Vassar College Digital Library
Fri, 11/11/2022 - 16:02
Edited Text
By Julian, January 10.
January 11th Three years ago this day Father was buried. How the thought comes to me here in my solitude.
Today Wife and Julian leave me to board in Poughkeepsie. It may be the end of our housekeeping; it certainly is as the old terms. I had rather live alone in the house, with my dogs, than amid such turmoil as we have had. Now maybe I can read and think.
17 A high-hole today. Snow very deep with a hard crust. Snow and rain last night.
24 Heavy rain; snow half gone, a regular January thaw. Alone the the house now for nearly two weeks. The dogs and I live on excellent
terms. Writing and reading most of the time. The great ice houses here burned up on Friday night, a sublime, but a saddening spectacle.
Feb. 6 Still alone in the house. Spent several days last week and week before in N.Y. A very stormy winter; two fair days and then two stormy days -- rain, snow, hail -- with great regularity. Cold too, a cold stormy winter so far.
9 The books that come to me from their withers, why do I look upon them with an eye inclined to be cold and indifferent? and let them lie so long untried upon my table? It is because I did
not seek them, and a book unsought is generally a book unwelcome. We do not expect the men we most value and long to see to hunt us up; those who do so generally turn out the be of little moment to us. Moral- never send your book to a man whose good opinion of it you solicit. Let him find it out for himself. I shall act upon this in future. I have sent my books to many people from whom no response has ever come [crossed out: back]. I flatter myself that they never looked into them, and looked upon them as intruders.
13 Sunday. A cold sharp day of dazzling brightness and whiteness. Only small patches of bare ground here tanned there. Sat in my Study and tried to read and write. No success. A sad day from some cause; an unusual melancholy oppresses me. Why I know not. The ice men clearing their canal and getting ready for to-morrow.
17 The white of the paper upon which one writes plays just as important a part in the expression of this meaning as the ink with which he writes
19 Much lightning, thunder and rain last night. Such thumps must break old Winter up. We shall see.
23 Very bright; on the new fall of snow last night. A turtle dove to-day, but silent. Blue-birds several days ago, male and female here and looking into the woodpecker's hole. 25 One of those clear, sharp, strangely bright days out of which come snow storms. That light around the northern
horizon is the light of the forge of the Snow Queen. 26 A steady heavy snow all day, the boss storm of the season, 8 or 9 inches of snow. Spent in P. with Wife.
On the whole a very stormy winter. A snow storm regularly every second or third day, twenty-five of twenty-six storms so far; never remember to have seen it keep [crossed out: up] on storming so regularly. No very deep snows, but very frequent ones.
March 1st Clear, but with more snow in the air yet. Start for Washington tonight. Crossed the river with horse and sleigh.
2 Woke up in Washington this morning, in the midst of spring sights and sounds. A soft mild bright Washington day, grass greening, sparrows signing. What delight to walk again about the beautiful
and familiar city where I spent 10 years at the most impressionable period of my life. Aaron and his family well. 3d Still mild and spring like, and [crossed out: still] again I wander in a pleasant kind of dream about the streets. 4 Snow and rain and chill. 6th Snow still on the ground, but melting fast. Dined to day with Hugh McCulloch. The old man not quite [crossed out:
to] so well and brisk as when I last saw him. Old age is really upon him, and the end of life's journey not far off. A large,
noble, an d lovable man; no public man to whom I feel so drawn.
8 A perfect spring day of the kind I used to know so well; clear, soft, still, warm, March in her best mood. Johnson and I go to Piney Branch and Rock Creek late in afternoon. How the old scenes touch my heart! The voice of the little brook fills all the valley with its soft gurgle and murmur. We look for hepaticas, and after we had given up finding any, lo! a single flower upon the dry leaves. How touching and beautiful! J plucks it to send to his dear wife in Paris. If he could have plucked the scene, too, and sent that in a poem!
