Commentary

Disciples


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 344] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Saturday, March 29, 1890

     7.58 P.M. Found W. sitting in the parlor with Harned—talking about the dinner, concerning which H. was questioning him closely. W. had not yet made up a list—indeed was "feeling bad"—explaining: "If I had the Club Lincoln reception to be asked about over again, I should say no; for I certainly have the grippe, and am in no humor for speech-making." I asked him how it affected him. "Chiefly in the chest—with a chokiness—down here"—placing his hand at the opening of his shirt— "but worst of all, in the head and at night: it disturbs my rest." His voice somewhat husky, and he coughed some. Yet talked cheerily and freely. "I shall try to weather it out: probably two or three days will show me how I stand, if standing at all—as I guess I will."

     I asked if he had received the Critic, and he answered affirmatively. In it was this: "In her lecture on 'The Literature and Religion of Ancient Egypt' at Chickering Hall last Friday evening, Miss Edwards said that the poetry of the Egyptians, although singularly regardless of rhyme and metre, like Walt Whitman's verse today, is true poetry of a high order." W. liked this—it was "warm feeling from an unexpected quarter": and when Harned recounted one of Miss Edwards' heroisms— "After all the women lead—seem, the fine samples of 'em—to justify themselves." And by way of general comment: "I should not wonder but in 10 or 20 years we would shift our ground—that we would date no more from the Greek culture, but the Egyptian."—Harned dissenting—preferring the Greek, but W. continuing: "But no matter, Tom: it's not what we like but what is—it brings in our Colonel Ingersoll's question again—is it true?—how about its truth?" And further— "I have for some years noticed that trend in scholars—at least in some of them."

     The reference to Ingersoll brought on questions of pulpit orators: W. remarking: "Have either of you read Talmage's

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 345] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
sermon on Angels? It is a most remarkable performance: it is the funniest thing I have read this many a day: why, yes—not only hears the flap of their wings—as much as knows what they have for dinner too! You ought to see it: I shall probably somewhere come across two copies of it, which I want you both to read: it will show you your own straying: for here is one on the most intimate terms with the unknown!"
And W. laughed with the greatest heartiness. "I suppose Talmage has some sort of power—yes, what they call oratorical power—a transcendent audacity—a determination at all hazards to ram his doctrines down your throat. Has had immense congregations." Yet Talmage was "by no means the right man" "Brooklyn—New York—now offers the biggest field to the equal personality—the Beecher and more—the man who can grasp the situation—who has the tongue of fire, the burning heart—who flows out, not reads out: who fills any platform without notes—who has a message for struggling humanity." Beecher had been "a great man"—yet "not entirely free, still somewhere, or several wheres, manacled. But the new man must be free, must have an untrammeled spirit." Very specific as to Beecher's power in the pulpit. "He spoke with few notes—and that, by the way, is a matter of habit; start with notes and it's all up with you—but start young impromptuing, as it is called—though it is not that, as you have just shown in the case of Professor Adler—and all is right." And then he added— "I notice Salter is cutting a great swathe in Boston—seems to be getting a great hold there." Salter only in Boston on a visit: spoke at Harvard. I had a note and some MS. from him today.

     W. said Gilchrist had been over this week "one night. Herbert comes late—generally when I am about to go to bed—though I am glad to see him, of course—he is always welcome." Immense storms (floods &c, chiefly west) in the country. Vessels missing—the great "City of Paris" had a long passage but today was reported arrived in England. W. said he

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 346] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
had felt intense interest— "and it is good news to know it is safe."

     He thought the truly great preacher ought to have "enough money but not too much"—and explained— "I mean, ought to be limited—say, to two or three thousand a year."


Comments?

Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Ed Folsom & Kenneth M. Price, editors.