Commentary

Disciples


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 391] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Friday, July 26, 1889

     7.50 P.M. Rained slightly. W. at parlor window. Had not been out. Found his deafness no better—hears very defectively, now—having to ask so much repetition. Said of his condition: "Till this evening, my day has been very poor—a poor one indeed. Now I am better." Then— "And I have had little news today—a letter from Bucke—that is all. Doctor says little more than that he is just back from Sarnia, where he had gone to attend Pardee's funeral. Poor Pardee! His fever is done for at last!" I had found him the pens today. When I displayed the card, he exclaimed, as he put on the glasses— "Just the thing! It is a replica—it is a revival. What could better satisfy a man than to be satisfied?" Then he asked— "Where did you get them?" "At Murphy's." "Oh! I supposed as much. I wonder if that is the same old, old firm of great stationers?" As it was—and, "I wonder if the old Murphy's—the father's, grandfather's—sons, grandsons—

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 392] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
branched off to New York? It is an Irish family: I knew Murphys in New York 30 or 40 years ago—famous men in their line—stationers."
He was going to insist that I take pay for the pens. I said, "No—I will take a copy of the little green Passage to India instead for Mrs. Fels—I want a copy"—but he still insisted— "Well—take both—I want you to take both—this must have been an absolute outlay of 30 or 40 cents." But as I was stubborn too, he had to relax, promising to lay Mrs. Fels' book out for me tomorrow.

     Speaking of Emerson I said to W. that I was thinking out for myself a letter to write to Edward Emerson about that footnote. He still insisted that I would get no reply. I retorted— "I'll bet I can write a letter to which he will have to reply: I won't knock him down—I won't write in that mood: but he will have to answer me in some way." He laughed somewhat. "Well—I should not advise against you—it—I am always in favor of having a fellow do what he is strongly bent on doing—what comes to him as a duty; what he feels he must do, that by all odds he is bound to do—bound. That has been my course from the first—to write what I must write—not hesitatingly but decisively—and will be, I'm sure. But we have enemies and enemies. I find there are opponents of Leaves of Grass with reasons and without reasons: some without reasons who have not a leg to stand upon, men who, like a row of defective houses, no one of which could stand alone—any wind, any unusual disturbance would ruin them—but which, braced one by the other, very well hold their heads up. I am very much afraid Edward Emerson is one of such a dozen. The literary classes, so-called, are prone to be so—to be stiff, unyielding, to despise: many in Boston—certainly—mostly the whole gang in New York." I protested, "Philadelphia has no literary class, in fact, but Boker and Furness, its two real men, are friendly towards you—both of them." W. "That is so—I realize that, too—and it hits deep. I really consider them friendly—nobly generous."


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 393] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

     Remarked further along, "I have been reading Amiel again—that is, reading him in my way: taking him up casually—from time to time—his 'Journal Intime.' But I found no change from my first impression. It is very introspective—very full of sin—of looking sinwards—a depressing book, in fact." I asked: "Don't you think, then, it is a bad book for you to read?" "Yes—I do—it is depressing—it gives me no relief." I passed the conversation to another book: "My friend Johnston today came in and left me Bellamy's 'Looking Backward': how would it suit you to read that?" He lighted up instantly— "Excellently well—oh! excellently. I have been recommended by quite a dozen—and a dozen of the best fellows—my fellows, friends—to read it." We discussed social tendencies. I referred then to Nationalist Organ in Boston, W., after I had described its purport, saying: "Well—let 'em whack away—let 'em be heard—anarchist—socialist—what-not: the world has, therefore needs them all. And whatever, I am sure I shall like at least to look at that book, whenever you may bring it down." To Bush's so-frequent use of the "we"—including his wife in nearly all his good words for W., W. said tonight— "Good for him! And good for the wife: that is what it should be. I have often felt, my good luck with the women has been phenomenal!" Spoke of Heine: "Although by birth a German, he was to all intents and purpose, French—possessed of the French lightness of touch, yet not flippantly superficial either: he was rather a sampler of the true—the grander—French."


Comments?

Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Ed Folsom & Kenneth M. Price, editors.