Commentary

Disciples


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Saturday, December 28, 1889

     7.55 P.M. W. in his room. Welcomed me and said: "I am reading a story here of Amelia Barr's—in the November Century." Adding— "And it is quite interesting, too." It was "one thing" to "while away the time." Had he been out today? "No," he said— "I was not permitted today. Warrie, boy, there, has been quite sick—he lies in the next room there now. Yes, I suppose it is the grippe—" now rampant in Philadelphia. Asked me therefore curiously about the weather. Said he had not yet sent the Symonds letter to Dr. Bucke— "though I have told him I had it"—wishing to read it still himself.

      "And now," he said, "the year draws to a close—again and again, draws, draws." I asked, "And 1890—is it to have a greeting from you?" He "hardly" thought so. I said: "The last year's, to some, was savage."—And he: "I don't know but it was sort of that way—it must have been if it affected so good a friend as Mr. Coates—which is Herbert's version, isn't it?" His Brazilian poem has not yet turned up. "Have you come across it anywhere in your travels?" he inquired. Returned me the Bazaar—remarking of "Rembrandt as an officer"— "That picture is wonderful fine—yet not so good, I should say, as his Burgomaster—the best I know from him. Not the least part of that is the engraving, which is superb." W. had seen a reference in The Critic— "The final chapter on 'Toward the Subjective' reminds me of Walt Whitman's prose, without

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the brilliant flashes of genius found in the writer across the Delaware."
This in treating of a book of John Darby's: W. thinking it "generous and kindly" though dubious about that word "brilliant" and the "flash," which "hardly apply."

     I read to W. the letter from Stockley [the proposed translator of Sarrazin recently spoke of]—of which extracts are given below—written to [Harrison] Morris and left by M. with me today.

      It is very kind of you to say you would like to see my translation and that Walt Whitman himself would or might. Your advice I should only be too glad of. If it is not accepting too roughly your generous offer of advice, may I ask if I could in writing to M. Sarrazin be in any way introduced? He would naturally be more disposed to listen to his would-be translator. . . . You kindly said you thought you could get M. Sarrazin's address. Might I have it? [etc.] . . . Do you know of any publisher in whose special line such a translation would be?

     W. listened and remarked: "If he is but about to translate, then I wish him good luck—if he wishes Sarrazin's address, that we can give him; if he asks advice about a publisher—no, no name occurs to me—I have nothing to say on that point; if he means to hint for an introduction from me, there emphatically no—emphatically no. He will have to go his own risks, letting come what may upon the event. Much will depend upon his own work." The Sarrazin book "is public property: let him get his book out—abide the result."

     Alluded to Symonds' "exquisitely fine nature." I called his passage very strong in which, as I said, "After questioning about the missing poem, he pulls himself up suddenly by saying in substance—but here now, this is not Leaves of Grass—this is detail and L. of G. demands the mass." —W. exclaiming— "Good! good! So you think that's the way it sounded?"

     I told him the Haydn story (I think Haydn)—the K?nfurst[?] or Duke or somebody, patron of his band, who for economy's sake was to dispense with the band finally—how Haydn

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composed a farewell piece, for a performance, in which one instrument after another could be dispensed with, each man putting his instrument away etc., and passing off as it was done. W. exclaimed: "That is a poem—exquisite—grand and fine—high among the best I know!"


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