Commentary

Disciples


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Thursday, August 1, 1889

     7.45 P. M. W. sitting at window, as usual—in parlor. Rain still prevailing—an unwonted session. W. laughingly asked me: "Are you going to bring us this kind of weather every night?" Of course had not been out today. I brought him 10 of the 20 copies of the morocco book without flap—opening package and displaying one to him in the half-darkness. He at once pounced on the pictures and the fact that Oldach had not strictly followed his directions,—given more margin at bottom than top— "An idea which I much fancy." Told me to take a copy, but promised to give me tomorrow, in exchange for it another, inscribed. I gave him Oldach's bills. He handed me an envelope containing $13.00 for Brown. "I forgot all about his name," he exclaimed, "my usual habit—nowadays!"

     Morris had brought me in the first part of Sarrazin's piece, fully translated. I gave to W., who was very particular to ask: "Do you think he finds it a good deal bigger job than he calculated for?" Should we ask him to continue?" Adding, however, that he "hoped not" and was "appetized now to see it all." I told him Morris had said Sarrazin understood W. W., though he was "extravagant" and "high-falutin." W. laughed: "Yes—I suppose he is high-falutin!—and so is God-Almighty! God Almighty is very high-falutin! All his ways, globes, habits—high-falutin! I suppose in all our millions of population—our 80 millions—teeming, spreading—there are not a dozen men—not a dozen, even—who realize—really realize,—realize in the sense of absolutely picturing, nearing, participating in it—vibrating, pulsing—that this earth we inhabit is whirling about in space at the rate of thousands of miles a minute—going on in a hell of a way: that his earth is but one of a cluster of earths—these clusters of clusters of

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clusters again—and all again, again, again, circulating, whirling about a central system, fact, principle—movement everywhere incessant immense, overwhelming. Now—I doubt if there are a dozen men who really sketch that to themselves—perceive, embrace, what it means—comprehend in the midst of what a high-falutin extravagant creation we live, exist. And yet things go on and on—keeping up their high-falutin course!"
He thought "the literary fellows, like Morris, Gilder, all look too much at conventional things—at the usual order; they lack and do not understand others, vigor—vigor. Yet there is a brave penetration about Sarrazin which beats anything heretofore—is better than Maurice Bucke's, better than John Burroughs', better than Wm. O'Connor's—the largest, most liberal investigation so far, particularly in what he says of evil—of evil, not for itself but as an essential of the orbic system—the cosmos. There has been no such word spoken elsewhere. No—it is not astonishing in Sarrazin as a Frenchman, for Sarrazin is not Continental Frenchman—continental this or that—but continental, elemental, having the intuitive, native, original cognitions. High-falutin, natural—he may have been. How Voltaire ridiculed Shakespeare as a barbarian. The story is told of him—it is not very nice—and I don't know if authentic—that someone protested—'but he is natural even if barbaric'—to which it is said Voltaire replied, slapping his back-side, so"—indicating— " 'So is this natural, but I don't make a display of it' This was the rock on which Stedman split once—long ago—but he has come out of that—come bravely. It is a point— a greatest point—I always declare for many of the fellows—or fellows like Stedman and Morris particularly—the power of getting on—of moving out—of overcoming themselves with themselves—it is the Emersonianism of it all—of our time: I sued to feel—feel now—that of all points in Emerson, that was finest by which he taught men how to escape Emersonianism itself: Emersonianism against Emersonianism. Emerson was cultured—generations of culture were

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in him—but he was more, too—he was a superb gift to our time—abundant in native powers."

     He said at one moment with respect to the book: "I think Tom is right—I don't think it ought to be dunghill, for everything to be dumped in it that happens to be laying around. That is what I thought in connection with the 'pudding-head' business: I know the expression was mine—that O'Connor uses it as mine, there in the letter—and though I should not for general reasons have objected to what I said of Ingersoll going into the book—there are particular reasons why it is best out—this for one of them." But as for those who had believed "he wanted to take the Colonel down," W. responded, "That is a great mistake: I aimed at nothing of the sort: I think too much of the Colonel for that. It probably is true that I was a great deal more vehement years ago than I am now—Oh! I know I was! In my old days I take on the usual privilege of years—to go slow, to be less vehement, to trust more to quiet, to composure."

     He had got a portrait from Garland today and spoke to me of it. "It is very good—it shows him up in good style." I said, "Garland is a good-looking man, but the handsomest of all your friends is Edward Carpenter." To which he fervently responded— "That he is! That he is! I have thought it myself!" He knew I was getting up the O'Connor article for Liberty and gave me "counsel" of things well to be said. When I said, "I have anticipated you in some of that—it is already said," he responded, "Good—good—emphasize the point that O'Connor was a scholar—every inch of him—but a scholar after his own kind—after the real kind: a hail fellow to the Elizabethan men, yet one in himself purely American, using his great accumulations for living purposes." At one moment he exclaimed, "There is the little speech of Eyre's—why, he takes the bull right by the horns: means democracy, says democracy—seems to take easy hold of what I hope is ever and ever the point of my teaching—if teaching there is—

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democracy, freedom, unity, universality, inclusion! I like that speech more and more, it is small, but it covers the whole ground."

     After going out, as I passed the window, W. leaned forward—called me— "Horace—I should like you to take Ed here, to the opera. It is to be my treat. I should like him to see 'Fra Diavolo' and 'The Bohemian Girl'—especially the latter—the latter first. I see Castle is there with that troupe—still singing, singing." Asked me if Castle was "any good" any more—and upon my negative, "Well I supposed not, as a singer—but 15 or 20 years ago, when he was in his prime he was prime indeed. They were his halcyon days—I saw him often. In the rollicky characters, his abandon was great—a thing to be studied and pleased with." So I promised to go with Ed and he was satisfied. Then a final "goodnight"!


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