Commentary

Disciples


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Monday, May 19, 1890

     5.45 P.M. In with W. about 15 minutes. In his bedroom. Black coat on. Told me he had been out in the chair yesterday: today in the carriage—in the latter "we went down to Gloucester—to Billy Thompson's. No, I did not get out: not a drop to drink." But of Lezinsky as yet no sign.


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     Returned me the Critic. "It is an interesting number—for the Critic: but not great: only above its average—especially the Carlyle matter." Gave me a list of 23 to whom he had sent Conservators—a curious list. "I shall send more—perhaps many." Admired its printing.

     I spoke of my interest in Thoreau. Had read "Concord River" and "Saturday" sketches. W. remarked: "I supposed you would be seized: it is a seizable book. Keep it as long as you choose—forever if you choose. I don't believe I shall ever be moved to read it again." And then he said: "The mutilations are mine: I must have used the pages for something—it was long ago: I do not remember what. I liked Thoreau very much: yet there was something in him, as in his books—a superciliousness, a disdain, of civilization—which was extremely offensive to me."

     Referred again to what I said the other day of pressure upon Kennedy: thought I "ought to write him about it—tell him frankly: it is fully as important as you think" &c. Particularly admonished me— "If you leave a note for Doctor at the ferry, with Ed Lindell, tell him in it to be here sharp at 2 tomorrow"—they having arranged for a drive together.

     I told him our later idea of the birthday was this: to have simply a supper at Harned's for a family of us, and a reception later in the evening to which anyone could come. This would save seeming selective, &c. To which W.: "That is a piquant consideration: I like it, the best yet. An elaborate dinner is not like us anyhow—does not accord with Leaves of Grass. We must save ourselves [from] ridiculousity: that our friends may not misstate us." After the Club meeting tomorrow we have arranged for an informal talk between Brinton, Bucke, Morris, Williams, Harned and Traubel. Brinton acquiescent—Bucke to attend Club with that in view. W. said "I cannot promise to be present: I am not in the condition to promise anything: but if I can I will. So you can make your invitation cards contingent."


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     Referring to Gilder's letter again: "I did not send the poem to Scribner's. That letter is not all cleared to me by any means. Yes, it is a personal poem: but what have I ever written that was not personal? That is our meaning—that is the task we set—the journey we set out to make! I have the letter here still. Sometimes I wish I had kept that other letter—the letter from Holland: quite a long letter it was, too—covering several pages: superfluous and impudent and offensive in the extreme. In a fit of impatience—the moment's impulse—I threw it into the fire." Had it been kept, would it not have thrown some light? He thought so: but "there is no use discussing it now: the milk is spilled."

     Gave W. receipt from Oldach.


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