Commentary

Disciples


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Saturday, January 18, 1890

     6 P.M. W. out today, but again only in a brief sort of way. Speaks repeatedly of his sensitiveness even to slight experiences of cold. Said he had written Bucke telling him of B.'s error in regard to the Symonds letter. Thought he would have to come up and see my father's picture.

     Left with him Harper's Weekly. In it a picture of the new World office, N. Y.—a great, marvellous structure—striking us both with wonder. W. said: "They'd better hurry up and get it under way. Things are not at all certain in this world. If we don't get them done at the first flush, there's a doubt in all the future,"—and pointing to a stove-pipe-hatted, comfortable looking, coated man in the foreground—and laughing lightly— "That's New York! New York to the bone!"—and to a fruit-stand— "and that, too!"—and then variously— "and all else, too!"—and if I would leave the paper he would "enjoy looking it over at more leisure."

     Gave me back the Magazine of Art. Had he read Swinburne's poem? "I must own I have not: I read some lines of it, but it did not get any grip on me. So I did not attempt it all through. But the magazine itself interested me—the pictures: indicating what the boys are doing, right and left." And then quite vigorously: "There are Holy Families again—and some every month in the Century"—adding, when I said there was a Tadema picture in the Bazaar which I wished to show him—that it was a Roman subject— "I am almost against it from the start—yet should see what it amounts to. To some things in art—Holy Families, Roman chariot races, lords,

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ladies, all that—I stand a witness against. We ought attest our opposition to them, unalterably—not opposition to their past, which was legitimate enough, but to their importance for the present. Of course they have had their place—their world—but that time is gone—all gone. The saddest part about it is, that they still have a following, a constituency. Not that the Century publishes them so much, but that it is very certain they would not publish them if there was not a demand—the preciousness [?] therefore in the demand."
And he did "not know if nature anywhere in Europe had its real votaries—even in France or Germany—or (though I would not dare say it if Herbert were here) in England—where art is in a very dubious quantity anyhow."

      "What is dry-point?" he asked, and we discussed dry-point somewhat. Some doughnuts there on a plate. Would have it I should take some home. "If you are going direct home I want to send one to your mother, one to Tillie, one to Aggie and one to the father—to the father particularly this time."


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