9 Leave W. today at 11 am for Phila. Find Walt about 5 pm. He is sitting in a chair with a long gray bearded goat, or other, skin behind him, a shawl pinned about him, and a chaos of papers, letters, Mss, books, etc., at his feet, and reaching far out in the room. Never saw such confusion and litter; bundles of letters, bundles of newspapers, slips, cuttings, magazines, a cushion or two, foot rests, books open and turned downward, dust, etc. etc., and above all the serene and grand face of the old poet. He is or seems more alert and vivacious than when I saw him in May, inquires anxiously about Wm O'Conner etc; has a little too much blood I think and tell him so. Walks out to supper without help, and tells the story of the old woman who, when commiserated for her blindness says, "But I have so many things to be thankful for!" We have much talk and it does me good to be with him again. He talks affectionately about Beecher, just dead, and says many things in his praise. The word "miscellaneous" he says, describes him. He and Beecher met a few years ago on the Camden ferry. Beecher was very cordial to him and pressed him to visit him in Brooklyn. We sit by the firelight till 9 pm, when I go back to Phila.
10th and 11th in N.Y. and home at night. Enormous flocks of starlings and blackbirds in N.J. on their way north.
13th Bright and warm. Bees out of the hive, crows cawing far and near; blue-birds and nuthatches uttering their delightful spring calls. Snow still deep and ice on river unbroken. Very glad to be back again in the quiet of my own solitary way of life.
The first robin to-day. How delightful his salute sounded.
14 Warm and soft, a good sap day. How sweet and touching the little sparrow sang, a clear strong beautiful sparrow song. Tapped two trees and made the first golden maple syrup. A walk up the RR track; skunk cabbage in bloom, saw robins and turtle doves. Julian walked up from Highland to see me, roads very bad with mud and snow.
15 Beecher died on the 7th or 8th while I was in Washington. A man of the times, large, coarse, multitudinous, like the earth in spring when all the streams run full; a man for the multitude, copious, eloquent, versatile, touching our common American humanity at more points, perhaps, than any other preacher of his time. He gave forth no divine light and no divine warmth, [crossed out: but] yet he aroused and warmed and swayed the multitude. He was peculiarly American in his freedom, his audacity, his breadth, and in his secularization of the pulpit. The great source of his popularity was that after all he represented us so well, represented our better tendencies and possibilities. He was alive and showed no tendency to become a fossil. Expansive, copious, quick witted every leading and formative idea of the times found lodgment and reinforcement in his mind. He was as the sea, and could, on occasion, exhibit the might and vehemence of the great natural forces.
18 Mild, with flutes of sap snow. Julian still with me. Together we try to solve chess problems. The first red shouldered starling this morning as I went over to the P.O. His oka-lee was very suggestive.
If we had never seen or known fire how impossible or inconceivable it would be to us. So utterly unlike anything [crossed out: we] else within the whole range of our experience. We could form no conception of it at all -- a mysterious power, or giant slumbering everywhere. and capable almost of devouring the world. Motion or force we know, but how impossible that somethings so unique force, can be evolved or evoked from it! How we should scout the idea of it were it not actually demonstrable! "Latent heat", the philosophers a few years ago called it; now we know that latent heat is transformed force. When we kindle a fire we set a certain chemical process going, a process by which stored up force is again transformed into heat. There is no fire till first there is life or organic growth; and yet there can be no growth or life till first there is heat -- the great solar or cosmic heat. Hence is not every fire we [crossed out: ???] evoke a fragment of that primordial heat which once [crossed out: made] held the earth and all the worlds as vapor? This heat is stored up on every hand, and we summon it forth for our own purposes. No wonder the early races were fire worshippers. Heat or fire is about the most obvious God we can discover today. These thoughts came to me as Julian and I were boiling sap yesterday, out by the spring.
