Commentary

Disciples


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Tuesday, October 16, 1888.

     7:45 p. m. W. lying down, the first time since early summer at this hour. The light burned faintly on the table. There was an uncertain fire in the stove. Room very warm. W. not asleep. At once saluted me. Gave me his hand. "Move up a chair." I sat this way at the side of the bed during our whole talk. I asked: "Why are you on the bed? Are you sick?" "No—it has no such significance at all: it only means that it was my humor to lie down: that is the whole mystery." No sign of Linton cut yet. Is just a little impatient for it. He suggested: "It may be you had best write to Arthur Stedman stirring him up a bit." McKay today showed me M. P.'s Press review of N. B. W. asked: "Who is M. P.?" adding after my answer: "Well, I never met him myself. What is the value of the piece?" M. P. prints the concluding paragraph of the Hicks in full. W. said: "That seems to bear you out—they all seem to confirm you—to pounce upon that." I said further: "He seemed to know that the Hicks was at one time proposed for a magazine article. How did he know that?" "From Walsh: at least, I suppose that is the case. I hope Walsh won't feel sore to see it in the book: I intended it for him: if I hadn't got into trouble he would have had it: as it was I was glad to get it out in any shape." M.P. referred to it as "made up from notes." W. acquiesced. "Yes—that is about right: that's what I would say myself: happy me to have had that much to go by! I would hate to have Walsh feel that I had been guilty of a breach of faith: he will understand, I'm sure."

     I told Walt that William Lloyd Garrison was to speak in Philadelphia on the 31st. "What is he to talk about?" "The tariff." "Against the tariff of course?" "Of course!" "Good!

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good! just like his father. I never met the father—never spoke to him—yet saw him often in meetings: heard him. He was, yes, a good speaker: interesting: I might use that word 'effective'—an effective speaker: and earnest, too, naturally—dead in earnest: earnestness is the quality necessary first and last if you want to attract and move the people. Garrison always spoke like a man who had a story to tell and was determined to tell it: he never seemed to have any doubts about the splendor and efficacy of his doctrine. He was of the noblest race of revolutionaries—a man who could accept without desiring martyrdom: he always seemed to me to belong where he was—never seemed gratuitous: the splendid band of his companions never found their confidence in him misplaced. Like all men of the real sort he was modest, simple—never had to look beyond his natural self and employ the artificial weapons of rebellion. I rank Garrison way up: I don't know how high, but very high."
I said: "You never associated with that radical crowd." "No: but that wasn't because they were too radical: it was because they were not radical enough."

     Publishers' Weekly has borrowed our frontispiece cut of N. B. Dave says: "I'll bet you my cover won't cost more than a cent more than yours." In connection with Morse's Cleveland-Harrison quid W. says: "Sidney has a rich strain of genuine humor: it tells for much in an affair like that." W. complains of his eyes: "They don't seem to be satisfied with the light I provide for them." Thinks of having me get him a lamp to use instead of gas. W. pointed to a copy of the Boston Transcript on the floor: "There's something in it about Frank Sanborn. Frank says they can't discharge him! Yet he is discharged. There is a legal point involved—a conflict of authority." Havelock Ellis in the Preface to the Ibsen book says:

"It is only by the creation of great men and women, by the enlargement to the utmost of the reasonable freedom of the individual, that the realization of Democracy is possible. And herein, as in other fundamental matters, Ibsen is at one with the

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American, with whom he would appear at first sight to have little in common. 'Where the men and women think lightly of the laws; .....where the populace rise at once against the neverending audacity of elected persons; .....where outside authority enters always after the precedence of inside authority; where the citizen is always the head and ideal; where children are taught to be laws to themselves; .....there the great city stands!' exclaims Walt Whitman."


     I asked W. if he had seen that. "No—was it there? If I had known I surely should have hunted it up. I did not read the book. I looked into half a dozen pages of the preface and the beginning of each of the three plays, in no case finding myself interested, and so stopped. My impression of the work was that it was light: that may have come from the loss by translation, but I doubt it." Harrison Morris had telephoned me—could he see W. W. sometime, and report to him how the Century piece was received? I had been doubtful but promised to refer it to W., doing that this evening, W. thereupon saying: "You will have to excuse me to him: tell him I am sick—very sick. Somewhere there's a phrase—'dog with a sore head.' It is very apt: I am that dog: tell him so. He will understand: you will tell it to him kindly—for me, kindly"—then, after a pause: "If he has anything to say, why can't he say it to you? Tell him that, too." Still talks of the Bucke and Clifford pictures: "I am a little doubtful of my own pictures: after that picture of Clifford and now Bucke a fellow has got to be very careful what he accepts: he must not allow himself to be to easily satisfied." Told him I was going to have a Whitman gallery in one corner of my room. "Shall I help you out?" he asked. Then said: "You know the Cox portraits? Have you one of them? No? Well—they are not all of them satisfactory to me: I had eight or ten and kept only two. My own choice right through has been the one I call 'the laughing philosopher.' It was that I sent to Tennyson—and he liked it well, I have understood." After a bit he added: "If Tennyson

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happened in here some day—came unannounced—what a talk we would have! I suppose he would want to light his pipe: and though I have never smoked I would almost want to smoke with him to celebrate our meeting in fit style."

     W. referred to Bucke's objections to the changes in An Evening Lull: "I do not share his regret—I am confident the piece is right as it stands. Bucke and O'Connor—I don't know if Bucke as much as O'Connor—are most severe on that point: O'Connor especially. They have eyes as sharp as hawks: resent any change of text—even the slightest: contend that every change is harmful—has been and must be for the worse. They snap and snarl like mad dogs the instant I make the slightest revision." "My rule has been," W. continued, "so far as I could have any rule (I could have no cast-iron rule)—my rule has been, to write what I have to say the best way I can—then lay it aside—taking it up again after some time and reading it afresh—the mind new to it. If there's no jar in the new reading, well and good—that's sufficient for me." Then personally of Bucke and O'Connor: "Bucke accepts mainly through his sympathy—his emotion. O'Connor does all that and does more. For brilliant mental equipment O'Connor is the pride of the flock. He has an essentially honest mind: is possessed of the most severe literary integrity: his learning is vast: probably no man alive enters more thoroughly into the Elizabethan spirit—the literature, thought, life, of the age of Bacon, Shakespeare. William can see truth at a glance—can instantly probe to the heart of experience, fact. His sense of literary propriety is exquisite—yet remains conjoined with the most thorough-going individuality." He stopped and looked up at me with a smile. Took my hand. "That may seem extreme about William, but it's not so extreme as not to be all true. If you don't believe it say so and I will tell you the whole thing over tomorrow again, and next day—and next." Laughed quietly to himself. Suddenly lifted his head off the pillow: "That reminds me, Horace—I laid an old letter of William's out on the table for you over there." I started to get it: "Yes

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—on the other side—off towards the window: Is that it? Good! How does it start off?"
I took the letter from the envelope and read the first sentence. "That's the letter: take it along: it's a lively letter, Horace: full of sting and sweetness." Leaned over W. and kissed him goodnight. He said: "Kiss me again." Then said, not sorrowfully, only seriously: "Some night it will be a last kiss, Horace."


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