Commentary

Disciples


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Tuesday, May 6, 1890

     5.50 P.M. W. sitting—not reading in his room. A posy of flowers—pansies &c.—in a little glass on the table, which he frequently applied to his nose—expressing joy thereat— "the first fresh spring flowers—oh! how blessed!" As to his health: "Oh! I am much eased! There is certainly an improvement—and I have eaten some."

     Curious—how he always questions—like a child. "What have you got there?"—questioning about a package— "What is all that mass of paper?" I laughed and he did too. He handed me a copy of O'Connor's Donnelly book from a chair. "Didn't you ask me for it? No?" and then— "Oh! it was Tom then? Well—take it to him: I knew somebody about here asked for it. Take it to him—I have it here—back from John Burroughs. And here is John's letter, too: it came today: take it—when you are through we will send it to Dr. Bucke—the good Doctor!—and he soon to be here, too!—just about a week now! Oh! it is a great comfort to see faces."—ending as if in reflection.


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     I talked with Harned last night about dinner on the 31st. W.'s condition so dubious, we hesitate to make public preparation. Resolved therefore, to have a limited number at H.'s home, using his parlor (to be freed for the purpose) expense to be borne by a group. I explained this to W., who said— "I like it far better as arranged that way. Even so, Horace, I feel it is a little doubtful whether I shall be able to get there. I should say, limit it to 20—not more than 20 at the most—make no effort to do [have?] more. This last flash of the comet's tail has been a severe one—has badly damaged me—has left me way up on shore. It is true, I have a way of coming about. As a usual thing, however great the impedimenta, I come out at the last moment, perhaps scarred, but not ruined. And it may prove so again. Napoleon always found an exit—could always extricate himself—until the last, until his Waterloo—which was the end of the narrative. I shall have my Waterloo, no doubt soon, but till then?"—As to having Bush and others who have never met him come to the dinner— "If I were asked my own preference, I should say, no—I'd rather they did not come: I do not like to make my first appearance in such condition as I enjoy now—especially as I have been now for several days—weak, broken, disabled."

     Has been writing some today. I alluded to the Century poem—to Harned's high opinion of it: used in touching upon it, the word "latest," as treating style &c. W. then: "That is literally my latest work—it was written within the past 2 or 3 months—sent to the Century—paid for. They sent me proof—said they wished to use at once—asked for a sub-title, which I gave them. I did not like the idea at first, nor after the idea the actual line, but now such objections as I had (they were not positive at all) are mostly gone. I sent it, complied, because"—laughing merrily— "because I usually send what I am paid for." I interrupted— "You will do that, but you will not alter or deduct?" "No: oh! I am exceedingly touchy about changes—will not hear to 'em—hate to have even a

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comma go wrong. But the Century folks treat me well—very well; I find they humor all my eccentricities."

     He wishes 50 copies of the next number of Conservator, desiring "to send them far and near—many abroad." Bucke's article appears there— "and it is so satisfactory, strong, virile." I brought to his attention the bill received today from Oldach—balance of between 40 and 50 dollars, now standing nearly a year. "He has treated us well," W. said, "we must pay him, and at once."

     Joking about my increased salary: "You must look out—you will be in danger of growing rich: riches are so many threats!" Of Aldrich— "He has there in the Century, a dainty sonnet"—["I vex me not with brooding on the years"]— "Yet more than dainty, too: the best thing I have known from Aldrich."

     We spoke of indications of health—how far out, how far in. W. "You are right: it was not the big burly partly rosy fellows to whom our officers looked in the war days for the best service, but to agile men—men of long-enduring sinew—often small, but lithe." And— "In the hospitals, pain, horror, was best sustained by the smallest men."


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