Commentary

Disciples


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Saturday, June 30, 1888.

      [See indexical note p400.5] To W.'s 7.30. Harned there. W. had gone behind a bit today. "From the medical point of view they tell me I'm getting on all right, but from the point of view of my own comfort I'm in a pretty boggy condition indeed. But so the doctor feels all right about it I don't suppose it mat-

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ters what I feel. I like to see the doctors comfortable, anyway."
 [See indexical note p401.1] Harned just back from New York. W. quizzed him. Said Tom: "I met Brick Pomeroy in New York." "The mischief you did! What's Brick doing now? It is remarkable how many of us live on and on long after we are dead."

     The boys on the street annoy W. with their firecrackers but he will not have them disturbed. [See indexical note p401.2] "There's a certain allowance of deviltry in all boys. The boys out in this street probably know there is a sore, nervous old man up in this room, so they fling their malignant rattle-snake poison about with special vehemence. Boys could not get along without that. But let them go on—don't interfere with them. It would worry me more to have that done than to bear with the noise." Harned put it: "You talk in a familiar way about the devil, Walt, but you don't believe in him even a little bit." [See indexical note p401.3] W. laughed heartily: "You're right, Tom—not even a little bit—not even the littlest bit: I ought to send my apologies out to the boys."

     Seemed feeble. Talked with Harned about politics—only briefly. "My head is no good tonight. Last night I felt extra strong." Had not read much proof today. [See indexical note p401.4] "I'll have to trust myself to your diplomacy with Ferguson again: these delays are tantalizing." No visitors, he said— "and only two letters—both requests for autographs—so you see I sort of drew a blank today. One of the autograph fellows intimated that I might die soon, which made his request a very urgent one. [See indexical note p401.5] I was so tickled with the cheek and honesty of the fellow that I signed and sent him the card." "You ought to die, also, at once, in order to please him." W. laughed quietly: "That's so," he said, "bring me some poison." Harned withdrew. W. said: "When Tom came in he was grumpy enough to hit me. [See indexical note p401.6] I found myself dodging him. He softened down in a few minutes: then you arrived. Tom seems to put on a mask of crossness in order to hide the fact that he is kind."


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     We discussed the book some. W. in no shape to be worried. Had not alluded to the will. W. had tied up some letters in a string. [See indexical note p402.1] Handed them to me. "Sit down and read them." "What are they?" "A few tid-bits for your treasure box," he said, with about half a smile. "A couple of letters from John—a letter from Sidney Morse: John's letters are old—Sidney's came only a week or more ago. Burroughs takes exception to O'Connor's vehemence—he often does it: it seems to be too strong for John's nerves: but what's the use of kicking? [See indexical note p402.2] It is very like making a fuss because the wind blows too hard—because the waters raise the devil when the storm comes in. Well, there's a law for noise as well as for quiet. John has been to Concord—takes a kind of shine to Edward Emerson. To me Edward is by no means the son of his father: he is of a far less capacious mold. [See indexical note p402.3] You'll find in one of John's letters that he talks to me like a Dutch uncle about my health. I really believe John thinks I am mostly or mainly the cause of my own ill health. Who knows? I don't claim to be innocent. In Sidney's letter is some very cute talk about his intuitions: Sidney is very knowing at that sort of thing: I shouldn't wonder but he's nearer the truth than not. I was messing through some old things a bit today between my trips from the bed to the chair and back again—these turned up—I put them aside for you. [See indexical note p402.4] That Schmidt document ought to be of special interest to you: I was giving Schmidt some pointers about myself—my life, purposes, etcetera: a bit of this and that jotted down, not at random, exactly, but with no attempt to shape anything to formal expression. Morse includes some shrewd political touches in his note—you will highly appreciate them: you and Sidney are companion souls in radicalism. [See indexical note p402.5] John is always calm—I think his calm helps me: I find myself comforted in his good will. I suppose it would help both if William would exchange some of his surplus stir for some of John's

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surplus calm."
I read one of the Burroughs letters and then left. [See indexical note p403.1] W. wearied. Referring to my precious burden in the string W. said in a little twinkle of merriment: "You don't go home starved tonight, do you?" And finally with his good night cried after me the admonition to "keep on the good side of Ferguson" till he could get back at his work again. Also said: "Write to any of the boys you may think want to hear from or about me. Tell them I cannot write myself—describe my situation: tell them how helpless I am. I need your co-operation in such matters." This is the Burroughs letter I read:


Esopus, N.Y., Aug. 17, '83.

Dear Walt:

 [See indexical note p403.2] Drop me a line where and how you are and what your plans are for the fall.

We are just back from Roxbury where we went in July. We are all pretty well. I rec'd Dr. Bucke's book and thank you for it. I had already purchased and read it. I cannot say that I care much for what Dr. Bucke has to say; he gives me no new hint or idea. Wm. O'Connor's letter is a treat, with a little too much seasoning. [See indexical note p403.3] If Wm. would only practise a little more self-denial, he would be much more effective. He could write so that his critics could not laugh at him. The review of the book in the Tribune was by a woman—a Miss H—(I forget her name)—regularly employed upon the paper. The latter part of June Gilder and I went to Concord and spent a couple of days there. Called on Mrs. Emerson, liked her much, supped and breakfasted with Sanborn and had a pleasant time. [See indexical note p403.4] Young Dr. Emerson seems a worthy son of his father. I liked him much.

If we ever get another girl in this house and the kitchen machinery running smoothly again, I shall come for you and take no denial. I think it would lengthen my days to see you once more.

With love

John Burroughs.



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