Commentary

Disciples


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Thursday, April 10, 1890

     5.30 P.M. W. in room. Very much better in appearance. But said: "I spent a bad night—the worst yet: all tickling, tickling, choking, from the mouth to the diaphragm. But there is ease today,—comparative ease." Then: "I have had visitors today—two: old Dr. Furness, Horace Howard, the son: and oh! the grand, good, old man! He is quite an antique, but a [physiognomy], too. A wonderful spectacle—an old man, at such an age men are rarely given: to me a breath from divinities!"

     Again—inquiring what papers I had in my hand, he looked at Harper's Weekly and Young People—remarking: "I feel each week almost, a shove forward in this sense—a marvellous step. Even in the daily papers. Why, in the Record, yesterday, was the head—the head of a murderer—and how

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good it was! A distinct advance certainly, in ten years. I watch it: it gives me hope: it means the democratizing of art along with other things."
Then happening to turn on to the editorial page, a passage caught his eye—he reading to me— "President Harrison has written something in favor of the removal of the tariff on art,"—adding thereto: "Oh! I did not think the little man had spunk enough to do that—or sense, even. We are indebted to our friend Tom Donaldson in good part for the imposition of this tax: he mainly lobbied it, I think. Though how a fellow can be a Leaves-of-Grass-man and fall into such a ditch defeats all my explanations. Tariffs and Leaves of Grass! No-no: there is an inevitable, implacable, antagonism!"

     Then back to art improvements again. "I have thought, how much can be done with stained glass—how much has been done: have thought of my own head, with an idea of having it so produced. Think of it—some method by which nominally to produce these heads—give them currency! It has color, radiance; color is such an element in me—red, white. Think of a window in some lofty dome—far up—fronting the strong light"—gesturing, lifting head and glance— "and there our giants—a head here, a head there. Take the old Doctor's—take Hedge's—how they would serve the hunger of the eye! I should suppose it might be made an inspiration—a democratic inspiration. I did not say this to the Doctor today—they did not make a great stay of it. I was not well—feeling like the devil—a bad night arguing a bad day, of course. A fellow could not stand many such nights!—they would break the last cords!"

     Once again he remarked: "I have been looking further into Brinton's book: it is a simple, direct, story—bears repeated consultation. I think Brinton our man—achieving effects after a natural way or none at all!" He had sent a copy to Kennedy. "I shall send one to John Burroughs—but I had some doubt whether it would interest Stedman."


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     Talked definitely of next week. "I think your plan of waiting till Sunday the best one: I should like to have the benefit of it. It is no trifle, which I want to resign, but a pledge I want to make good. I must of course, judge well of myself, I must not go—so be-devilled—worn—to be put on the stage in a half-comatose condition"—he laughed heartily at the ludicrous picture— "flaccid—to slump. That must be guarded against. I want to come—it is part of my duty yet while living, if I can. No one can know the will, the egotism, that bears me on to this—not you, even—nor Dr. Bucke. My hope has been diminishing little by little, but not yet to a total negative."

     Called my attention to a copy of The Universal Review—wondered if I could get him another copy in Philadelphia. The Sarrazin piece there evidently in full, in the French. "I think it is the same old piece—there is every evidence of it—except the reading evidence. I do not think the magazine of a very high order, though that number certainly has things to recommend it. If I had Morris right here, I would ask him for viva voce renderings: that would give me clues. But it is not worth going to any trouble about."

     When I left, he said to me again: "Let us hold Tuesday open to events: say Saturday or Sunday—they will safely indicate: we will be guided by what they argue—bad or good."


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