Commentary

Disciples


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Tuesday, January 28, 1890

     7.15 P.M. W. writing on my entrance. Did not appear well, nor was he. Had been out, however, in spite of the severe weather. Invited me almost on start to take a doughnut. "Mary does it well—I know no better hand—and these last are her best!" Commented on the announcement that

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Tennyson had consented to sign an edition of 100 copies of his poems. "I suppose they will have a tremendous market-value—be produced in unexampled elegance."

     Gave me a copy of the Open Court—a marked article therein by Cope, but W. had not read it: "I find little to interest me." Gave me also his Contemporary Club tickets. Expected "Old Age's Ship and Crafty Death's" in the next Century. "I can give you a slip of it now—I have them here—but perhaps I had better wait a day or two. I am quite punctilious on that point as a usual thing. I get the slips printed as a measure of protection. I have been so annoyed at different times, having commas left out when they should be in, and inserted when I did not command it, that I thought a printed copy the only final safety. The devil gets into printers, and then all's hell!" This led to mention of proof-readers. "Very few people know—very few readers of books—literary people—what we owe to proof-readers—the indefatigable proof-reader. I knew one, Henry Clark, a man not of extraordinary appearance—plain—but a man who seemed the deeper, more expansive, the more a fellow looked. He was a Boston man—the reader of the final proofs of the Boston edition of Leaves of Grass." And then: "I have long intended making some note of this—to make an article of it—not speculative, disquisitional, but in the main reminiscence. And in such a work, what it is to have a bright boy—copyholder! I think I must not forget to include the boy in my story."

      "I had a note—a curious note today—a postal—all the way from Nice. It was written by John Swinton. He writes to tell me he had seen my Brazilian poem in a Parisian paper—says he likes it—congratulates me that I am strong enough, with ability still to write so." But how the poem had got to France— "and we had never a glimpse of it here"—W. "could not account for it." "I am mystified. I supposed maybe McClure had altogether decided against using it. Evidently it

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has appeared somewhere, and escaped our vigilance."
But try his best, he could not find the postal to show me—it having "undoubtedly slipped on the floor in the mess somehow."

     Project of dinner in Philadelphia revived. I was in to see Lincoln Eyre about it and have spoken to Harrison Morris. Date, April 14th.—at the Art Club. May assent if Morris and others of his standing go in, but shall not if the boys now talking it over are left to manage it. Talked to this effect to W., who said: "That is right: that is the right view: learn what you can: I leave it in your hands: when we know what they want of us we can make our answer." Met Brinton in Philadelphia today, who sent his greetings to W., who was much pleased, as is always the case. Brinton very eulogistic of W. Said on general matters when I told him W.'s attitude towards science and the orthodox church: "In that he agrees with the main body of modern scientific workers, who feel that the orthodox church is an obstacle in the way of progress."

     I asked W. if he had ever heard Theodore Parker? "Yes—I think I have—I am sure I have—but the impression is mainly gone. My impression of Father Taylor is very vivid because I heard him repeatedly. One's memory rusts a great deal—things coming up in the reminiscence way are confused, often utterly unless as matters of authentic record." Later, as I left, he said: "I ought to tell you I got 5 dollars today from Kennedy for that book: he sent it in spite of our protests. And only the other day I expressly told him not to. Well—well."


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