Commentary

Disciples


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Saturday, May 11, 1889

     10.50 A.M. W. was not very well—certainly did not look very well—this morning. He said to me: "I had the chair taken downstairs." Then, looking out on the clouded sky: "I don't know whether we'll get out trial field trip today or not. I have just been taking a bath, and it has tired me out—tired me a good deal more than I could have expected." He said again: "There is no further word from Washington—but a letter here from Doctor: read it," handing it to me. Bucke spoke there of wishing W. could get the spring air. W. said to me: "I wrote him a day or two ago—'By the time you get this I shall probably be getting out in my chair'—to that effect anyhow." He had lain the two pictures out for Dave. "They are the ones your wanted?" Also reminded me—as I had asked him—of the big book for May, which he endorsed with May's name. I received from Oldach a design for stamps, which W. approved at once. It adheres to title page main lines. W. said: "I am quite curious to read Edward Emerson's book." "And to buy it," I put in. W. laughed: "Are you still determined to buy it—have it?" And when I said, "Yes—I must have it"—he pursued the matter: "Well, why not buy it today, then?" And I promised him I would. I spoke to W. of Dave's remarkable opinion—explaining how his edition of Emerson differs from others: that "Emerson went to Europe, saw Carlyle, got a small case of swelled head" and came home and revised his book to their misfortune. W. was serious over that: "Oh no—Dave—oh no Dave—it is not that: you have gone far wrong there if ever!"

     Asked me if I had mailed the paper to Burroughs. Then indicated the Post editorial and local items treating of the proposed celebration. "Take that along with you—if you don't mind, send it to Bucke when you are done with it." Curiously, another of Bucke's letters went astray before W. got it—this time to Red Bank. W. thought: "That is very remarkable.

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How could they make such a mistake? If ever the Doctor is guiltless, it is in addressing his letters."
Warren brought in a big bowl of ice cream, which W. took with a laugh. "It is a cartload, Warrie—a cartload." Then: "Give me the blue coat there"—it lay over the chair. "I was just going to ask Horace to help me on with it." And after it was on, as he sat heavily back on his chair: "Thank you boy—thank you boy!" Took up the ice cream and ate it eagerly. "This," he said to me, "is one of my weaknesses: a weakness of long standing."

     A reference back to my O'Connor article: "I intended writing something myself—not with any particular paper in view—only to relieve my fullness." And again: "The good Stedman—I never think of that scamp but to feel for him." As to the Herald: "The devil is in 'em—they must have something that will make a stir. Hartmann was evidently not discouraged because Kennedy would have nothing of him. The Herald must have paid him liberally." Remarked: "I see from my post at the window that it is so—that the bustle is being discarded. I for one do not regret it. It always seemed to me a hideous deformity."

     Evening. 7.45 W. had just been walking to the door to fix something in the hallway. "Come in! Come in!—and sit down!" he called to me. He took his own chair by the window. We talked for more than half an hour. W. seemed very bright. Said at once: "I have been out at last! The experiment has proved a success!" "I was out, I guess, more than an hour and a half. I sat half an hour in the front here, under the trees. We made quite an extensive detour, though we did not start out with that idea. I expected to go around the block, then stop. But when we got down the street, I had Ed go on, so that by going four or five blocks, we got to the river." But not the ferry? "Oh no! This was down—that way"—pointing to the southwest— "I would not have dared Federal Street, or the ferry, today. It would have been like rushing into the thick of the fight at once." How did he feel because of

