Commentary

Disciples


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Thursday, August 29, 1889

     5.40 P.M. W. in his bed-room, looking very well and saying "I feel very well—well for me." No word, he said, from Gutekunst yet. I took him sample copies of medallion and 70th year pictures, which he enjoyed. "They satisfy me—came up well." Will get the whole body of copies tomorrow. Was he going to use the bust picture in this collection? "O yes! that is what I intend—and with just that inscription I put on your proof-copy" "I want 200 copies of that, too—you may order them any time." Did he intend putting any superscription on the other pictures? "I have not decided yet—perhaps—perhaps not—I should not wonder."

     He was greatly amused over some ignoramus' serious remark to me the other day— "So you know Walt Whitman? I heard so. They say he is a writer of dirty books? Is he? I shouldn't wonder but it was true." W. remarking— "The world at large might suppose I am sensitive—would not like to hear such stories—and sure enough there have been plenty such—about the books, about me personally. But there are three or four of my very most intimate friends—those nearest, best understanding me—who thoroughly realize that my disposition is to hear all—the worst word that is said—the ignorantest—whatever. That there's nothing, in fact, I should so regret as not to know how affairs are regarded. For I know—never hide from myself—how much is to be said on the other side—

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antagonistically—however cherished our own notions are."

     Was solicitous to know from me— "So the medallion picture still pleases you? You still like it as much as you did? I find myself that I like the bust picture better as I go along." Then he laughed and pointed to the cards near by which I had brought him. "Why in the world do the printers—like the tailors—always pursue their own way, regardless of what others want or of what is best? I can never get them to print my pictures as I want them—with an inclination towards the top of the page—certainly the way more striking to the eye. But a printer is much the same—always puts in his dashes, superfluities—which he thinks pretty or necessary"—then with a laugh— "which I as always strike out!" I read him a letter I received from Bush today. He thought it "admirably easy and direct." Bush may be on next month. Quite curiously asked me— "Well—does the book get along well? I guess it will be a success." I said, "Your two pages of it will be, anyhow." To which— "Ah! more than that—more than that, if anything—and something it must be!"


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