Commentary

Disciples


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Wednesday, October 9, 1889

     7.30 P.M. In his room, reading paper—light on full, and wood in stove burning bright. Very warm with his "Horace—Ah! how do you do?" And his, "Take a seat." Frank Williams in to see me today. Spoke of his desire occasionally to see W., yet hesitation about intruding. But W. said: "Frank should come—he is very considerate—I always like him there. I love him, his wife, his family. They have been very kind to me in ways that provoke sweet memories. Then Frank is a generous, fine fellow, on the right track, too. I don't know about Protection—I suppose he is a Protectionist—all Pennsylvanians are, perforce. What do you learn of it? Is Frank counted the other side for that?" "But otherwise he was always genuine, hearty." I spoke of Williams' curiosity to see Symonds' note, of which he had heard from Morris. W. thereupon: "He does well to be curious: it is the highest utterance of all—it is the most decisive, defiant trumpet-note of all: not a quaver—not a sign of doubt in it: not a word to detract from, to weaken, it. And we must think who it comes from if we want truly to measure its significance: Symonds, of the literati a distinguished member—among the most distinguished—a man who has made his title clear—labored, succeeded, got a hearing, credited with authority by the London Times, the reviews, big quarterlies, men of distinct literary note: a man of books, about whom it cannot be said, 'he don't know what he's talking about.'"

     W. said, "Dave was over today." I asked, "Don't you feel richer than when I was here last night?" And answered with a laugh: "Yes—he paid me a matter of 88 dollars." For how long? "I don't know—the bill is here—" yet he could not find it, so continued— "Never mind—I probably would not understand it better if I had it. I suppose if I set right out to do it—had to do it—it might be made clear. They say, figures can't lie. I would suggest the saying without the 'can't.' That has

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been my experience."
I suggested— "Figures can't lie, but figurers can"—and he laughed heartily. "This is better—and they do!"—instancing statisticians; Atkinson and others. Could not get sheets of book today—not yet at Oldach's. Left word for W.'s stitched copy. Nor could I get bust prints; printed, but not sufficiently dry.

     Ed has finally decided to go. Has spoken to W. about it. W. is "adverse to a change"—greatly likes Ed—but would not advise him to risk his future, if it was risked, as it seemed to be, by staying. Ed hopes to go on the 20th, but will stay over a few days if we cannot get a new man in time.

     I asked W. if he really had any idea Boulanger would enter France, raise his standard there, go to Paris? He answered: "No—I don't think he's going—do you? I know he has got started—has got as far as Jersey—which is on the way—but it will amount to nothing. He is either crazy or a fool or both—probably both. Boulanger is a sort of lay-figure—the essence of all the parties of reaction in France. Yet the wonder is, how small the Monarchists turned up after all at the election—hardly making a respectable minority—President Carnot and his men clearly and easily and assuringly ahead." "Yet," W. continued, "unhappy the country without a party of the opposition—though there are oppositions and oppositions. Even Washington is examined—needs to be examined. I do not mean by a party of the opposition such parties as we have today—but a party!" Then turning the talk: "Herbert was here last night for awhile after you left. He had nothing new to tell—only to speak of his departure, which he has set for February. He pegs away at his picture—his Cleopatra—seems to be in a very complacent mood about it." Here W. broke out in a louder tone— "He does not like the picture—this"—reaching forward toward the chair but not finding what he wished, then explaining— "I mean Morse's picture—the picture of the bust. But I do—I have been looking at it by daylight—it satisfies me greatly—more than I could have

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supposed. I like it, irrespective of what others may think about it—there's something to it, noble, pure, severe—a beautiful something—who could say what? That last truth—the quality we know in friends, in persons—yet cannot measure in words, or begin to."
W. said: "The best biographical material of all—if you wished it for your article—is in Specimen Days: there is no mistake about that—no 'interpretation': what is there is confession."


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