Commentary

Disciples


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 212] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Thursday, December 26, 1889

     8 P.M. W. reading Stedman's big book. Commented on it to me. "I think that some of the best features of this book is in the pictures—some of them, not all; for on the other hand there are execrable samples. Look at this"—turning the pages over and showing me the Channing page. "What do you think of that? I have no doubt it is a caricature—a caricature of the

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 213] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
worst kind. I don't think Channing ever developed such an appearance."
And at this, laughing—I having picked up from the table the Illustrated London News version [of W. W.]— "And that! What a libel that is! Tom Donaldson—he was here last night—said he had seen it: What! that a picture of me? Psha! why that's foxy—foxy! It's no picture of me—not the slightest! I have no doubt the London artists of the lower orders, and the engravers, are a damned supercilious class, without the sense to know what is owing to fidelity, truth, nature. Artists there or anywhere are some of them eligible to be what they say the Parisian is—the typical Parisian—Paris to him is the center of the world, his coterie the heart of Paris! Resolved, that the elect shall put their stamp on the world—Resolved, that we are the elect! Something in that spirit."

     My father has been making a large copy of the Gutekunst picture and W. said: "I shall probably stop in to see it tomorrow if I get out. I passed the house the other day." I laughed— "And there are no Romeo Italian curls on it!" He then— "I hope not! I hope not!" Adding, "I was out yesterday—out today—for brief stretches. Yesterday I had a Christmas dinner, ate it home here—ate of it too heartily, I'm afraid—I am not over it yet." But Christmas had brought him friends. "See here"—lifting up one foot and showing me a new slipper—the other in a box near by— "this was one of them—nor anything more fit! And Tom Donaldson paid me quite a visit—brought along this bottle of whisky"—taking it up and reading the label to me. "He cracked it up high—according to that propensity in men which makes for the individual his minister, his doctor, his lawyer, his champagne—his what-not—the center of all world-importance. That is one of the great charges foreigners bring against America—against typical Americans—but I doubt very much if it is especially marked here—if it cannot well be found in other countries."

     I asked him if he had not found a rather sad strain in Symonds'

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 214] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
letter, and he responded: "You mean a pensiveness? I don't know. That hardly struck me. The thing that most impressed me was its almost passionate utterance—an almost abandon of passion—a marked, a remarkable, effusion of color—power—glow."

     When I came in he had asked me, "And have you news?" And on my negative merrily exclaiming, "Nor have I bite!"—explaining afterwards: "Two fishermen are together, and one asks the other, have you bite? and the response is, Nor have I bite! Tonight, bite is not yours, not mine!" Referring to Henry Grady, the brilliant young Southerner now dead: "I don't know as much about him as I should—but he is a man—or was—of distinct parts—as I imagined, a sort of John Boyle O'Reilly of the South."

      "I have had quite a curiosity," he said once more, "to fall on the track of my Brazilian poemetta—I looked for it to appear yesterday, but there is no sign of it." Referred to the Philadelphia Press as "specially well printed—even the illustrations—not remarkable in themselves—showing to advantage."

      "Did I tll you," he asked, "that I had an order today from a lady—for the pocket-book edition?—And there was the big book I sent off the other day to Sag Harbor—also to a woman."

     Promised to write me out a check for Billstein.


Comments?

Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Ed Folsom & Kenneth M. Price, editors.