Commentary

Disciples


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Wednesday, December 25, 1889 Christmas

     11.30 A.M. W. in his room, making up a package of portraits—ribboning it—autographing—etc. On the chair a sprig of holly, which he called my attention to. The little things—so-understood—which make up man's life!

     Left with him The London Illustrated News containing the portrait. As I returned to him Symonds' letter, I called it "a great letter." And W.: "You think it is? I should not wonder." Saying further after a pause: "Coming from Great Britain—from a man of books, a world of books, it has a quality highly significant." I remarked: "But it is a letter you never could have written, however much your love or reverence for another." W.: "You think so? That it will not do for democratic America? It is gushing?" I responded: "I don't like that word—but it is not a letter you would have written Emerson, or Emerson you: it is too much in the spirit of discipleship." At this his face lighted up. "Oh! I see! and that's very penetrating, too—very good—I don't know but the final truth." "And now," I put in, "what becomes of Kennedy's saying last year that Symonds was too timid to avow himself?" W. argued: "I remember—but that was written from another base, coming of Symonds' letter at the time of Swinburne's—shall I call it?—diatribe of me in the English magazine. But after the letter in your book—and now this confirmation—this clinch to that—I think no more need be said on the other ground." He afterwards asked me: "After all, do you not think this letter better than the one you printed in your book? It is more intimate, more personal, more throbbing. I have been speculating what to do with the letter—whether to send it on

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one of my combination trips—to Burroughs, through him to Kennedy, through Kennedy to Bucke. At any rate I want to read it again, and carefully, myself."
As to the missing line or poem spoken of by Symonds, W. declared: "I am not clear about that line—are you? If it was dropped, it must have been for some good reason—for I have my reasons—to me the best of reasons—for such changes as I make. Yet I do not in the least remember the line, though it was no doubt there and may come back to me when I start to look it up, as I shall." And then he asked me about Symonds' Greek books—advised me to read. "Take my books! Long ago I first came across them—cherished them: they have been part of my household for many years—a lasting refreshment."

     Went further into experiences. "Did I tell you I went out to the Cemetery yesterday? I selected a beautiful lot—to me the most beautiful in the place—the land slopes down to Cooper's Creek. I think there must be fifty or more buried there already." I asked: "Do you intend it for a burial lot—do you wish to be buried there?" He at once assented: "Yes! that is the intention. I know about the lot in Laurel Hill—Pearsall Smith's—but this I deliberately select, with a serious end in view." And as to the man who wished to know "if W.W. was content to be buried in such a damned place as Camden"—he said: "What comes then is not to be worried over. I wish you would go out to see this lot sometime—go tell Mr. Moore you want to—I should like to know what you think of it."

     Gilchrist was in last evening after I left.


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