Commentary

Disciples


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Thursday, June 6, 1889

     8 P.M. W. sitting in parlor, and alone. I asked him at once about the World matter. He responded: "Yes, I got it off—I suppose it will be in tomorrow's issue." Was it a poem, or prose? "A poem—or supposed to be—written for that—although till I see it in print I shall not know myself what to call it or whether I am satisfied. I don't know what it was—whether the money, or my own condition, that inspired me. They offered me 25 dollars for it: no doubt there was some spur in knowing that. At any rate, it was done. When I got up this morning I did not feel at all well, but by and by, later on, improved. And in the time between twelve and two—in about an hour and a half—say to half past one—I accomplished the poem. Eddy took it over." He said he had been doubtful enough himself "Whether anything would come" to him on the subject—but "somehow" it had. I told him I had met Browning last night on the boat and he said: "I am glad; he is a quiet,—what they call an old fashioned,—fellow, but very good—I always liked him."

     I received Garland's speech today, and with it a short note in which, among other things, he wished W.'s attention called

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to certain passages. I read all to W., that public piece as well as this private one. I tried to go over it in the waning light there at the window—but it would not do. W. then hastily took a match from his pocket and struck it, I igniting the gas. He drew his curtain down. "Now," he said, "now we can have Hamlin's deliverance!" Listened intently, face bent towards the ground, hands clasped, hat on—easy, fine, well. He called it "all aflush with applause" but was still "glad" it had come. But "it seems genuinely written—Hamlin meant it—every word of it." And he said again, what he has said so often, and what he said to Browning yesterday: "I must have been unusually well the day of the dinner, else how could I have stood it, to be so lorded over it by everybody?" But his gratefulness for Garland's friendship did not end off in such a strain as that. "I know it is very warm—but in itself, it is fine—a good bit of literature, taking it that way—and a-throb, too—it has pulse: an all-important point." It seemed to him "quite an accession" to the matter of our pamphlet.

     Said he had been "out towards the city hall" again. "The air is freer there than here—purer—more tempting: in fact I don't know but the best in Camden without exception. Had I the way, I should take my house and lump it down there: or if an opportunity came to exchange it—who knows?" I now spoke with him touching the picture left with Brown. Said he would write to William Carey, asking permission to use the negative. "I shall have it made the biggest that will give it entrance to the book. I prefer to deal with Carey, too—he has charge, and knows me well—is so friendly and true." I could definitely inform Brown that we would have it done. Very noncommittal about Lincoln Eyre matter—more ready to ask about Eyre and the delivery of the lecture than to lay down an opinion. But he said: "I have looked through it—have read the last part there, connected with the lines from Leaves of Grass." This question I raised to him:—should we not quote a few words from the Lachine Falls man in our pamphlet?—

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would it not indicate that we had appreciatively heard him down here? W. caught eagerly at the idea: "Yes indeed: it is a striking idea—and to all of us would explain itself. How nobly his few words—some of them culled here and there, would well go along!"

     Said he had heard from Bucke. "He has received the pocket edition—is very warm in speaking of it—calls it a perfect book—says nothing, however, about the printing: probably the copy I sent him was not the worst: anyhow, he did not remark it. Now did he say anything about the portraits. He has received the papers about the dinner—and so has Kennedy: I heard from him, too—though not newsily—just now." He dwells pathetically on the Johnstown incident. As to reported thieves there, he is dubious. "There may be some scalawags there—there are such everywhere; but they are not many. It would be impossible to go anywhere and not find representatives, but they never figure to any great extent: make a noise, perhaps—and confuse us—but that is all." And he reflected: "The cloud is dark and dark. Now they fear pestilence: I wonder? I wonder? They will burn bodies—which is well—the best thing. That seems one of our future questions, anyhow: whether that is not always the best disposal of the dead." I think W. has so lived in this the past week that to write of it must have come easy to him. Clifford had made some suggestion of the sort to me Sunday, and when I repeated it to W., he was pleased and interested and said so. Clifford had intimated that W. was the only man living who could rightly hit the emotion of the moment in presence of such a disaster.

     Directed me to his bed, upstairs, on which he had laid out for me a packet of letters and papers. After leaving I found the copies of Home Journal I had left with him, letter from Julius Chambers, Bucke's letter of June fourth about the book, letter from Alma Johnston. On envelope of the Chambers letter he had pasted Transcript publication of the Whittier letter.


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