Commentary

Disciples


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Tuesday, October 9th, 1888.

     8 p.m. W. reading the Mrs. Carlyle letters. Held the book sort of in the air as he read. Eyes wide open. Hat on. Entire attitude one of great interest. Light burned brightly. Saw

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me—laid the book down: "Howdy? Howdy?" extending his right hand. They had cleared the room up a bit today. Complains some of his eyes. Fire burns in his room. Very hot but calls the room "just about comfortable." Likes to keep the stove door open—to feed the fire from time to time. Still hates to be helped. "I'd rather die helping myself then live being helped." Brings back the long nights of last winter: the little stove, the one now displaced, never able to heat the room: he sitting here, a pad on his knee, writing, sometimes—sometimes a book: and then our talks—the sweet cherished talks on all subjects under the sun. Now he sits on the same spot a different figure: less virile, subdued: waiting in his own way for "an inevitable release." This creature of out-doors, this open-air god as I once called him to his own great amusement, now sits in a closed room, sensitive to drafts, feeling warm on cold days and cold on hot days. The contrast hit me hard to-night when he said: "Ah! Horace—is it hot here? and is it not cool out of doors?" and then further: "Clear, did you say? and do the stars shine? And the moon? is it half a moon? Oh! it must be one of God's perfect nights!" ending the matter with a deep sigh.

     W. is passing through another period of depression—expresses no hope of getting round again. Yet he talks freely and with power. He laughs about that. "I am getting to be a sort of monologuer: it is a disease that grows on a man who has no legs to walk on." Seeing him reading the Carlyle to-night I asked: "Is it possible?" He answered: "Yes indeed: as Burns says somewhere of the birds, 'they flit from place to place,' &c: which is just my case for reading—getting anywhere, everywhere, something to feed the mood of the moment. Mrs. Carlyle? Don't be too hard on her, Tom. And then you know, Emerson cutely says somewhere: if there's something, some hard thing, which you absolutely don't want to do, absolutely hate to do, go do that thing, do it thoroughly, do it at once. I don't suppose it would work well to apply such a principle to reading, and yet I do so on occasions—often read books that do not particularly

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interest me because of an end beyond the book that I have in view: on that principle I am reading Mrs. Carlyle's letters."

     McKay over today. Paid W. one hundred dollars on royalties. Had with him a copy of N.B. in stiff covers. W. assented to the change. "Dave was only here a little while: everything was satisfactorily arranged." I asked: "You didn't sign any of the sheets today?" W. said at once: "Didn't I? I did indeed—full a hundred—yes, and did them up in twenty-fives." Clifford proposes to review N.B. for some paper. W. said: "Let them fire away. But I'm more anxious to get the book to the people." "Sure—but the one helps the other." He admitted that: "Sometimes I'm as blind as two bats." Gave him a postal I had from Kennedy today. Read it aloud, slowly, clearly. "That all sounds genuine—very Kennedy-like: chatty, newsy"—and when I said: "Of course—he is always genuine," W. fervently added his assent. I pointed out the frontispiece portrait of Emma Lazarus in the Century. "A beautiful face," he said: "and a beautiful engraving, too. Who is this T. Johnson who does the engraving? He's a hummer! we ought to know who he is. A man who does work like that is our man—belongs to our church, is an initiate in our school. T. Johnson! We must ask Gilder why we don't know T. Johnson." Had not met Emma Lazarus. "I know little about her or her work: but her face is an argument. I must ask Alma Johnston about her: she knows most every woman in New York who does public things. By the way, the Johnstons were here the other day—did I tell you? No? Well—I shouldn't have missed that: I was glad to see them. Johnston is very bright—very American."

     Osler has been appointed to a professorship at Johns Hopkins. W. said: "That seems like his size: Doctor Burke says he has A one credit everywhere in the profession." Had he noticed Lounger paragraph in last Critic correcting Herald misstatements? "Yes, yes—I read it: but I did not know—or forgot if I did know—that the Herald man spoke of Stedman in that way." The Lounger put it thus: "Again it is suggested that some day Mr. Stedman may atone for the injustice he has done

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the old poet. It is needless to say that he has long been a warm personal friend of Whitman's and a great admirer of his work."
W. said on this point: "It is of course not true—there were other things in that article not true: Stedman has always been affectionate, honest, loyal. Stedman wrote that piece for The Century: it was not satisfactory to my friends, but was in fair spirit, and was the truth as Stedman saw the truth, which is all anybody could ask. Stedman has especially of recent years been eager to do me any service in his power. That Herald man seems to be capable of doing a lot of damage when he gets started. I am glad The Critic saw fit to make a counter statement."

     When he found to-night that Oldach will charge us twelve instead of ten cents for the covers he said: "That looks like a gouge. I am done with him." I laughed. He asked: "What the devil's the matter now?" I only laughed again. "Oh! you think I'll get over my kink about Oldach. Well—maybe!" He wonders if the engraving people are "going to fool us, too, with extra charges." Has an economical streak today. I do not take it seriously. Told him: "You will recover: you're never mean for long at a time." Even the insurance man came in for a kick. He thought the premiums should go for more time. I was irritated and cried: "Keep your darned money until you can give it out without a growl." Then he straightened up, was himself again, and said: "Well—have it your own way: you usually do: I'll be a pauper yet." "Better be a pauper than a miser." He was all right by this time. "Amen! Amen!" Every now and then I have to fight him in the same way in one of his moods of unreasonable economy. W. called me "an impertinent hussy" in one of our encounters to-night. Advised me: "Don't let the process people dicker with the portrait: they're liable to try to fix it up if you don't cry hands off. Such people never can be made to do an informal thing without a fight. They are not willing to let nature alone—they want to assist her: they want to give a man curls when his hair is straight or make it straight when his hair curls—always working by contraries. Look what Herbert did with my face when he got it over in

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London: look how he dressed me up—put the barber at work on my hair—put it up in curl-papers and flung me abroad in the exhibitions as a social luminary. I should think they would like a man to come in his own dress and with his own manners not as remade by tailors and turned into a grimacing monkey repeating the platitudes of the parlors."
Then he added: "Herbert knows how to paint but he has not learned that other important thing, how not to paint." As I left W. gave me an old letter from Cyril Flower and his own draft of a delayed reply.


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