March 21 One of those bright still March mornings that may be looked for about this time. All the early birds -- blue.birds, song sparrows, robins, chickadees, nuthatches -- jubilant, Each uttering its peculiar spring note. Two flocks of blackbirds, mostly starlings, go by near my Study; [crossed out: I can] the soft rustle of their wings like a breeze [crossed out: in] suddenly striking a leafy tree, first attracts my attention. How swiftly and directly they go as if to keep an appointment and not a moment to spare. Ten days ago I saw great clouds of them tarrying in N.J. The air has great power of transmitting sounds this morning; as I go over over to the P.O. I distinctly hear the train on the Wallkill valley R.R. 8 or 10 miles away. It bodes rain. Sap starts briskly and it promises to be a [crossed out: rain] day to make the maples thrill.
The first little piping frog yesterday (Sunday) afternoon over back of the hill. The marshes [crossed out: and] still covered with ice and snow, the woods full of snow, and only bare spots here and there in the fields. The little frogs were on a bare spot in the edge of the woods. I am convinced that the little frogs do not pass the winder in the swamps but in the ground in bushy fields and in the edges of the woods near swamps. As soon as the ice is gone they make for the swamps to breed and sing.
22 A terrific snow storm, a pouring shower of snow, full six inches in 3 hours in the morning of heavy wet snow. It came down in loose balls as large as chestnuts. Then it went more regularly to work and snowed nearly all day; about 8 inches of wet snow on the ground at night. A regular March storm out of the north.
Yesterday saw a large loose flock of crow blackbirds flying over very high, uttering their squeaking, jangling, musical notes. Presently some of them began to drop down toward the trees in the Gordon garden.
Then the whole flock after hesitating and wavering a little began to pitch down and it rained blackbirds about that garden for a moment or two, at a great rate.
23 Mrs. B. and Julian came back home today -- Mrs. B. gone since January 10th. Most of that time have I lived alone in the house. Glad to have wife back and hope things will go better in the future.
25 Weather keeps rather warm and thawing. River open to the elbow. Phoebe-bird this morning. Streams and springs have been very full all winter. Never saw them more so.
April 1st Overcast; cold north wind -- not a breath of south wind this winter. Sap ran a little yesterday, but too cold most of the time for sap. A very cold spring so far. Ice in the river afloat for several days, broken up by streamers.
Phoebe-bird several days ago. Meadow lark day before yesterday. Gloom and sadness in the house.
April 3d Sunday. A Sunday indeed. The fairest of the spring days so far, warm bright, delicious. A sit and pen this amid a hum of bees like June. How robin answered robin, and blue-bird called to bluebird, and sparrow challenged sparrow this morning. A phoebe-bird calling before I was up. My 50th birthday, had a century of life, and so little done!
A beautiful box of flowers last night from a class in Rhetoric at Fulton, N.Y. Have lost 20 pounds since my last birthday. Health good as usual; very few of my peculiar symptoms; a weak back lately, and creeping chills on the hip, that is all. Strength good, and but little lameness in my joints. Have slept well till since return of wife, since when I have lost much sleep again. No girl in the house and wife in bad humor; even the dogs are cautious about coming in.
4 A touch of almost summer warmth at last -- 66 degrees -- in the coolest spot. The bees carry in their first pollen I can imagine the feast they have inside there; new bread is the cry and how eagerly they all take bait. The snow is
vanishing like a dream. How gradually but rapidly it fades away, like dew. The greenest grass is the last uncovered by the snow. Lingering patches of snow like your hand, is what remains of large banks of three days ago. So delicate the first snow; so coarse and harsh is this, as if it became grow by tarrying [???] earth. When the snow leaves it looks as if spring and not winter had been tarrying. The first butterfly on Sunday.
There have been three types of civilization; the ancient or classical civilization, the ecclesiastical or church civilization and the modern industrial, democratic, or scientific civilization. How are these three related? What do we owe to each? In what was each superior? To answer these questions well [???] is no easy task.
