Commentary

Disciples


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Wednesday, January 29, 1890

     7.15 P.M. W. reading Cooper. Spoke at once of the Brazilian poem. "Here's Swinton's card—turned up today," he said. But he could no better now than yesterday clear up the uncertainty of its issue abroad. "Why was it?—how?" W. asked. And I questioned: "Why was it not printed in this country?" W. then: "I don't know. There is a line in it which reads

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'More shining than the Cross, more than the Crown'
and that may have deterred the orthodox journalists."
But would it deter his friends? "No—they would not fear it as my friends but as journalists. You've no idea how the fellows stickle at such things—the timidity has no limit. The line is apparently innocent, yet I made it the expression of a deep-rooted idea—an idea I much affect—I should not wonder but the idea of the poem—Swinton calls it 'noble.'" W. spoke with regret of Swinton's complaint of "nervous prostration"—describing: "He's of a temperament intensely inclined towards nervosity. Mrs. Scovel once told me of an old play she had heard of or seen—a play in which much hangs upon the saying of one of the characters—beware of being the creature of one idea. I'm afraid John has been a man of one idea—and here is the effect of it." He said further,— "I sent the poem to the Post, which prints it." And he hunted me up slips—gave me two—one of them with changed headline (from "A Christmas Greeting from a Northern Star-Group to a Southern"—to another dropping the word Christmas, as it was declined in the meantime, though written in 1889)—and another the 4th line changed from
"Ours, ours the present throe, the democratic aim" etc. to dropping "present throe, the"—.

     Referred to Castelar: "Our folks here seem afraid to say anything about the new republic—a disposition just the opposite of that of the European fellows—especially in France—which is one of hearty welcome. We seem in a state of fearing expectancy." And as to a report that Ingersoll had said something to the same effect,— "I should be thoroughly inclined to Amen Bob!" And again: "Castelar, a man there in the peninsula, writing of democracy, does it with reference to a thousand things we can have slight or no idea of here."

     Received proof of "Osceola" today from Phillips and was amused to find the printer had alternated the lines, indenting every second one. Of course he instantly wrote to set it right.


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      "On the artistic side," W. said, "and the side of simple nature—there are lines on which Goldsmith is far more marked than Burns." And yet "Burns on the whole was the bigger man."


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