[Manchester—Thursday, 6 July 1876]

Thursday. A fierce rushing wind—no rain but a wind that seemed to tear everything up by the roots. I dared not venture out in the morning. To our surprise and delight Mr. Longfellow came to dine. He was pleased to find Anna here and fell to talking of Heidelberg in German with her and quoting the poets most delightfully. We sat in the front hall and rejoiced over his presence as he talked for he was in a fine talking mood. He told us of the Emperors visit and of his courtly though most simple bearing, how he came to call upon him after his dinner and when as he rose to go Longfellow said “Your majesty, I thank you for the honor you have done me.” He said—“Ah! no, Longfellow, none of your nonsense, let us be friends together. I hope you will write to me. I will write you first and you must promise to answer.” As they walked down the garden path together Longfellow raised his hat and stepped one side as he were [sic] about to get into his carriage—“No, sir, he said laughingly, there you are at it again.” In short he has left a pleasant memory behind. Longfellow told us his maids broke everything he possessed, at last they had broken a very beautiful Japanese vase or bowl wh. Charley brought home—so he had made a Latin epitaph for the maid—unhappily I recall only the last line—

Quod non tetigit quid non fregit

He described Blumenbach very amusingly whose lectures on Natural History he attended as a youth in Heidelberg. He descended from his desk one day and came and rested his hand on the rail just before wh. L. was seated. He had been speaking of Platonic Love “Und die Platonis[c]he Liebe is[t] nach Amerika gegangen” he said looking at Longfellow. The whole student audience roared and applauded.

He was in the loveliest spirits and manners His friendly ways to my three friendless girls were not only such as to excite them profoundly but there was sincere feeling in his invitation to them to call upon him and in his questions in their behalf.

The wind subsided as we sat together, the two young Bigelows sang “Maid of Athens” and one or two other songs and then he departed. How sorry we were as we watched his retreating figure as he and dear J. wound down the hill in the little phaeton.


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 5-18-2024.

Copyright © 2024 Wedgestone Press. All rights reserved.

Back To Top