Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes never goes out now (he is in his 84th year,) but he came out this time-said he wanted to "have a time" once more with me.
Mrs. Fields said Aldrich begged to come and went away crying because she wouldn't let him. She allowed only her family (Sarah Orne Jewett and sister) to be present, because much company would overtax Dr. Holmes.
Well, he was just delightful! He did as brilliant and beautiful talking (and listening) as ever he did in his life, I guess. Fields and Jewett said he hadn't been in such splendid form in years. He had ordered his carriage for 9.
The coachman sent in for him at 9; but he said, "Oh, nonsense!--leave glories and grandeurs like these? Tell him to go away and come in an hour!"
At 10 he was called for again, and Mrs. Fields, getting uneasy, rose, but he wouldn't go--and so we rattled ahead the same as ever. Twice more Mrs. Fields rose, but he wouldn't go--and he didn't go till half past 10 --an unwarrantable dissipation for him in these days. He was prodigiously complimentary about some of my books, and is having Pudd'nhead read to him. I told him you and I used the Autocrat as a courting book and marked it all through, and that you keep it in the sacred green box with the love letters, and it pleased him.
Good-bye, my dear darling, it is 15 minutes to dinner and I'm not dressed yet. I have a reception to-night and will be out very late at that place and at Irving's Theatre where I have a complimentary box. I wish you were all here. SAML.
In the next letter we meet James J. Corbett--"Gentleman Jim," as he was sometimes called--the champion pugilist of that day.
The Howells incident so amusingly dramatized will perhaps be more appreciated if the reader remembers that Mark Twain himself had at intervals been a mind-healing enthusiast. Indeed, in spite of his strictures on Mrs. Eddy, his interest in the subject of mind-cure continued to the end of his life.