6 Bright and sharp. Julian and I go out to the old home to make sugar. Reach Roxbury at 11 am; walk up the hill, both of us companying of headache. On top of the hill wind sharp and piercing; makes J. cry with cold. I help him along and carry the bags. As we come in sight of the sugar bush I strain my eyes to see smoke or steam at the "boiling-place"
but see none. No sap has been gathered yet. Hiram comes out to greet me as father used to do. After dinner a head ache keeps me in doors all the afternoon. I sit in mother's chair in the sitting room.
7 Still sharp and cold, but clear. Sap runs but little. J. an I build a fire in the arch to thaw out the ice and snow, and cut and hack out of the woods dry trees and branches.
8 Still bright and a little warmer. Indeed a day of phenomenal brightness and clearness. I walk down to Abigail's old place
over the snow-banks, with long long thoughts. Here I find Angie, Jane's girl, with her baby; she and John beginning life and playing the old game over again, with doubtless the same feeling we all know so well. A bright baby, and Angie a pleasing young mother, with sister Jane's hair and complexion.
I walk back and cross the hill; shore larks here and there; the ground bare on the top of the hill; so still a lighted candle might be carried; the day dazzlingly bright. Only twice during the day was there the least film in the sky, a slight penciling or chalk mark in the south and East upon the blue ceiling.
On the hill saw a swallow, can hardly believe my eyes, but sure enough, it is a swallow coursing about for insects, which it must find very scarce. Probably the white-bellied swallow; never saw one so early.
In the afternoon we gather some sap, two [???] and I start the pans boiling about 4 pm., eager to see the work begin. As I am at work putting in the wood Abe Meeker comes up and greets me, an old friend of the families; worked for Father in 1840 and has visited the house yearly ever since. He is near 70 years old, but keeps his courage up well. He is a leaf out of the past and I am glad to peruse him again here by the old arch where he helped father make sugar when I was but 3 years old.
Julian has caught a could in his head, has [crossed out: soar] sore throat and keeps me awake this night for several hours.
9 Another bright day getting much warmer. Boil sap on a jump all day. J. builds a pond near by. Snow banks running fast. Reduce 150 pails of sap to 5 by 6 o'clock.
10 Very warm and bright. Too warm for sap to run much. Boil till noon, water, water everywhere and all good to drink. In afternoon walk across the hills to Curtis's place, the old Follet farm. Meet C. and Abe Meeker in his sugar bush. Delightfully warm and still. The old bird voices fill the air. Curtis seems in much better heart since he has got this farm, and a better show for a living. We loiter about for several hours, then I return again across the hills by the old Sylvester Preston place. It is doubtful if Abe Meeker and I ever meet again. I could see by many remarks of his, that he felt he was nearing the end of life. As we left Curt's sap bush, he said, "it is not likely that we three will ever meet here again." As I came away I remarked that the sun was going down. Yes, said he, and we are going down, too. He spoke of the old people who had died as having gone home. Abe is a bachelor; not a profound or a serious man; a light, quiet, rather genial, canny man who banters you to trade knives.
11 Boil sap all day, 200 pails, warm and partly over cast. Roaring brooks from the snow banks
course down through the woods and fields. Get my glut of sap boiling to-day. Do not get it reduced to syrup till 8 pm. So dark we leave the syrup in the woods.
12 Cooler today and over cast. A week of dazzlingly bright days are at an end. A change is at hand.
Go down to the village with Hiram and he gives me a mortgage on his farm for the 1100 I have signed with him (Paid 600). The looking over the old deeds calls up such thoughts of the past and of father and mother! How my heart yearns for them 13 Back home to-day. Mrs. B. in bad humor as usual and rakes me down.
