Commentary

Disciples


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Thursday, March 20, 1890

     6.50 P.M. W. in his room, reading the evening paper. On a chair near him a pile of papers—Camden's Morning News—containing a ¾ column article "Whitman's Old Age." W. had secured a number of them—made up 15 or 20 for relations and friends. Called it "pretty reliable: for a newspaper report, remarkably so!" Adding: "It was a young man named Kake who came—or Cake—the son, he told me, of a minister somewhere hereabouts; and this was his first 'take'—he had made no reports before of any kind. I encouraged him all I could." And afterwards: "But as you say, Jeff (meaning Charley Jefferis) was no doubt there at his elbow when he wrote it up, making good suggestions—putting it together, joining it." Kake was with W. last evening. W. put on an incredulous look at the point [which] mentioned that he had read "The Wound-Dresser" aloud to his visitor—but however I tried, I could not get a yes or no from him whether the statement was true. His whole look, and every probability, said "no".

     W. gave me a 5-pound note—the one spoken of some time ago, to get changed for him in Philadelphia—I should pay Ferguson out of it. Thought there should be "an international money—there would be, when the right solidarity of man" was "accomplished."

     He expressed curiosity to see the changes in Philadelphia architecture. Had sat in his chair here on the river bank and noted across there great buildings new to his eye— "undoubtedly not up in the days I traversed the streets." And he asked: "How would it do the afternoon of the Club meeting—to have the carriage come early and give me the glimpse." But then he remembered— "perhaps the fatigue would be too great—

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I should have much care. But we'll see, anyway—we'll pin the idea up for consideration."
Thought I might give a copy of the News to Morris— "though there's nothing in it—hardly a word, if that—news to my intimate friends or to those who, like Morris, know my intimate friends."

     Referred again to Bismarck. "Only time—50 years—a hundred—can tell the wisdom of this move—perhaps explicate the peculiar place of the man. The man among our public men whom he most resembles is Stanton. No doubt Bismarck fitted well to the years of his service—was the needed man." And of von Moltke and Bismarck— "their wonderful reserve." "Oh! the wonder of silence in those men!" And he added: "The great man is not only the man who conceives an idea but the man who can incorporate that idea into practical working human life—of a nation, class, what-not. Bismarck was such a man. Others may have dreamed the unity of Germany—he fulfilled it. We might say as well of Luther—his great fight against all the devils of earth. No doubt thousands before him had inwardly lived his protest against the Popes: but with him it was death to be silent: he seized the idea—saw that it was concretely realized. He, too, with the greatest, in his own way. It is curious to know how Frederick's diary threatened Bismarck's laurels. I do not know but Frederick did first officially conceive [?] the idea. I place less importance to that than others are apt to do."


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