. Raymond who is doing the “Gilded Age” is so hopelessly given “to saving at the Spigot and losing at the Bung Hole” that he is evidently not over satisfied, nor does he count the acting everything it might be evidently.

We sat talking, chiefly we women after dinner and looking at the sunset. Mr. Clemmens lay down with a book and “J” went to look over his lecture. I did not go to lecture but after all were gone I scribbled away at these pages and nearly finished Mr. Appleton’s Nile journal. They returned rather late, it was after ten, bearing a box of delicious strawberries, Mrs Colt’s gift from her endless greenhouses. They were a sensation, the whole of summer was foreshadowed by their scarlet globes.

Some beer was brought for Mr. Clemmens, (who drinks nothing else and as he eats but little this seems to answer the double end of nourishment and soothing for the nerves) and he began again to talk. He said it was astonishing what subjects were missed by the Poet Laureate. He thought the finest incident of the Crimean War had been entirely overlooked. That was the going down at sea of the man of war Berkel[e]y Castle. The ship, with a whole regiment one of the finest of the English army on board, struck a rock near the Bosphorus. There was no help—the bottom was out and the boats would only hold the crew & the other helpless ones, there was no chance for the soldiers. The Colonel summoned them on deck; he told them the duty of soldiers was to die, they could do their duty as bravely there as if they were on the battle field. He bade them shoulder arms and prepare for action. The drums beat, flags were flying, the service playing, as they all went down—to silent death in the great deep. Afterward Mr. Clemens described to us the reappearance before his congregation of an old clergyman who had been incapacitated for work during 12 years—coming suddenly into the pulpit just as the first him [sic] was ended. The younger pastor proposed they should sing the old man’s favorite Coronation omitting the first verse. He heard nothing of the omission but beginning at the first verse he sang in a cracked treble the remaining stanza after all the people were still—there was a mingling of the comic & pathetic in this incident which makes it consonant with the genius of our host.

Our dear little hostess complained of want of air and I saw she was very tired—so we all went to bed about eleven.


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