In the spring of 1857 I was in England. On the 23d of May, Lowell wrote to me,
“We are going to start a new magazine here in October ... The magazine is to be free without being fanatical, and we hope to unite in it all available talent of all modes of opinion. The magazine is to have opinions of its own and not be afraid to speak them. I think we shall be scholarly and gentlemanlike.”
The publishers, as I soon learned, wished to obtain contributions for the new magazine from writers in England; and as I was about to return to America in the summer, I was asked to bring home such manuscripts as might be sent to me by their writers, who should receive instructions to forward them to me. Accordingly when I left England in July, I had several manuscripts in my charge. No one of them, so far as I remember, was written by a writer of such distinction that his name is familiar to the present generation; but the work of an author not yet eminent and perhaps never to be so is generally as precious to him as to the writer in highest repute.
At the end of the voyage in New York I saw all my luggage safely on the pier, and delivered it over to the driver of the hotel wagon with directions to bring it to the hotel to which I was going for the night; and I was dismayed when, on the arrival of the wagon at the hotel, the trunk containing the precious manuscripts, and much else of value, did not appear with the other pieces. The driver admitted that he had seen it on the pier, and thinking that he had overlooked it, returned to seek for it, but it was not to de found. An active search was made that day and the next in other hotels, and in the offices of the express companies. Advertisements of the loss, with offers of reward for the return of the trunk, were put into the newspapers. Handbills of the same character were printed and sent to the police stations; but all to no avail. “The whole affair of the lost trunk,” wrote Lowell to me toward the end of August, “is as melancholy as it is mysterious.” But it had its compensations.