Commentary

Disciples


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Saturday, March 8, 1890

     7.45 P.M. W. in his room—again reading Felton's lectures. He returned to me Morse's letter, with a letter from Dr. Bucke containing enclosures from Mrs. O'Connor which he wished me to read. I gave him Ingersoll's address.

     Harned came in while I sat there—and finally we went out and to his house together. Just before H. had come in W. had given me a whiskey bottle to have H. fill. When finally we

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were to go, W. asked me if I would not "bring the bottle back tonight" as, "I am all out of it—feel like a little nip before I go to bed." His talk very full and clear—so much so as to excite H.'s remark. W. referred as often before to the story of the miller: "I don't care by what road you brought the wheat, so it is good." And added— "That is a sockdologer for the preachers, ain't it?"—laughing heartily.

     He had read a story in this morning's paper—English news—: "A preacher there—in one of the royal chapels—a somebody or other—made a reference to the Queen, who was present, which made her blazing mad. He was a man probably knowing somewhat of the part preachers played in the reign of Louis XIV—fellows who would rebuke the nobles—even the Kings—from the very pulpit. This man said—or is said to have said—'And as for you, madame'—and then gone on with his sermon. After all was over the Queen called him—gave him what the Irishman would call, 'a piece of her mind'—told him he should never preach again in a royal chapel, or something to that effect." W. had been "interested"—yet put in finally: "I suppose the whole story is doubtful—it has a fishy smell. For somehow the Queen has always impressed me as one possessed of the greatest tact." And then he instanced the Buchanen reception episode again: "That is undoubtedly authentic—it made quite a ripple at the time—and is proof to me of the Queen's tact—a possession which in women—as seen in women of even ordinary make-up, often—is the biggest thing in the world."

     Clifford lectured in Camden last evening on the French Revolution. W. referred to the subject—Carlyle's exposition of it—illustrated by a story out of his own experience—then: "And so with this—I wonder, not that it was bloody, but that it was not bloodier. The capacity of the true man for turning upon his oppressor is one of the glories of the race—its security, in fact. I remember Mrs. Ernestine L. Rose—the big, noble woman!—when speaking of the Revolution—the

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Frenchmen—and it was one of the very few things which ruffle her out of her beautiful placidity; her eyes would flash—and she would exclaim—'What!—to be trod down and not turn! Do you take the people to be of wood or of stone!' Oh! her eye, her cheek, her way, her half-rising from the chair—it was all fine. And the words are as strong, I put them there in my note-book—have kept them all these years. Perhaps I missed in giving them just now, but that is their substance. And that is one reason why I never went full on the nigger question—the nigger would not turn—would not do anything for himself—he would only act when prompted to act. No! no! I should not like to see the nigger in the saddle—it seems unnatural; for he is only there when propped there, and propping don't civilize. I have always had a latent sympathy for the Southerner—and even for those in Europe—the Cavalier-folk—hateful as they are to me abstractly—un-democratic—from putting myself in a way in their shoes. Till the nigger can do something for himself, little can be done for him."
He spoke of "the line of social demarkation in the lower orders" as "very much more obvious than that higher up."

     W. spoke of Washington—the cost of living there as high: "Yet no city I would better like for living than Washington—it is so open—so little crowded—so unrestricted. Yet Washington is no longer the place for the Capital: fifty years from now the Capital will be elsewhere—off towards the great West—to the Mississippi or beyond. There'll be a devil of a row, but it'll be done."

     He spoke quite warmly with Harned about the Le Coney trial. "Was it not rather a trial of lawyers?—a tournament of legalism?" And yet— "though I believed the man guilty, I should not have convicted him; there were turns and turns in the evidence which preserved an air of doubt straight along." Yet he questioned Harned closely. "The thing that impressed me deeply was Jenkins' statement after the trial—several days after, that he believed Le Coney guilty if ever man was."

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Harned put in— "I heard even the judge on the bench say that—Judge Garrison." To which W.: "That is even more significant—of vast moment in the making up of my own mind."

     Could not find Phillips at the Press office today. He is never there on Saturdays.


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