Jervis McEntee Diaries

Tuesday May 14, 1872

Jervis McEntee Diary Entry, May 14, 1872, from the Jervis McEntee papers, 1850-1905, in the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution

Tuesday, May 14, 1872 - Buchanan Read died at the Astor House on Saturday. He had just arrived from Europe and was taken ill with pleuro pneumonia on board the vessel when only a short time out and the papers say suffered greatly. There was a long obituary notice in the Tribune yesterday written in a very kindly spirit in which he was spoken of as having come home to recuperate from the exhausting pursuit of his profession and dwelling upon his social qualities at some length. He and Mozier were leaders in the American society in Rome and now that they are both gone undoubtedly their loss will be very sensibly felt there. I did not know Read very intimately. I counted much on his friendship and society when I went to Rome, but his first call upon us at our hotel surprised and saddened me. Church and his wife happened to be calling on us and they were equally shocked for he was so intoxicated as to be very silly and Gifford got him up to his room where he remained, with his man Antonio waiting in the office for him until the clerk sent up word that he wanted to shut up the house for the night. His habits were very bad the winter we were in Rome, and I understood that he was involved in all sorts of financial difficulties. I know while we were there that Mr. Jessup of Philadelphia helped him to some money under promise of a reformation. When I heard he was so ill with pneumonia in New York I made up my mind he would die for my experience proved to me that one needs all the force of a good constitution and a temperate mode of life to recover from a severe attack of this disease. The impression that I got of Read that winter was that he was a man of considerable pretense, and vanity accompanied by a kind amiable heart. He was fond of showing the extent of his apartments as he did once to Gifford from the piazza, adding, "There's nothing slovenly about that is there?" Some very ordinary carved furniture in his studio he showed with great pride, adding, "There's a history attached to each piece." He gave large entertainments when I knew he could ill afford them and his poor little wife betrayed her anxiety about him constantly in spite of herself. I am glad to know his wife was with him during his illness. His remains were taken to Germantown near Philadelphia for internment today, and Mr. Childs and Bayard Taylor are to assist. Poor man! he is another example of a career cut short by imprudence. I have no doubt had he been a temperate man he would still be living. Miss Penfields a very pretty girl, a friend of Miss Lamont took tea here last evening. She is soon to be married to a young clergyman and they are to go to Chicago or near there. I do not know when I have met so bright and pretty a woman. I finished painting the fence today. Gertrude had a letter from Oscar Sawyer last evening written on the cars on his way from Salt Lake City. He saw Lucy & Andrews in Salt Lake and is coming up here this week to tell us about them. Downing returned this evening.

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