Commentary

Disciples


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Sunday, June 9, 1889

     7.45 P.M. W. had already retreated in-doors. His chair was in front of the house, but occupied by Eddy. W. inside at the parlor window. Had had a bad day—felt weak and ill—worse than yesterday, by far. When he first got up, he said in reply to Ed's question: "I don't know how I feel." Finally the bad took hold. It has been very warm and close the whole day. He had secured a ride, but on that was not as warm and comfortable as usual. Said he, anent his condition: "Tom was in today for a short visit—very short; and he brought along a bottle of champagne, which set me up wonderfully. I think this brand Tom has is the best that ever was known—I know no other like it. What," he went on, "do you know of the history of champagne? Who invented it? When? Is it a modern drink? Sitting here today, I have wondered. Then I have been asking, what of the California Champagne?"

     Was very insistent with his question, what is the news? I

Note (med.00005.277r1): *Conemaugh Valley, the place of disaster that gave rise to W.'s poem. (Return to text.)


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asked him about the Cuneo correspondent—if he had enclosed a draft?—and what he knew about him. But he responded: "That's a question I wished to put to you—how did the letter impress you?" And he said further: "I should judge he was a proofreader, or whatnot." Upon my expression of opinion that I supposed from the tone of the letter he had enclosed a draft, W. smiled— "Assurance, you think? You think he is cool? Probably that is the right view to take." He thought it a "curious" puzzle, how to take such a distant, and so cool as to seem innocent, letter. Said to me: "You are going to let me see your bundle of manuscript when you have it all ready? You can bring it down and leave it over night." He wrote to Tom Donaldson today about the money. The other day when Ed proposed taking a letter for it, W. declared— "why take a letter?—tell him"; insisting upon the view he took with me, that "we must make no bones about it, but, the money being for us, must demand it."

     Called my attention to fact that the Courier of Friday printed his poem in full. Everybody remarks its "power." I said this to W., whereupon he affirmed: "It is a pleasant, gratifying thing to hear. The next question is, is it true?" Speaks of "having material for another poem," but makes no allusion to its subject-matter, and I do not question him. The other day when he got up expecting to write the Johnstown poem, he told Ed he did not wish to see anyone at all should there be callers. He jokes a good deal about the fee attached to the poem. "It was before my eyes all the time I was writing." Tom left him the Tribune today as usual, and this he read with interest. Says he has been reading Stepniak—that it is a book to seize upon one. But the weather and events had interfered with anything like consecutive reading. Had not yet written to William Carey. I urged, let me write. Upon which he said— "I don't know but I shall"—giving me very specific directions how to address Carey.


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