Commentary

Disciples


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Monday, April 28, 1890

     4.50 P.M. W. had just finished dinner—was reading the American. Frank Williams had sent him a copy. Said he had enjoyed it. Morris has an article there, which W. had read. "It is quite pessimistic," he said, "decidedly so. Tell Morris for me that he'd better look out: it'll do him no good, and may ruin him. It is a dangerous fire to fool with. I know there are things in Morris' life which may account in part for this: but

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not wholly—rather, he is in the line of the ages' tendency—the Occidental tendency, as I call it. All the literary fellows, almost, take it—assume it, breathe it in as a fashion—are affected by it even when they do not know it. But Morris is too good a boy to go down that incline. I think it the bane of our civilization—the Western civilization—Europe—as distinguished from that which we call Oriental—that this drift bears all on its crest. The age must take a turn from that—eventually take higher courses. Even William O'Connor, who, of all men, you would think protected, exempt, bore traces of it, from head to toe."
I said, "But O'Connor was so powerful, so native and strong, I think this was merely an incident in his life." W. then: "Yes—you are right: I should have qualified what I said without being prompted to it: O'Connor was marvellously gifted, for music and battle, both."

     I should thank Frank Williams for his American note— "Tell him it is just what I could have hoped for—to the point, not piling too much on." Wished papers particularly sent to Dowden and Rossetti abroad. Williams in to see me about newspaper friends of W. W. I gave him addresses of Kennedy, Baxter, Walsh, Habberton, Chambers. W. commended.

     W. was out this afternoon for half an hour or so. "The air was a little pungent—champagney: but strong, pleasant." Harned had been in "a couple of hours ago," and "he brought me the deed of the cemetery lot. So you see" laughing— "I am now sure of a place to be buried in—if that has any importance. Was't it Hamlet who said it had not?"

     Further: "Jim Scovel has been here today also—tries to prove to me that I ought to attend the planked shad dinner: but of course I declined." He thought it "would be very fortunate" if he "prove able to attend the birthday dinner on the 31st of May"—for he "had considerable of dubiosity, even as to that." His condition now he realized "at its full gravity" and knew he "must take greatest care."


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     He had a letter from Stoddart today. "He is quite willing to pay my price for the poems, pieces, I sent him the other day, but suggests that he would like to use them, one a month rather than in the way I suggested. I thought I would like them to go in—fill a page—perhaps under some common headline. But I have written him I am quite willing he should follow out his own idea. I should like it better the other way, but it is not a point that presses upon me either side." He characterized Stoddart as "a man no doubt fully qualified for his place—and enough of the conventional literary man to fit with Philadelphia: perhaps the better fitted for not having strong quality. Philadelphia wants the Allibones—editors—pickers—dilettante—the slighter natures—daintier vessels. No—Stoddart is by no means the man Walsh is. It never struck me to ask myself that question, but now you ask it, I can see how far more keen, penetrating, Walsh must be."

     One of the "points of value" in Williams' paragraph was "the quite evident kindliness—the willingness, in a quiet way, to have the world know where Frank stands."

     I left Bucke's "Leaves of Grass and Modern Science" with W. in proof. He was glad to have it. Ingram's daughter had been here. Card on table. "Yes, she is a doctor and quite a fine girl, too. Ingram, himself is true blue: a sample at its best of the middle-class Englishman, pervaded richly with the instinct to good—to extend the circle of brotherhood."


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