14 Go to N.Y. to see Walt and be the lecture. I the Century office ran upon Lowell and Charles Elliot Norton. Johnson introduces me to Lowell. L. greets me heartily and says [crossed out: I] "You once said I did not know the difference between a dandelion and the buttercup, but as I was looking down upon them when I wrote the poem (Al Fresco) it did not disturb me." "Oh, I said, I know you do know the difference, Mr. Lowell," and turn it off with a laugh. L. is a pretty strong looking man, more than a mere scholar; a man of affairs, and of the world, and able to hold his own in places that test mans mettle. Of his kind he easily ranks first of the New England writers. He said he once advertised me in a speech he made in England at some dinner, or occasion, I forget what, and that many people afterward asked him about me. Of course I thanked him. Norton I was next presented to and found him a very sweet gentle nature, a man to make fast friends with and to love, I should say. He spoke warmly of the pleasure my books had given him etc.
Something in his manner of talking reminded me constantly of an English woman I know (Mrs. Smallwood) We met again at the lecture and I sat in a box with him and Lowell.
Found Walt at the Westminster hotel, fresh and rosy and sweet as ever. The lecture went off finely. A distinguished audience and much sympathy with him and appreciation of him.
At the reception in the evening saw many new people. Walt looked grand and distinguished as he sat in his chair and received the callers. His is easily the grandest face and form in America. He stood it well; the little
excitement was just what he needed, a wholesome human breeze that quickened his circulation and made his face brighten.
At 12 pm John Fiske and some one else came in and began to discuss the immortality of the soul. Walt said he would have given anything to have away got to his room and to bed, and as some one else caught on to the discussion, he did so. In the morning at 8 I found him dressed and resting from his bath, and as fresh as a pink. At 10 he went to the photographers with Jennie Gilder and then to the studio of Miss Wheeler for a sitting. Think Miss W. will make a strong
picture of him. I left him at 2 1/2 pm, on his way to the ferry, brighter and stronger then I had ever expected again to see him.
Home to-night.
Sunday, A bright, rather sharp day. J and I walk to the woods, find arbutus showing the pink.
A driving snow storm all day; a foot of snow on the ground at night.
Bright; looks like mid-winter.
Snow still covers the ground.
Warmer. Snow nearly gone. In my walk up the RR track this afternoon found five species of wild flowers in bloom, where the snow must have been lying yesterday, namely arbutus, hepatica, dicentra, saxifrage and blood root. The place was warm and sheltered. Some of the dicentra had evidently been nipped by the frost.
22 The loveliest of April mornings -- clear, soft, still and vocal with bird notes. First swallow twittering above the barn as I stepped out doors at 6. The swallow twittering above the barn as I stepped out doors at 6. The swallow is always on hand by this date and seldom earlier than the 20th. Vegetation is much more irregular [crossed out: than] in its unfolding than are the birds in their arriving. I have had asparagus at tis date, but it is at least a week later this season.
The song of the purple finch and of the russet sparrow the most noticeable this morning. The call of the high-hole has also been a marked feature in vocal nature these several days.
24 A rare April day. Julian and I take a long walk to the woods for wintergreen berries and other less tangible things. Seem to have seen the real beauty of the adders tongue for the first time. As we stood there beyond the bridge talking with Sherwood, discovered two by the road side, just opened. The sunshine was falling full upon them, and with their recurved petals or perianth, and long purple anthers, they looked so brisk, fresh, lively, delicate, that [crossed out: ??? I] they gave me an impression I had never before had. They were not drooping, but looking the sun fairly in the face, and apparently laughing all over. Then a little later we discovered one that had come up protected by a large lichen covered stone. The flower with its fresh canary-yellow and new spotted leaves was set squarely against the face of the stone, and we paused and admired it and commented upon it. Under some hemlocks where the old snow banks yet lingered, the adders tongues were piecing the leaves like awls. They did not raise the leaves, but pushed up through them, making a smooth round hole.
