Friday, Dec 17th Had a north east storm and a very rough
night and I was quite sick got into Boston
about ten and went to the Marlboro Hotel
to breakfast sick and tired. Went out shopping
bought Delaine for a double gown & morning
dress Home in the stage at the usual time
This evening attended a lecture by Dr Holmes
on lectures & lecturing Mrs Ames here to tea
“[I]t snowd last [night] about 3 inches and there was some rain with it – and it raind most of the forenoon and in the after noon it was verry foggy + warm + the snow about all gone there was an inch of water in all – Oakes + his Wife got home + Mrs George Ames with them”* This is the only place in his entire decades-long journal that Old Oliver mentions his daughter-in-law and, per the custom of the day, he doesn’t even mention Evelina by name. The weather, however, he describes in detail.
Evelina describes a “very rough” trip from New York to Boston, one that made her ill. Yet she managed to recover after breakfast at the Marlboro Hotel. This trip is the only time in Evelina’s diary that she mentions dining in restaurants, first in New York and again in Boston. Dining out was not something that was done by women like her; restaurants generally catered to men, who could go out in public unaccompanied. But as Evelina was traveling with her husband, she was an acceptable customer. This exposure to aspects of the men’s normal world was a true adventure for her.
Not one to miss an opportunity to shop, Evelina bought some fabric in Boston before catching the stagecoach home. Back in North Easton, she seemed to settle back in quickly, perhaps unpacking and visiting around the immediate family, members of whom would have wanted to know about Oakes Angier’s departure. Almira Ames came for tea, and Evelina still had energy enough to attend an evening lecture in the village. The woman had stamina.
The lecturer that night was none other than Oliver Wendell Holmes, famous Boston physician, professor and poet – “a confirmed generalist” who “regarded his eclecticism as a mark of intellectual superiority.”** Besides lecturing on lectures, he also gave talks about medicine and poetry. They were generally interesting and well attended, as they must have been to pull a fatigued Evelina out to listen to him.***
*Oliver Ames, Journal, Stonehill College Archives, Arnold Tofias Collection
**Louis Menand, The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America, New York, 2001, p.58
***Information of Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809 – 1894) courtesy of Wikipedia; identity researched by reader Jessica Holland.
7 thoughts on “December 17, 1852”
Do we know anything about the lecturer, Dr. Holmes?
Dwight – I could’t find anything. A lecturer on lectures!
The lecturer is Oliver Wendell Holmes, author and father of the Supreme Court justice?
Lecturing on lecturing?
Well that’s a thought. Wouldn’t that have been a wonderful lecture to attend?
Yup, it was him. Wikipedia says “Holmes lectured extensively from 1851 to 1856 on subjects such as “Medical Science as It Is or Has Been”, “Lectures and Lecturing”, and “English Poets of the Nineteenth Century”. Traveling throughout New England, he received anywhere from $40 to $100 per lecture.” He was quite a popular figure, so maybe Evelina made an extra effort to get out that evening rather than miss seeing him. And maybe an appearance by a literary rock star helped distract from her parting from her son.
Lots of details on Holmes on Wikipedia, including a phot from 1853. I had forgotten that he singlehandedly set off the movement that saved the USS Constitution.
LOVE this! Thank you for sharing this with us.
I will edit the post accordingly.