[Boston—Friday, 1 June 1877]
June 1st Dear J. read at the Old South with Emerson, Holmes, J.F. Clarke, & E.H. Hale. He said O.W.H. was very amusing. He seemed to consider that the whole occasion revolved upon him, that he was the magnet. When the time came for him to read his poem he put it into J.’s hands saying, “now you be prompter, but don’t be too quick about it, wait till you see I can’t go any further”—then he marched up to the portrait of Dorothy “Q” and apostrophized it having made a bow to the same after which he requested the audience to sit silent for a few moments as if in church before he began his poem, as he always observed that the effect of poetry following prose at once is very bad!!! The people hardly knew whether to laugh or be reverent.
Mr. Emerson thought he had lost his book and just as “J.” was about helping him to find it he saw it in Mr. E’s left hand. He then found the page—but I can’t see it said Mr. E. Well, Sir, you haven’t your glasses on said J., yet after he was once started he read it with the wondrous fire which has stirred the people forever from his lips.