Commentary

Disciples


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Friday, May 2, 1890

     5.15 P.M. W. reading the paper—in his own room. Just finished dinner. Not out today— "not extra well"—yet, as he says, "I am mad now I did not go out!" Writing—this afternoon—verse—under the headline— "Go forth, ye jocund twain!"

     Paid him 5 dollars for the copy of Leaves of Grass delivered to Edelheim. Told W. E. had also given me $15 towards the fund. He exclaimed— "God bless him! the good man!" And then: "I wonder if this would in any way have cast light for Elias Hicks? Elias had a bitter question to put to himself, especially in later years: he would say—speaking of the Bible— 'When I think of the misery it has caused in the world, the carnage, the wrong, on the one hand, and then of the good on the other, I am at a loss on which side the balance lies.' But," said W. "I am not: to me it is a perfectly clear proportion."

     Spoke of the suspension of a bank in Camden—and I thought a little anxiously—of "that at Second and Market." Adding— "If that should go up, my world would go up with it." Aldrich had a poem in the Century. W. spoke of him as "almost poetic"—enlarging, however, to the effect— "there is fire in him—something more than ordinary." He had read "Baby Bell" and other bits of A.'s work. Dowden's letter has not turned up yet.

     Talked of historic reputation. The value of history I thought often in counsel of what to avoid rather than in measures to adopt. W. thought: "That is so: and history is interesting when it shows what contemporary men thought of events—how deceived

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they mostly are. Mirabeau was a good instance: in his own day and for 40 years after, adored, almost deified—yet now known for a man who would have rivalled Tweed in political debauchery—a most consummate handler of bribes."
How, for instance, about the current reputations of Darwin and Emerson? "They will last—they in a way justify themselves—are sufficient unto themselves." This led him to say of Emerson and the charges that he was "dignified to excess, and icy of exterior, at least."— "No"—shaking his head— that is a mistake—at first glance, Emerson was a little timid—some would call him finicky: but soon all the impression of that flies, and there remains the solid enduring qualities. Emerson may have seemed distant to those who were absorbed in literary finesse, in gossip, in commonplace affairs—because he took but little interest in that direction; but on the world's field he was a master—a man. He had not O'Connor's conversational power, to be sure—in the first place, he would not have wished for it, then had not the right training. O'Connor was a powerful talker—eloquent—of widest interests, sympathies. He set out for such possessions."

     A picture of Bonnat in the Bazaar by Dubois excited W.'s admiration. First he commented on the engraving—then on "the marvellous expression of the sculptor's own work."


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