Mandeville and I were talking of the unknown people, one rainy night by the fire, while the Mistress was fitfully and interjectionally playing with the piano-keys in an improvising mood. Mandeville has a good deal of sentiment about him, and without any effort talks so beautifully sometimes that I constantly regret I cannot report his language. He has, besides, that sympathy of presence—I believe it is called magnetism by those who regard the brain as only a sort of galvanic battery—which makes it a greater pleasure to see him think, if I may say so, than to hear some people talk.
It makes one homesick in this world to think that there are so many rare people he can never know; and so many excellent people that scarcely any one will know, in fact. One discovers a friend by chance, and cannot but feel regret that twenty or thirty years of life maybe have been spent without the least knowledge of him. When he is once known, through him opening is made into another little world, into a circle of culture and loving hearts and enthusiasm in a dozen congenial pursuits, and prejudices perhaps. How instantly and easily the bachelor doubles his world when he marries, and enters into the unknown fellowship of the to him continually increasing company which is known in popular language as “all his wife’s relations.”
Near at hand daily, no doubt, are those worth knowing intimately, if one had the time and the opportunity. And when one travels he sees what a vast material there is for society and friendship, of which he can never avail himself. Car-load after car-load of summer travel goes by one at any railway-station, out of which he is sure he could choose a score of life-long friends, if the conductor would introduce him. There are faces of refinement, of quick wit, of sympathetic kindness,—interesting people, traveled people, entertaining people, —as you would say in Boston, “nice people you would admire to know,” whom you constantly meet and pass without a sign of recognition, many of whom are no doubt your long-lost brothers and sisters. You can see that they also have their worlds and their interests, and they probably know a great many “nice” people. The matter of personal liking and attachment is a good deal due to the mere fortune of association. More fast friendships and pleasant acquaintanceships are formed on the Atlantic steamships between those who would have been only indifferent acquaintances elsewhere, than one would think possible on a voyage which naturally makes one as selfish as he is indifferent to his personal appearance. The Atlantic is the only power on earth I know that can make a woman indifferent to her personal appearance.