Sunny Memories of Foreign Lands,1854
At last I have come into dreamland—into the lotus eater’s paradise, into the land where it is always afternoon. I am released from care; I am unknown, unknowing; I live in a house whose arrangements seem to me strange, old, and dreamy. In the heart of a great city I am as still as if in a convent; in the burning heats of summer our rooms are shadowy and cool as a cave. My time is all my own. I may at will lie on a sofa and dreamily watch the play of the leaves and flowers in the little garden into which my room opens; or I may go into the parlor adjoining, whence I hear the quick voices of my beautiful and vivacious young friends. You ought to see these girls. Emma might look like a Madonna, were it not for her wicked wit; and as to Anna and Lizzie, as they glance by me, now and then, I seem to think them a kind of sprite, or elf, made to inhabit shady old houses, just as twinkling harebells grow in old castles; and then the gracious mamma, who speaks French, or English, like a stream of silver—is she not, after all, the fairest of any of them? And there is Caroline, piquant, racy, full of conversation—sharp as a quartz crystal: how I like to hear her talk! These people know Paris, as we say in America, “like a book.” They have studied it aesthetically, historically, socially. They have studied French people and French literature—and studied it with enthusiasm, as people ever should, who would truly understand. They are all kindness to me. Whenever I wish to see anything, I have only to speak—or to know, I have only to ask.