Commentary

Disciples


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Thursday, January 30, 1890

     5.20 P.M. W. in his room—had just concluded dinner. Warren came in while I sat there and took the tray off. W. had asked several times about it, so today I secured the Times of Sunday, now giving it to him, and he remarking: "I have not read a word of that—yet I would be willing to make a wager, there's not a word of it authentic." To the statement that he had said the death of Boker "rattled" him—: "That sounds just like me, don't it? Rather, it sounds more like Reddy!" And when I looked mystified by the reference, he laughingly particularized: "Did I never tell you about Reddy—the fellow who invented me on the cremation issue? He was called Reddy—had red hair—and a scamp he was, too! He is dead now. The way that came about was this: he had the impudence to write me—it was several days [later]—and explain that he had a chance to make 3 or 5 dollars by collecting opinions on cremation—had collected some but had not time to come over to see me. And there I was, in the most conspicuous place of the three-quarter column. It was a fair sample of what we call American journalist cheek. And this—the one in the Times—is probably another. I should not wonder at all but Jim Scovel wrote it, anyhow!"

     He spoke with great warmth, and more fully than yesterday, of Castelar's speech. "I have read it through now—every word. It is thoroughly frank, thoroughly characteristic. There are not a few things in which we need to learn much of the Spaniards, Italians, French—and this is one of them. Castelar's speech is impassionate egotism—yet an egotism of a high and noble nature, which we presume eminently fits and

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becomes him. It is a confession—the song, utterance, of personality—in substance this: that Don Pedro is not the man he is credited with being—is not the broad King of the reports: is Emperor: that in the old times, 20 years or more [ago] in Castelar's need in Spain, the Emperor insulted him—and so on, suggesting in every way the happy right Castelar has to his feeling. None of our men would dare allow themselves such a personal statement—they are in every way afraid to let themselves out—all of them—litterateurs—all. Except only Emerson, whose every word somehow seemed an eternal fitness in itself—needed no explication. But Emerson stood alone."
And further: "What has Arnold contributed for us? Of course I speak of him a good deal with reference to what he said of America—of us—of Emerson. What did he know of us? What value had his divining rod? Sweetness and light? Damn sweetness and light! We have already too much of it! I like the north-west winds—the fearless tides: to brace these—to take these naturally, heroically—as in themselves matters of course! It would seem as if our civilization was doing all it could to get away from all that signified of inherent nativities—of what at best belongs to us all!" He knew that John Burroughs had some notion that "Arnold was the man for England"—but— "It's a great pity John did not use that logic in his consideration of Victor Hugo—he has been a bitter antagonist of Hugo without and within. The world is surfeited of the Arnoldisms. All the fellows are bent on being correct, elegant. I hate the man"—this with a laugh which took all the edge off of "hate"— "who comes to me and speaks to me of his perfect English. Perfect English and perfect sense don't always go together!"

     He remarked again: "This, now, is Thursday. I suppose I have received more than a dozen letters this week—nearer 2 dozen—and out of these a full three-quarters are applications for autographs—some of them very insinuating. I wonder if the disease don't sometimes take a stronger turn than at others?"


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