Commentary

Disciples


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Friday, January 3, 1890

     7.30 P.M. W. in his room reading a book which proved to be Hedge's "Prose Writers of Germany." When we commenced talking he laid it down, but by and bye took hold of it again and said to me: "Do you know anything about this book? It seems to me a great, a teeming book. I have had it about me for a full thirty years, and from time to time gone through it again." And he asked me about Hedge himself— "Alive still?" as he is—calling my attention to some of the portraits—particularly Schiller's—saying of this— "What a beautiful man he must have been!"—and being very curious about Jean Paul. "There is no mention of Heine, but I wish there was." His copy is an edition of 1848. "I guess I have had it nearly from that date." I read and translated for him the German text on the title page, signifying the profundity of the German nature rather than its delicacy etc.—and he thought that "a profound reflection itself."

      "I have a letter from Doctor today. Yes indeed, he speaks of your note—seems to be in great glee about it—about me. Says you give him glowing good accounts." I laughed at the glow, but told W. what had been the substance of my letter: then asking him: "Don't you really feel yourself more comfortable than last winter?" "Yes indeed"—adding— "I was out today—enjoyed myself to the full—it seemed a little cold—did it to you? but it was fresh and fine." And he acknowledged that these were "the saving of" him.

      "Tom was here last night," he said, "and he brought along a big bottle of whisky—the best you ever saw." Then adding,

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after some reflection: "I think I shall mix a pitcher of toddy tomorrow." Asking me then amusedly: "Are you fully and irrevocably determined against it?"—adding— "Well—if you are, then I won't save you any." I put in— "No—keep mine for your own profit." And he laughed— "Profit? No—I shall drink very little myself—it would not do—only enough to taste—to be satisfied it is right—that my cunning has not left me." This day's papers much given to accounts of the death of George H. Boker yesterday. W. said: "Boker seems to have been a genuine man, a good liver,—genial,—eating, drinking. He is Elizabethan, I should say—one with the men of the Elizabethan time—with Shakespeare, with Marlowe, with Johnson: brilliant, versatile, alert." He admitted "Francesca da Rimini" was "much of a play"—adding— "I knew Boker—met him: he had the look of a man with the best to drink; the best to eat; warm, florid, almost effusive in his ways." And— "He seems to have suffered a good deal toward the last. Poor fellow—poor fellow!"

     Said he had not yet sent Symonds' letter to Bucke. Gave me a check to settle up with Billstein. I had a letter from Brinton in which he gave me the names of several Danish scholars. W. said: "To a man understanding us, our ways—taking an interest in us—such a reading and translation, pencil in hand, would be an hour's pleasant diversion."

     That Mrs. Fairchild signed herself "Elizabeth Fairchild" in the letter I received today seemed to awaken a curious line of reasoning in him. "Is it some sudden new development of woman's-rights-ism?" he asked— some [?] of independence?"


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