Commentary

Disciples


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Monday, January 20, 1890

     7.55 P.M. W. reading the paper. As the day had been a rainy one, he had not been out. But spoke of his outing yesterday and visit at my father's. "The picture seems a great triumph," he said, "now that the eyes are set right, it takes almost a

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perfect color to me. Your father certainly shows remarkable power in such work. One of the fine points of the picture is, that though he uses no color whatever, I can see color everywhere—a most subtle illusion—rather, actuality."
And as to the copy for Mrs. Fels, to be really in color and to represent W. in his own chair, not the upholstered one,— "I confess I look forward to it with considerable trepidation. It would be a miracle if he did as well a second time as this first." And then he laughing warned me: "Tell him when you go home to let the picture be absolutely as it is—touch it in no way further." And then swinging his chair about and looking among things on the floor— "That reminds me, there is a book here I want to send to your father—you can take it along now—a book with Gray's poems—or containing Gray's poems—one of them on 'The Bard,' of which I spoke to your father." Finally, after much search, found it. It is a book I have had about me for a long time—read it off and on—particularly in war-times, when I had little baggage—3 or 4 books in all, probably in a handbag. Here was Milton—the best of Milton, I think—of the two Paradises. And there was Collins and even Young, who is well worth looking into, in a way—in spite of George Eliot's singeing"—and here with a laugh he turned to a note he had written in the fore part of the book:

     "I used to read this Vol: to pass away long 'waits' &c. at Washington, at the Army Hospitals, or waiting for the boats bringing loads of wounded, &c.—dipped it into [means 'into it'] those years 1862, '3, '4 & '5 there & since in Camden N J 1874 to 1888—
"have had it with me over thirty years—scribbled this in Mickle Street Sept: 20 '88 Camden New Jersey
"have dwelt a good deal on Gray—read George Eliot's roasting of Dr. Young as poet and person (in one of her essays)"—

     The last in the little book he had for me [for H. T.'s father]. On the title page he had written


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     Walt Whitman
Dec 1863

     in blue pencil, and at a later date underscored it with a pencil of another color—purple. At the life of Milton therein he marginally wrote: "(who is the author of the biography?)" He had pencilled dates of birth and death at each one of the biographies, and pinned in at one place (dating it 1888) an extract —"The Poet Gray's Unhappy Life"—from Arthur Benson, Macmillan's. The volume was one of Grigg and Elliot's, Philadelphia 1841, and contained Milton, Young, Gray, Beattie and Collins. We discussed some of the minor poets—Herrick, Motherwell, Lovelace—of late years revived. "This book has been a companion of the first order: there were times when I could not be found without it."

     Still consumed to know if the "good news" about Stedman has been confirmed. Said his mail had been "pretty thin," but "there was a letter from Logan Smith which was cheery, anyhow." And added— "Alys Smith was over yesterday. She was en route for Millville—has a bosom friend, a girl, there." Returned me Harper's Weekly. I left the Bazaar there—he wishing to look at the Tadema picture.


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