Commentary

Disciples


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Tuesday, March 4, 1890

     5.30 P.M. W. had just finished his dinner. Spoke of Harned's having been in. Asked me if I had written to Williamson, and learning I had, said: "Let the man come—the artist: I will do for him what I can—give him, say three sittings of half an hour each—which will probably be enough."

     Advised me that I "should write to John Burroughs"—for— "he spoke of you in the letter yesterday (which I have sent to Doctor) and said he would be glad to hear from you any time you felt moved to write." Laughed somewhat over Boyesen's lectures on American Literature at the University. "We have plenty of books in America—but about the literature?—oh! I have my doubts!"

     I had with me a copy of the Moss process engraving catalogue. W. thought: "Perhaps these new methods will thoroughly democratize art. To an artist, so-called, art is a very narrow thing indeed—he always puts the narrower meanings

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upon it."
I suggested "as the theologians upon religion"—to which W.— "Yes—exactly: it is the same thing. Art is to paint a picture according to a mode—but there is more to the story than that!" A picture of Whittier in the book attracted him.

     He remarked the various little paragraphs about Carpenter that nowadays creep into the newspapers. "He is a man who shares the view of Jesus, of Bacon,—who says, don't let us talk of faith any longer—let us do something. Any man can jabber, tell a story—any fluent-tonguey man can do that. But the man who can live the virtues, needs no courier, announcers—is the fact other men only dream of—he is the man we want—the man to absorb morality—to become it! Carpenter has the keenest sense of all that. He has been here, I have well seen him, he is very sympathetic towards America, very democratic—a great advance on his countrymen generally—even the cultivated men—scholars, artists, we see—who come here."

     He asked to "step in upon Melville Phillips" some day at my leisure. "Ask him about my proofs—why I have had none. He proposed to make the March issue of Munyon's Illustrated World a Whitman number. I wrote him something—but what I wrote was very scratchy—scraggly—and I would not have him put it through without giving me proof. But having no proof I presume they changed their minds about the March number." One of his comments: "I constantly hear people call for the new—for new pictures—and yet that call has no seduction for me whatever, for the oldest are often the newest to me. I find some of the pictures I came upon as a boy first are still fresh to me—exhale perennial dew."

     Complained that the weather was too severe and he could not get out today. "Had a letter from Rhys about a week ago. He remains in substance the same man: strong, quiet, serene." Spoke of the odor of wood— "its exquisiteness. I remember it at the great New York Exhibition—a whole room given to it. To me it was a constant delight—a perfume better

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than all perfumes."
I described how in my boyhood I had used to watch the pump-maker outside Camden—a Mr. Vautier—and what to me then was the woodsy experience. W. exclaimed— "Oh! I can realize it. I had just such experiences when I was a youngster."

     He gave me a copy of a Camden paper—the Courier, asking that I read editorial therein "taking exception—almost violent—to the Le Coney verdict." I did not think he took that much interest in the trial.


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