Commentary

Disciples


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Saturday, July 27, 1889

     8 P.M. W. in bathroom when I came. Sat in the parlor with Ed till W. came down, which he did shortly. Ed explained that W. had another of his attacks of indigestion—had not had a passage for 4 or 5 days; but would not take medicine, arguing it did more harm than good—afflicted his head. W. himself was

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not confident in treating of his health. Did not get out today—partly because of the cloudiness but mainly because of his weak condition. "Nothing further from Doctor," he said, "and little other news, in fact. Buckwalter was in to see me today. The purpose of his visit being, to press me to make that visit to Gutekunst. He was very urgent—insisted, almost—said he would see to having me taken there and brought back, which is very important, as I know and you know: a fellow with such locomotive inability as mine has to be well attended to. Much of my reason for going would be, the weather, my condition, the case of transportation—this probably best secured through Geiss, the old hackman there at the ferry, who knows how to handle me—has handled me often—and well. But then after all that is considered, the previous question arises—why go at all? What's the good of it? It would be quite a serious job—and haven't I had enough pictures— more than enough—taken? And many of 'em good ones, too?" This reminded him of a package he had there on the table for me marked in blue pencil "Passage to India and three pictures W W"—which he picked up and handed to me. "Here is your book,—your 'Passage to India'—and three pictures—you can send them all to Bush— or any of them."

     I had an inquiring postal from Clifford today about the big book—some one up there at Farmington desired a copy. I spoke of it to W., who replied: "And that makes me think—I ought to send something to Clifford himself: he sent me the Amiel book to read—I ought to show a sense of the obligation." And so he was very specific in getting C.'s address, whether to write it simply J. H. Clifford, or spell out the "John" or precede all by Reverend, which of course I advised against. He added: "I thought to send him it and have him read—the Mazzini book—you know the book I have there? It is, in my eyes, a valuable volume—peculiarly valuable, unique,—I might almost call it sweet—for two at least of its essays—essays on Byron and Goethe: Oh! they have an exquisite

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subtlety. I knew these essays as many as forty—at least 30—years ago—and through all these years, as then, they have attracted, held, fascinated, absorbed me. Mazzini could write a good English, too—so I am told—though writing mainly in Italian and having it rendered into English. His personality was a rarely beautiful one—grand—unusual, and Clifford could not miss him."
Would simply addressing at Farmington do? "I shall send it—or let you send it—just as comes up as most convenient and easy—fits in with my mood." "Was Clifford there for a long stay?" he asked again. And then of the nature of the country, etc. And when I got up to go after a while he again said, "We;ll send the book—either you or I."

     I sent him the Bellamy book by Ed last evening. He now said of it: "I have looked at it: it is a curious and interesting—I was going to say, perplexing—volume, but knowing so little of it yet, I ought not to say anything about it." I repeated to him a "personal" from the last number of Current Literature: "Walt Whitman says that the greatest pleasure of his old age has been in reperusing the novels of Charles Dickens." He looked at me in amused astonishment: "Does he? That's news to me! I was a reader of Dickens from the first—liked his books—Nicholas Nickleby, Oliver Twist, others: but a dweller-upon, an enthuser, a make-mucher of, I never was—never—am not today. And you know, today I don't read him at all! But that is the interviewer through and through—the paragrapher: delegated to fill a certain space, he sits down in the Moncure Conwayish manner, decides upon what would interest the public, and so puts that down as history. But history! Pscha! I think of what old Doctor Johnson once wisely said—I think it was him: the Doctor thinking that a fellow can well measure out how much credit he is bound to give history by remembering how many lies are told of him, and go on record as facts. I know there are interviewer exceptions—that often there's a framework legitimate enough for the story—making it probable, anyhow, that what is related

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is true. But generally, the capacity of an interviewer for not getting the facts of the case into his narrative is extraordinary—surpasses all belief."

     Debate on royal grants in Parliament yesterday resulted in support of the crown by a vote of 398 to 116. W. had "followed the debate with a great interest" and now said to me about it— "It struck me not as victory but defeat for the crown. I was reminded of a story—a saying—I think drawn out during our Revolutionary War—that a few more victories like that for the enemy will make us great guns. And so the Queen's enemies will be great guns if these signs continue. There seem to be several reports about her—one that she is a hunks—a hoarder, miser, getting a sovereign and taking good care to keep it; then others say this is not true—that she is just the opposite. But I incline to believe the first story nearer the truth." As to the Prince of Wales— "He is pictured as a jolly, affable sort of a dog—a bon vivant—though with how much justice I could not tell. This has raised what I suppose is a great question to Englishmen, these children of the children—this third generation!" I am to leave for him in the morning the proof-sheets of speeches of Gilder, Hawthorne, Bonsall, Garland, Eyre, and he will examine, suggest, and return to my house by Ed, if I do not get back from the country in time to see him (I am going to Mrs. Fels' at Logan). I must return to Myrick on Monday.


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