Commentary

Disciples


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Wednesday, July 10, 1889

     Stopped in at W.'s on my way home (5.10) to leave one set of proofs of my piece for the book. He sat eating his meal—

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fan in one hand. We talked little. He remarked, "I am glad you will leave it for an hour or two." Did not think he would get out today as it threatened rain. But he was in too bad a condition anyhow. His yesterday's discomfort persisted.

     7.50 P.M. In at W.'s again. He lay on sofa in parlor, his cane on the floor, fan in hand, a chair nearby on which he rested his right arm. Talked very cheerily, however. Had not got out, as I expected. "Ed," he said, "are you there at the window?" and to Ed's "Yes," directed, "If you will go up stairs, up there on the landing, you'll find a little package—they are proofs for Horace: bring them down"—which Ed did. But he had found no material errors. Except for Johnston's name, "matters seemed mostly straight." Brown has promised (loosely) the pictures for tomorrow. W. "glad." W. advised: "You must take care to give the topic of the toast a good size and shape: I hardly think lower case Italics will do—you should use caps—perhaps even caps pica." But, "I should not spread things out—I should keep both letters and speeches well together"—which was precisely my intention.

     Asked me about Dave's trip West. "How far does he go?" And learning, to Denver, perhaps to take a season at Colorado Springs, W. remarked: "The springs are not wonderful—though fine and great: built up, I should say—wisely built up—but not initially striking, though Denver itself is a great town—or to be a great town—no doubt one of the greatest on the continent. Denver is bound to be one of the most wonderful of our city-growths—wonderful: she will always be a great cluster-point for the rich ores of the grand, limitless West—already has the finest smelting works in America: things all well done—the latest improvements—always looking ahead: and keen, strong, broad-backed men—America's best. The land about there is remarkable for its natural parks—there are numbers of them, fine, satisfying, Paradisaic, bits of reserve—the noblest the earth affords, often

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in what might be called a depression—the fountain of streams running there along into most fertile soils. Denver is phenomenal for its background—its ample background: not much of a river there, but a river that does. Denver has its own excuse for being—it is a center—a natural center—a rallying point: it is one of the great towns that had to be—as New Orleans, for instance."
I laughed and said, "Yes, what would the Sullivan men have done without New Orleans?" W. laughing heartily also, "Oh! that is merely a fleeting, incidental matter. But New Orleans, not at all attractive in itself—not what would be called beautiful by an artistic eye—is yet a pure necessity: America, traffic—traffic even before the railroad; none the less since—ordained that a city was needed at just that precise point—a distributing center—a depot—and so this city grew, and so is likely to last for some time yet—last while the need lasts. Denver is just such a place; grew out of precisely the same condition." W. had heard somewhere of high buildings going up in the Kansan town. "I cannot see their necessity," he objected, "I can see how downtown in Philadelphia: how downtown in New York: such buildings would be advised—would become an imperative necessity; but in the West?—no, I cannot see it. One of the first points that takes hold on you as you go west is, that here is lots and lots and lots and lots and still lots beyond lots, of land, on which men may spread out as they choose—land limitless—miles and miles and miles and miles and miles—no end!"

     He tried to name me one of the Western rivers—a Greek name—but it "failed" him. He laughed— "It was a terrible one." I put in— "Named by the drunken pedagogue who gave names to the New York towns?" He laughed— "Probably a relative: you mean the Ithaca, Utica, Troy man? I think so far as such names go, however, that the South beats us all hollow—look at Memphis—a fearful name—with no smack of the soil whatever—yet hundreds, thousands, like it!" The great Indian names "lost, like so many opportunities!" I referred to

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McKay—my reference to him in the introduction—that some thought Dave's act in espousal of W. "merely a business act," but that I saw more than "business" in its effects, whatever Dave's motive. W. said, "That was right: it serves little good purpose to dive at such a thing microscopically—at anything: I don't know but every act—even acts accounted noble—may, at last analysis—in final origins—be found to be selfish. Is there not a great man—even one of our fellows—who says so?—seems to me so!" But "Dave at that time rescued us, whatever else is to be said—he appeared just in the nick of trouble. That is not to be forgotten—we must not forget it!"


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