25 April is doing her best now, clear, warm, wooing days, that affect one like music.
Since last July I have written the following papers:
A Taste of Kentucky Blue Grass,
In Mammoth Cave
Science and Theology,
The Modern Skeptic,
The Natural and the Supernatural,
Mere Egotism,
Spring Jottings,
Observations of Nature (two last in The Chautauquan),
Early Spring Sounds,
The Ethics of War,
A Hint from Franklin,
Reason and Predisposition, besides other short papers, snot yet ready for printing, yes, and a short paper on Beecher, for the memorial vol.
May 1 Sunday. A warm, clear, delicious day, a breath out of the South at last -- not a wind so much as an influence -- a breath. Julian and I walk to the woods and sit a long time by the falls, very full and beautiful just now. Arbutus very scarce this season, the vines barren. This is not the arbutus year, though I never knew it to fail before. The grass very green now; before there is any greenness on the trees how pleasing is the green sunlit landscape shining through brown branches or framed in gray bowls, or rocks.
In the morning J. tells me of a horrid dream he had last night, said he was so glad when he woke up and found it was only a dream -- He said a black spot came upon his hand and the longer he looked at it the worse it looked. It was blacker than anything could be; the ray of it came through the arm. He said he thought it was the light of Hell" A very vivid conception.
Today J. said, Isn't it curious that the Chinese were [crossed out: ???] about the first nation that knew any thing, and now they are about the last nation that don't know anything."
Subject for an Essay -- "The Return to Nature." The arbitrary ways of the ancients -- building cities out of hand, not a growth, but built by power. Their mythology and artificial views. The violence to nature by Christianity, witchcraft, etc. Shakespeare plays sound very artificial. The return to Nature among the moderns, cities grow, natural tendencies are followed etc. Return to nature in art, literature, and religion, etc., etc., and medicine.
2d A warm, soft, sunshiny day, pretty hot. The influence from the South still prevails. Maple buds unpacking their fringe. What a stir in all the farm homesteads this morning throughout the land. It fills me with sadness and longing to think of it. The ten thousand plows that are started, the picking up and putting things in shape, the scattering of the manure etc. The first oats are being sowed, the farmer strides across the furrows scattering the grain, while the first brown thrasher calls and warbles i the near tree. Sixty years ago my father was sowing his first oats on his farm they had just purchased. Think how busy and active he and mother were in those days there upon the farm they had just purcha[crossed out:c]sed. Think of all their struggles there, their economies, their simple fare, their small earnings, their anxieties, and their happiness, tho' they may have known it not. Ah, me, my heart is ready to burst when I think of t all, and they now so still in their graves. Whether the oats are sowed or not or the corn ground got ready, or the butter made, they heed it not.
We, J and I go to the woods with a lot of P. [Poughkeepsie] schoolgirls for arbutus, and other flowers.
3d The cat-bird and oriole here this morning, taking up the strain where they dropped i last summer. Still soft and
Mrs. B. absent to Eden's since last Saturday.
The kingbird, and wood thrush and many warblers in the afternoon.
4 The perfection of early May weather; how green the fields, how happy the birds; how placid the river; how busy the bees, how soft the air -- that kind of weather in which there seems to be
dew in the air all day - the day a kind of prolonged morning -- so fresh, so wooing, so caressing. The baby leaves on the apple trees have doubled in size since last night.
11 May warm and wooing so far. Pear trees in bloom and appeals showing the color, and some in full bloom. All the fruit trees touched with a mist of green. How tender and suggestive they look. Inside the house, storm and uproar, as usual. Just now the leaves and branches of the young hickories are being born. They come into the world like young birds or young puppies. The great hickory buds grow and swell and color up till they are often two inches long when the fleshy sheath parts and the young branch, leaves and and all emerge[crossed out: s]. The leaves are folded up and pressed together like hands in prayer. The great flesh colored membranous scales or wraps, how curious they look. They turn back and surround the tender branch like a purple or crimson ruffle, and then after a few days, drop off and perish. I do not know of any other tree whose branches [crossed out: come into the world] spring from the parent bud so fully developed.
