Commentary

Disciples


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Thursday, May 29, 1890

     5.45 P.M. W. in the parlor—had been out in the chair today. Looked much better and felt better. Had with me a copy of Story's "A Roman Lawyer of the 2nd Century"—which W. said he had "never seen" but would like to read. I therefore leaving it.

     Knowing I was reading "Diderot," from Ellis, he shook his head. "It is not deep—not penetrating." I expressed the feeling that the book as a whole did not reach my expectations—that it was too literary—not enough above average criticism. W. thereupon: "That is a just view—I share it fully: except at points he does not rise to the occasion. It is the rock upon which some of our best fellows split—the too-literariness of structure, tendency. These things can never mark our men—the Leaves-of-Grass-ers—those who believe in primary human emotional qualities first of all—the elemental juices, so to call them."

     No word from Ingersoll yet. W. said: "It is too much to hope for a good word." I put in— "No—the delay itself proves to me that he is trying to come." W. then: "That is the hopeful view, anyhow: let us hold to it!" I specified to him the list of names as so far known and he appeared well satisfied. "The whole drift of things as you have managed it—described it—appeals to me: it is an expression of youth, of hope, of trust, of belief in our future, our cause—oh yes! all that and more!—Brinton and Bucke old? No! the spirit of the dinner is all young—as such commands me! For my pleasure it could not have assumed a better form." And further: "As I have been sitting here the last few days, the thought has come: 'What can I do for this occasion—what word, utterance, idea, feeling, express, contribute? What can I? Tell me?" Further— "This will undoubtedly be my last public appearance—" I interrupted laughingly— "Like the farewells of actors? You always seem to come around again, whatever your fears." He laughed very heartily and after being composed again—

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"That's funny—but Horace—you little know how near my consciousness it is that what I say is true—that this is my last—that there comes an end, and here are we, near the end! And I know you would say then, all the more reason why we should retreat gracefully, with the best force and tact that is in us! Now, how shall that be?" I had suggested the other day, his writing some lines, printing and distributing them, if the spirit moved him: but he has not done that— "My condition has been against it." Now he asked: "How would it do for me to select a couple of lines—print them on cards—enough for the diners—signing and dating them myself?" Which idea after discussion was decided on. "I cannot promise it," he explained, "I cannot bear to be urged—but we shall see." And as to what two lines— "any two lines—they are easily found—the only point being that they are not inappropriate."

     Gave me a copy of the big book to give to Jennie May—just married to Sam Fels—which I transferred with Anne's and my greetings added.


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