Commentary

Disciples


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Thursday, October 3, 1889

     8 P.M. W. in his room, reading a newspaper. "I have just been down stairs," he said to me. We talked some time together alone—and after a while Gilchrist came in. When I left, G. was still there.

     He had enclosed several matters in an envelope for me to attend to—and written instructions on the outside—then he laughed, giving it to me— "Don't lose the 5-pound note: that has a special importance to me"—I put in— "Nor the check, for that has a special importance to Oldach"—at which he laughed again heartily— "That is more true than many things!" he exclaimed.

     Remarked his amusement over the newspaper criticism of Curtis for his civil service reform speech the other day in Phila. "It makes me think of an expression I used to hear up along Long Island when I was a boy—signifying, here are people damning a man for the one good act of his life. But it is easy for Harrison to have defenders—the man in power, the party in power, power itself, emolument, office, show, never want for friends—friends as friends of that sort go. But what does it all amount to—a defense set on such pins?"

     He spoke of what one paper calls "the All-America

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Congress"—of representatives [diplomats from Central and South American countries, who were welcomed to Washington by Secretary of State Blaine]. "I read Blaine's speech—read it all—liked it all—it was fine—all in the right spirit—broad—expansive—the best thing Blaine ever did. But the most wonderful thing about it all is the jaunt the delegates will make—5 thousand miles by rail, about America—the United States—never changing cars—starting from Washington—going to New England, to the West, coming back again, in the very cars that took them first. Blaine will not go with them, but he has thrown everything of good purpose in the scale for them—eased their going about—sent his men—engaged with the railroads—thrown the panoply of the government about them. I took to his little speech: it started off a little materialistically—like Colfax's speeches long ago, and Banks'—N. O. Banks'—I remember, they always measured success by so much land, goods—so many dollars—and so Blaine's speech at the start, though there was more than that to it." He said much of this over again for Gilchrist's benefit, when he came in later on. Said moreover: "No—I don't think the broadest significance of this strikes Blaine or any of them—but it is a good thing, nevertheless—it will produce its own results—good results—notwithstanding. It will not strike Harrison, surely—Harrison is the man out of all the rest of them to calculate action with reference to its political effect—no, worse than that, even—rather party than political effect. But the universe takes its road—is on and on and on—and events prosper far more than the actors believe, understand—in spite of them. It is all provided for in the inherencies of things."

     Said he had had a letter from Bucke about the book. When would it come?

     Touched upon Chase— "a man out of men—a trivial, damnable man,—a dangerous, handsome man. I always thought D. Ridge here on our street much resembling him—I mean

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in form. In head, Chase was noble, almost impressive—deceptively so. Carlyle did not believe in our democracy—criticised it out of a divine disbelief, and I always welcomed his criticisms—always thought them valuable—do now: but Chase's, from the inside, were the most hateful, insidious, to be imagined. In all these things it was not the surface alone that gave importance to events, but the undercurrents, the bases: while Lincoln and Grant greatly, not them alone."
War was not luck— "often it is something of the sort—a sortie, an assault, a surprise, a surrender—something of that sort—but that is not the whole story. In long-prepared transactions—in arranged, calculated, campaigns—in persevering effort, like Lincoln's, Grant's—towards a great purpose—acknowledging no defeat—there is no luck—no chance. It is like our fine macadamized roads—not the surface alone, but the underpinning—the basis—there is nearly the whole virtue: if that is bad—if the determination of the soil yields—the soil lacks it—all is lost. No one can know as I know how this applies to Lincoln: not enemies at the front alone but in the rear—everywhere—subtle, keen, unscrupulous. I was myself a New Yorker—nestled in the very bone—perhaps not heart, but brain, viscera, of the malcontent—knew it all—from what it came—what was to be expected of it—realized how dark and rapid a weapon it could be. Yet Lincoln, knowing it all, was calm in it all—persevered in his way." Such the drift of his talk.

     I received a card of introduction of Prof. Huidekoper for Ed from Brinton today, who has gone to New York. W. informed me Ed had gone over, not found the professor in but found out at what hour to get at him tomorrow.


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