How many [crossed out: people] persons there are, even cultured and thoughtful [crossed out: people] persons who believe in the literal truth of the Bible story of the Flood and Noah and his ark etc. That God became so disgusted with the race of man the he determined t drown them out as we do vermin, or superfluous kittens and puppies, saving only enough for seed. It is easy enough to believe in all these things if we once start with a certain conception of God in our minds. If we set out with the theory that this universe is governed by a great man-like being who works and feels and fails etc. as man does, and who manipulates Nature etc., as a man manipulates and runs a machine, all these curious notions come natural and easy. Once accept the popular notion of God as the great Santa Claus and we can even bear him when he comes down the chimney. The belief in miracles, in the fall of Adam, and in the flood, etc all hinge[crossed out: s] upon the notion that God is a man, and man of gigantic powers, but still a man, a sovereign King and Ruler.
24 A remarkably hot and dry May. No rain at all, and thermometer from 80 to 86 since the 10th. Grass suffering much. Went up Snyder Hollow, wife
Julian and I on the 18th; stayed two days, Trout scarce, 28 in all, but had a fairly good time. Stopped at Lords. No thoughts these days and but little reading. Life thin and unprofitable.
May 29 A slight rain yesterday and slow drizzle to-day, but not enough to stop the [crossed out: beek] bees working, yet doing much good. As dry a May as I ever saw. Reading Tom Jones, and the current papers and magazines with thoughts toward Colorado first of July.
June 1 11 am A fine rain at last from the N.E. began in the night and has kept it up nearly ever since. Never was rain more needed.
Finished Tom Jones this morning. Wife upbraids me for reading the book; can't see how a book with so much foulness in it can give me any pleasure. "What help can it be to you?" she asks. Such a mind as hers can never understand the disinterested point of view. Hers is the personal point of view in all things. Tom Jones is a great literary masterpiece.
Why Cardinal Newman cannot see God in the world (see his Pro Vita Sua) is because he is looking for a man-like being. He is completely dominated by the old theological notion that God is a man, a very great one, it is true, but still a man a great Pope or ecclesiastical Father, and of such a being, it is true the world gives no hint. We are to remember of God, that his ways are not as our ways or his thought as our thoughts. "Art thou a man" says Job, that we should come together in judgement". No, thou art not a man, thou art the All. When Newman looks into his conscience then he think he sees God; these human traits and ideals and aspiration which he sees there, he calls, God. Who is it, or what is it, then, which we see in Nature and this world?
June 8 Julian and I go down to West Point and spend the day. Met young Ed Denton, a school boy of mine 24 years ago, and spend most of the day with him. A fine, hearty man, and a capital botanist. The mock battle of the cadets takes
J. much and tickles me too.
Mrs. B. still in the dismal dumps. No thoughts these days and no zest for life; seems as if[crossed out: I was] my intellectual life never was at so low an ebb, no interest in anything.
Cherries getting ripe but no strawberries yet. Rye in bloom, grapes just blooming. Pretty warm and rain needed.
Went up and hived a swarm of bees for Dick Martin.
16 Warm and dry. A visit from Mr. Denton of West Point, a former pupil of mine, a fine man. Spent the day in the woods. The showy cypripedium in bloom. A great treat to Denton who is a fine botanist and a genuine lover of plants and of the wild. A visit from such a man, serious, earnest, and genuine does me good. He gives me a watch in his enthusiasm over the flowers there in the swamp and I give him a set of my books. In the afternoon I take him another way, and we find the whorled pogonia, another new orchid to him, but blossoms fallen.
18 Hot and dry. Plenty of fine strawberries. God in most of our hay this week. Days without thought or observation.
19 A delightful shower; oh so delicious. Such a rain at such time seems to bathe ones very soul.
23d Rain, rain; too much, ushered in by a cracking thunder shower early Tuesday morning. The sky has all turned to cloud and moisture, a steady pour for the past 12 hours. Well, nearly full.