Commentary

Disciples


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Friday, January 10, 1890

     6.40 P.M. Though not severely cold, it was too raw and moist for W.'s getting out today. When I came into the room, he had a lap full of papers etc. "I am reading the Spectator," he remarked, "some thoughtful person keeps on sending it to me." And nearby was the Pall Mall Gazette—full of Browning—with a curious portrait—of which W. declared: "That is a study in engraving—strangely lined, outside of the usual—but on the whole very effectively done."

     I told him the episode of the doughnut. "Oh! that was interesting—and how good of 'em!—Thanks—thanks!" And after a pause: "I say 'thanks' for the want of a word more expressive." I put in— "Bucke says you do not say 'thank you,' except rarely." W. hereupon— "Oh! but I guess I do—plenty often enough, for all practical purposes—or other!"

     He never was able to decipher Burroughs' Poughkeepsie address as given in the last note. In sending the introductory note on to Adler I had to advise him of our ignornance. W.: "Correspondents have the strangest and most persistent idiosyncrasies—a sort of hate of being explicit. They are very fond of beating the devil around the stump. You will not credit it, but I once sent some money to someone who was in need of it—but there came no acknowledgment. I had letters, but never a word about this—not a word. I wrote a second, a third, would you believe, a fourth time—in no way the word I wished!" Even at the last, when an answer was given to my question, it was still so indefinite I could not make it out—do not know to this day if my 8 dollars were actually received. I don't suppose I have a big correspondence at all, but I suppose one-sixth of the letters I receive are of the worrisome kind—letters for autographs, letters begging for money (they have heard I am a kindly old man!)—letters for literary advice—not the fewest, these—letters without number from men—famous men, as the world goes, who write bad hands. Just today I got a letter from Mrs.

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Mapes, who, as you know, has gone west. She has a poor old aunt or somebody out there, and I sent a little money for her. I think the letter must be very interesting, but it is written in the palest of pale ink—ink all watered out. I wrestled with it some 15 minutes, then gave it up—handed it over to Mary."

     The papers this morning extensively announced the death of Judge W. D. Kelly. I asked W. if he knew the Judge? "Oh yes! I knew the Judge quite well—had many a talk with him—not a bad fellow; but a man from head to toe—from the crown of the crown of his head, to the sole of the sole of his feet, the henchman of the protection interests—a man who is like a preacher: he preaches his creed so often, so long, he believes it must be true. Our man Dudley here is much the same kind of a man. They believe America could not be, could not last, but for this particular dogma. Yet Kelly was not all of this sort—in most things (I don't know about religion)—he was radical: a plain man in his ways, much of a democrat."

     I happened to say tonight in one of our discussions: "The most important lessons of history are of avoidance—avoidance rather than guidance, except as avoidance is guidance." W. exclaiming, "Why how profound, how fine, this is! I have often struggled to say that, in my own way, but a less way."


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