Commentary

Disciples


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Tuesday, May 28, 1889

     7.45 P.M. Harned in to see me about the affair. Going afterward up to his house, we met Gilchrist—with whom we subsequently went to Walt's. Found W. just going indoors, feebly, helped by Harry and Mrs. Davis. "How old he looks!" remarked Gilchrist. W. very cordial for us all. I went right in and sat next him at his side. He took his own seat in the big chair at the window. He looked very well—talked, I thought, strongly. Said to me, the minute while we were alone: "I am all well but the head: that somehow won't become adjusted." Said he had "just come in"—in fact "am just back from a trip."

     Harned asked if he had not received foreign letters today. He said: "Yes, two." And upon H.'s further curiosity: "One of them was a request for an autograph" the other— "a genuine letter from Edward Carpenter." Tom inquired if it might be made available Friday. W. said: "No—I think not: it was a letter full of good feeling—containing a remembrance of my birthday, the 31st—a handsome remembrance, of money." And he added afterwards: "It was a letter that went straight to my heart," pausing and continuing waggishly— "you know the heart is often reached through the pocket!" Talked with Harned particularly about Carpenter, describing him. "Have you never seen him?" for Carpenter was "one of the finest samples of the young Englishman I have almost ever seen!" Asked Gilchrist if he had inserted Carpenter's name with the others in the speech they had already conferred about. Gilchrist

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objected that that would not be in keeping—that he named Tennyson, &c., as "big fellows" whereas Carpenter was "not a big fellow"—which W. recognized, only still persisting that "in the true sense Edward is one of the biggest fellows!" Gilchrist admitting— "He is to us but not to the world." W. further described Carpenter as a "socialist"—as "having money—making good use of it" and said— "I have one excellent, fine likeness of him which you ought to see."

     W. spoke to me of the pictures of his parents in the parlor. "Oh! this of my father is much the best. Did you know about Henry Inman? This was not by him, but by his son—a regular painter—who went to Rome, studied, was grounded in what they call the principles of art." For his mother's picture "no pretensions can be set up."

     We conferred with W. as to the wise hour for his coming on Friday. He thought about 6: "and I shall stay, say about fifteen or twenty minutes or half an hour." That fifteen or twenty minutes raised protest, to which he listened carefully but made no response. He was willing to say his "few words." I told him it was now quite certain that Gilder would come, to which: "I am glad—he is a very good fellow!" I had heart indirectly today that Stedman was off in New England. W. remarked: "That possibly accounts for his not answering you—we'll believe it does." I had quite a long and fine letter from Kennedy today, but with unfortunate controversial words about Christianity at one point. W. said: "You must exercise a wise discrimination: it is not necessary to use everything that is sent: it would be well not to adopt such an utterance for that place." I sent Whittier his two tickets today. W. asked: "And what of the books, Horace: are we to have them?" Talk various. Gilchrist had his toast ready—proposed reading it, and did so, before starting summoning Mrs. Davis. W.'s own window remained unclosed, but he rose in the midst of Gilchrist's reading to lower the sash. Gilchrist sat at the other side of the room—facing us all. Read deliberately and earnestly—W. a quiet listener, hearing every word. At the outset

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Gilchrist used the word "banquet," and paused to say that he hoped we would all call the affair a banquet instead of a dinner. W. laughed unrestrainedly, and by and by remarked: "I should call it 'hash': but go on, Herbert: I have no influence with this administration!" Adding after awhile that "anyone who knows anything about cookery knows that soup is best when it is two or three days old." At the close he judged: "It is very deep-cut, very radical—but I do not hesitate to say I like it." He thought also: "It will all be toned down with the thought that I am old—that it is my 70th year!" But Herbert Gilchrist did not think so. W.: "But anyhow, the lines are sharp, decided—and well so: at a dinner, a man must be sharp, quick: when people have been eating and drinking, they don't want anything dull or flat, to go to sleep over." Stoddart (Lippincott's magazine) had sent to Bonsall for a ticket for Julian Hawthorne. W. remarked: "I think I have met Hawthorne: a handsome fellow, isn't he? and dark? I do not remember much about our meeting, except that he was warm, rather inclined to be enthusiastic."

     Referred to the Edward Emerson matter again as "the meanest, sneakingest act I have encountered for a long time"—but "wondered" a little if it was "a good thing to bring up at the dinner?" Received today a poem from Elizabeth Porter Gould which is hardly of a calibre to read. I spoke of it to W. who said: "Well—exercise your taste—you need not use everything that is sent." Wrote to Habberton, Frothingham, Walsh Cockerill. W. keeps in prime condition (for him). Our hopes are great. He sat with his hat on as we waited. Postal from Clifford, asking for extracts from the Emerson letter on W. W.


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