Commentary

Disciples


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Friday, May 24, 1889

     8 P.M. The day much warmer, W. sitting in his chair out of doors. Ed on the steps. Down the street the electric light

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gleaming strongly. W. referred to it. "Ah!" he said, "does it seem to you as if that light justified itself? It hardly throws as much here as I had expected of it. What is the reason?" And yet— "It is a beautiful, efficient light. Perhaps my objections are whimsical." I tried to prove him the strength of the light and he answered: "You no doubt see just what you say you see—but not seeing it myself, I cannot acquiesce." But of electric lights for principle— "I am heartily in favor. Undoubtedly, it is the light of lights. I should not feel disposed to object to it. I remember well when gas was first introduced: the dandies of the time protested that it was too strong a light—that it glared, hurt their eyes. But the dandies succumbed, as they always must." We discussed the dinner somewhat. W. asked: "Is Tom home? I have just sent up to him a man who wanted tickets—two of them: Ingham: you know him? the old man: he wants 'em for somebody else, I think." Harned had just been at my house, discussing affairs with me.

     I received today a note from Ingersoll, which I now read to W., who listened and was greatly pleased. "That sounds encouraging and warm. Herbert [Gilchrist] was in to see me today—stayed, I guess, fifteen or twenty minutes—gave me in outline, by hints, his speech, which I thoroughly endorsed and consented to. Herbert is going to speak of the English boys—for them—their good deeds for me—all that—and nothing could please me better. I want it always understood that I feel a never-ending gratefulness for those abroad who helped me, that time of my sorest need. It ought not to be forgotten that they upheld me bravely when I was most sadly pressed—sick, weak, poor, maligned, misunderstood. Then they came forward, took my book, took me—and saved me. I know there is a feeling in this country as though this had been accompanied with insult, ill-feeling; but that is a mistake—gravely a mistake. Gilder says or said—it 'galled' him. But why should it?—him or anyone? Taken rightly it seems to me it could be complimental—a tribute to the literary guild—a test of the great fellowship—a proof of it—of our world-union.

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I know they won't have it so, but we must not be too sure of the insult. Of course for me, from my person, the great moral, emotional, testimony the story bears is never to be slighted or in any way questioned."
Therefore, to have some word of it at the dinner was "eminently proper," and he was "glad Herbert" had "undertaken to say it." He was eager too, to have "the Colonel" come, though "even if he does not, we'll have a very good time anyhow." I proposed that he give copies of the Birthday Book to the main speakers, and he instantly took hold on the idea. "Yes—that would mean Clifford, Tom, Herbert, Frank Williams, perhaps the Colonel—who else?" He was not surprised that I had not yet heard from Stedman: "I do not think you will hear. I fear Stedman is angered—that he distrusts us—will stay quiet. I had a letter from Kennedy today in which he said that he had after all not forwarded that letter,—he said he thought it would make matters worse instead of better. I don't know what kink could suddenly have struck him—been revealed to him. As I recall the letter, it is entirely in the right vein. When Kennedy asked about it, I even parenthesised—told him I would not only consent but even advise that it be given to Stedman." He said at this point. "I had a proof-slip from Joe Gilder today of a little paragraph about the dinner which he is to print in the Critic. I should describe it as in style much like the O'Connor article—lamentably weak, almost puerile—fearful, timid, afraid to go on record decisively. Gilder is too much affected by the New York cabal—right in the hands of it. It is the last lingering malignancy, striving still to object, to make a fight; like Lee's troops—or Lee—keeping up the war—persisting in his forays, battles, raids—hating to give up to the last, but at last having to." I referred W. to a letter from William C. Gannett today. Writing from Hinsdale, Illinois on May 20th he says: "May he live as long as loving and being loved can make life beautiful to him! In Mr. Morse's studio I last week saw a noble picture of him with his arms around the children." W. was curious about his reference to the picture. "I wonder what

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original Sidney used for that, or was it a picture from memory? There was a New York picture which is suggested by that description. The New York photographer who took the whole dozen photos that time has a picture of me with some children. I was sitting one day—and Jennie Gilder came in. She had with her two children—beautiful children—her sister's, I think. For the sake of them I consented to have us done together. I have seen nothing of the picture from that day to this."

     A letter from Canada today, also. W. was much touched by it as I struggled through its reading there in the dark.


London—Ont— 22.May 1889

My dear Horace

I enclose the letter asked for and along with it $5. for a ticket—

The letter is addressed and the order made payable to T. B. H.

If there is anything more I can do let me know—I would give anything to be with you at the dinner but am too much of a slave at present—there may come a better time however—Have not heard from W. J. Gurd for two weeks. I suppose the gas meter is coming into being.

R. M. Bucke


      "How fine—how genuine that sounds! Almost as if the man himself were here talking!" W. suddenly said: "Isn't it wonderful, Horace, how the best of us like to be flattered? I am quite surprised at myself more than often."

     He regretted the probable absence of women from the banquet. "There is Mrs. Harned now—and you tell me she wants to go? It seems to me—now I face it in a serious way, as I should—that here it is in a nut-shell—here in the denial to include her. It is a real hardship—entirely out of place too, inconsistent with my best-held convictions, as expressed from the start, which would include women equally with men and on as satisfying terms. But then, what can I do? This is a case in which I can but submit." I had said to W. that the best way to have the question settled was for half a dozen men—by concerted understanding—to take their wives. W. thereupon:

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"That is a very good notion—indeed I am convinced that that would be the best way to go about it." He took the matter up thus very seriously.


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