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it? "Better—much better!" Not wearied? "No—quite the contrary—it exhilarated me." He was tremendously elevated. Talked for a long time of it. "I see it is a thing I must more and more encourage. I see I must get out all I can—day after day." He did not think he could have got out in this way last summer? "No—it would have been impossible—I have evoluted to this point quietly, naturally—by some unexpected good turn of fortune." And he added: "It was towards evening—I had already had my dinner. Oh! the day was grand! And cool, didn't you think? I mean pleasantly cool? I kept on the sunny side of the street, thinking to get as much sun as possible—certain it would do me good." "And the chair," he said in his fervent way, "it was a wonderful true support—a revelation of ease and comfort. It went along with perfect gentleness, and Ed said he could handle it without any trouble." On the table before him lay his hat, just as he had put it down when he came in. "Horace, boy!" he said again, "it was a great triumph, wasn't it? Who would have believed it of me last summer—that we would remain to conquer this? I consider it a victory—it would be a victory if I never got out again." And again: "We went quietly on our way—no one disturbed us—no questions were asked." And he thought the getting out "solved many questions." I did not ask, but wondered if he meant it solved the hospital question. For one thing, as he remarked himself, it made his attendance at the dinner more probable. He talked of the felicity of the experiment— "the green trees—to get out into the free air—to catch once more the sight of the river, the big city beyond, the boats on the stream." It has been a long time since I have realized such a quiet joy in him. "And we're going again and again," he said repeatedly, "and we'll send the good news to all our friends."

     W. asked me: "Horace, what about the O'Connor article—the one for the Critic?" And, when knowing I had sent it off: "I am glad—glad." I asked him about the idea of writing a

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page for the American dealing in a more strictly biographic way with O'Connor. He said: "That is an idea and a good one—making it biographical. But if you write remember the idea I started last evening—that William was a chosen knight—was selected of the select—as truly and grandly chivalric, in his own field of action, as any knight of feudalism, any lord or gentlemen of the past. And not only so, but more humanly chivalric than any—more democratic: a man profound and sweeping in his knowledge of the great literatures, especially of the Elizabethan, whose nobler fellows he in some respects resembled. Who like O'Connor ever knew Elizabethan literature to the heart. If you write, I should approve of your saying that—I should say it myself—of saying it for me."

     I asked him if he did not think it an idea to issue some circular in relation to the big book and for us to issue that and sell the books ourselves. He replied: "It is an idea and I shall act on it. By and by, when the pocket edition is out of the way, I shall get up a circular—a nice one." I put in: "And I'll send them out for you"—he affirming— "yes—I should have hoped that. It should certainly effect something." He did not think Dave was making exertion to sell the book. I took the pictures to McKay this afternoon. W. said: "Tom has not been here today, but came in last evening—weren't you here?—brought me the cognac." I took the design back to Oldach's today and advised that they proceed at once with models. Will let me know probable time required. W. said: "I hope Oldach will not delay us. But we know his terrible perversity and I am not altogether sure of him." May paid me for the book. I brought W. that money, with the Insurance renewal and change therefrom. I had left with him several Vereshtchagin pamphlets this morning—from Tom: a Catalogue, and two of V's essays on art. W. said of them now: "They were very satisfying to me—I read them with an intense interest. The catalogue especially—with the illustrations,

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was graphic and powerful."
He would greatly like to meet the man. "He seems like a handsome, forcible man."

     I brought W. the Edward Emerson book, which I had bought today. Stated to him the substance of the only reference to him in the book—this on p. 228: When Leaves of Grass appeared at a later period than that of which I speak, the healthy vigor and freedom of this work of a young mechanic seemed to promise so much that Mr. Emerson overlooked the occasional coarseness which offended him, and wrote a letter of commendation to the author, a sentence of which was, to his annoyance, printed in gold letters on the covers of the next edition. But the first work led him to expect better in future, and in this he was disappointed. He used to say, this "Catalogue-style of poetry is easy and leads nowhere," or words to that effect.



over which he reflected and finally said: "Well it makes no difference." "I shall," he then added, "take a great interest in the book. I am very glad you brought it down."

     McKay reports Hunter back in town. I spoke of Hunter's picture. W. thereupon: "He must make a great one—that piercing eye—the big fine head of him all through!" As I got up to leave, W.—asking me where I was going, added: "It seems to be a fine night—and cooler—much cooler—more gratifying." And out to the north the stars shone clearly. "You are off again across the water? My good wishes with you!"


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