Commentary

Disciples


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Saturday, September 7, 1889

     7.38 P.M. W. in his usual place in parlor. Had been out. Felt "right well today." Said: "I read the autobiographic note over today. Was there any particular passage in it—or word—which you thought wrong—to be patched?" I asked if he was annoyed by the great noise of the cars. "No," he said, "there's nothing in the world a man easier gets used to than just such a noise." There was a parrot in the room—on the machine—and on the wall a bird cage. W. laughed when I commented. "Yes," he assented, "we need but a snake—then our menagerie will be complete." Laughed on hearing that his portrait was used on a cigar label. "Who knows but by and by we'll give a name to some new brand pop-corn or the like? I remember what fun we had a long time ago over the Jenny Lind pop-corn." As we talked a man passed the window—a child with him—seemed to hesitate—then came back. W. had regarded him carefully. Finally reached his hand out. "Ah! Tillman—it's you, is it? And this is the boy? It has been a long

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time since I saw you—oh! years! And the boy!—how grown! He was s a little fellow then. Come up here, boy—let me see you—shake hands with you"
—as he did—the boy coming up over the cellar-door—W. reached out, kissed him. "Oh! you dear little boy!" and as the boy was sliding away: "See here, little boy—tell your mother Walt Whitman sends her his love." And to Tillman himself: "And you, Tillman—take my love to the ferry boys—tell them I hope to see them before long. I have not so far been on the boats—but my time is near—my time is near!"

     Liberty at last turned up today and contained the O'Connor article. W. quickly said to me after I came: "I got Liberty—I have read the article: and I like it very much—it is strong and fine. Now how about copies? Shall I write for them or will you? I want several—one for Bucke—one for Charles Eldridge—others." And then added: "I think I had better give you Mrs. O'Connor's letter to read—the letter that came in the other day." I found on reading that it had a reference to me which he did not wish to repeat. I read him a letter received from Morse today (dated the 3d). W. greatly interested—at many points solicited re-reading—particularly where Morse speaks of his wanderings among the poor of the city. "Fine—fine!—Good!" "I have read the Sarrazin piece again today—the whole of it at once reading—and it impresses me more than ever. It seems, the first part is better rendered than the last—the last sounds a little as if done in haste, without the necessary care." "But," he added slowly, "after all, what seems want of care may come from the literalness of the translation—and for the literalness I am responsible—for I sent him word, the more literal the better." Then he asked: "I wonder if in the French they have an equivalent for our word 'children'? Morris translates a word, infants—evidently an inclusive term. I should not wonder but infants in the French covers all that we mean by the word children, and more. After all,—deducting for all charges against its music, what-not—I should not wonder but the English tongue is the richest in

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possibilities of expression—potential for the most varied combination, beauties, wonders, of speech!"

     Spoke of Harrison as "a great phu-phu! A thin enough sample of a thin enough type!" As to the Log Cabin speech it was "a lost opportunity" but "no more lost than all of Harrison's opportunities." Referring to Gilchrist's "Cleopatra" W. remarked: "I wonder if he lets anybody see it? I suppose not. I am anxious to have Herbert all right. It seems to have a tide character, water character—current character—seems to be a-float, to depict a large expanse of water." As to his succeeding better with that than with the portrait of W., W. remarked: "I hope he will—think he will: it is more in the line of his abilities, tastes, training." Asked me if there would be advertisements in the book. He had thought "It might be a good thing" to advertise "all the Whitman books there together." Clifford preaching tomorrow, for the first time. W. said: "Give him my love." A young Unitarian minister from Cambridge preaches in Camden tomorrow. Dines with Harned. When H. proposed to bring him in, W. said: "Yes bring him along—we want to question him!" Returning to matters of translation, we discussed literalness and freedom. I contedned—in repeating a man's spoken words, we should try to give his manner too—the manner being essential—and so in translating.


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