Commentary

Disciples


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Thursday, March 6, 1890

     5.45 P.M. W. in his room. Day extremely cold. Boys out-of-doors skating on the pavements. Some snow along the streets, but not much. W. discussed the new appearance of things—his own "imprisonment"—yet "delights in the gift to see, if not tread the earth."

     He asked me about the dinner. Young Hughes had been in to see me today, stating his grandiloquent plans. I told him of our own intention as to a dinner on W.'s birthday and he thereupon had nothing to do but drop his own plans. He had had one Wagerman (?) of Brooklyn—to write a poem: "He is the greatest poet of the age"—after a pause— "excepting Walt Whitman." To my incredulous looks— "but he has not published much: he is atheistic" &c. When I told W. this he laughed—then said seriously: "Better not only to have that postponed but dropped—dropped flat, without compunction!" And further: "My fear is of a deluge of soft soap—that I may go down in the flood. No—no. I think what you did was the best thing could be done. Above all we must avoid flattery—the tendency in anyone to pile it on and on till a fellow no longer shows his honest self at all! And you must see to it—see it is not done." I said my plan was to have a

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gathering of W.'s known friends,—no formal speeches: speeches if anyone was prompted to speak—but none otherwise—everything spontaneous and free. W.: "That is an idea—a good one—it commends itself to my mind at once. The birthday at Harned's!—how au fait!—I shall not forget it—it was sui generis—as in fact all true dinners or celebrations of whatever kind should be." And then he said again: "It was a good idea to sit down on display plans: keep it in your own hands—the hands of those who know me. I shall wish to be good-natured—to assent to everything if possible."


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