Commentary

Disciples


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Monday, October 7, 1889

     7.30 P.M. W. in his own room—the wood-fire burning lustily, and the air one of comfort. He asked me immediately— "Is it too warm? How is it out-of-doors?" Had been reading the Century. Did not look, nor was he, well. Some Boston girl writes me a long letter for W.'s autograph—almost pathetic in its exhortation. I gave it to W., with the return stamped envelope. He addressed it mock-seriously— "Mr. Stamp—I am very much afraid I shall confiscate you and consign

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the rest of you to the fire."
I said— "I'm afraid you will, too." W. then— "How well—how good a hand—Miss Lady writes! It is a relief to look at the like"—and carefully put the stamp away. Ed came in for mail as we talked there. W. wrote Rhys today.

     McKay has bound up all the "After All, Not to Create Only"—sheets. Gave me a copy—sent one over for W. to sign for him. W. took and regarded the book with an evident affection. But he laughed about signing it. "I do not think I need to sign it: it does not need signing. There is the name on the title page—then here it is inside again. I do not like to triplicate it—then triplicate the triplicate." He turned it over and over. "It has been a long, long time since I saw it—a long long time." Then he read the Washington Chronicle extract towards the end. "Who wrote it?" I asked, as I read with him over his shoulder. His answer was, "I wonder?"—adding— "It is very good, anyhow," and saying further of the book as a whole— "It is wonderful neat—wonderful! How healthy the print!—the big clean type! Why, yes, it is a revelation to me, also—a new book to me. How many did you say Dave had? Several hundred? It did not sell—did not sell at all. Roberts must have issued about a thousand." And turning to the pictorial cover— "This is my design—I conceived it—it has a good familiar look, after a long absence. The whole book as it is here commends itself to me." I remarked that I suppose Dave got possession of these at auction. This seemed to arouse some latent intention in him, for he instantly addressed me: "I have been thinking, Horace, I should myself like to sell out bag and baggage to Dave—sell him all I have here, copyrights, everything—with permission, at any rate, to publish, ad libitum, to the year 1900. The time has come for me to unload. I shall kick the bucket soon—very soon—then something will have to be done, and what is done might just as well, or better, be done by me here and now." His voice was quite strong, though the tone rather more sad than

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I had known it for a long time. "I should like you to get at Dave on the subject: don't push it—try him only, some day—not hurriedly—he will have to be felt at the start. I don't know that he would care to do it—perhaps not—but I think he would. After the preliminaries, if he consents, we may tell him what we have and ask an offer of him. As it is now he is in my power: I could clap down on him in an hour—stop him outright. It is a serious turn for me all around." Gloomily he talked. Whereas heretofore he has fought all notion of making even a 5-year's contract with McKay, now comes this. Unless he urges it again, I shall say nothing to Dave. My personal feeling is strong against a precipitate step, as this would be.

     Ed says W. woke up in just such a dubious mood. There have been no visitors nor outward events which could have induced the humor. I asked him if he had been ill. He answered— "Yes and no—not more so than yesterday, but that sick." Was it the digestion? "Yes—that and something more—a great deal more. I am generally ailing—broken up—breaking." Attributes part of it to confinement—yet fears to risk the chilliness out of doors—is so extremely sensitive. Said yesterday to Ed, "We must make a start again." But the start remains unmade. I advised Ed to talk with W. about his departure and he promised he would. When I entered I had found W. struggling with the disadvantages of the dirty chimney of his gas-jet by the aid of a candle, he attempting so to read. It was a suggestive picture, and funny, too. Is disinclined for business affairs. Having matters done about the house, he always solicits others to do them. Repairs on back shed he appealed to Mrs. Davis to attend to. "Don't send them to me," he pleaded.


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