Commentary

Disciples


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Friday, October 11, 1889

     7.45 P.M. W. in his room. Reading Burns. Seemed in a very happy mood, and talked more freely than I had known for a long time, except perhaps last night. I brought him several of Scott's novels from McKay. He had asked for them when Dave was over the other day, and had written a postal afterwards to jog his memory. Three volumes—"Rob Roy"—"Woodstock"—two of them—the third I forget. W. looked at them affectionately— "Yes—Rob Roy—Woodstock"—two of them—the third I forget. W. looked at them affectionately— "Yes—Rob Roy—Woodstock"—mentioning also the third— "all welcome—and for all, thanks to Dave, and thanks to you for bringing them." Adding— "Oh! these will ease my days here!" Brought him also a copy of "Gems of Walt Whitman," Miss Gould's book—which he regarded favorably for its appearance. "For looks, it starts out very well," he said, pointing to the cover, "and the title-page—it is good, too, though I never did believe any in the book and don't now." One of the headlines "Gems from Whitman" omitting the "Walt"—I remarked its peculiarity and W. said: "You are right—I like it better 'Walt Whitman' myself: that is one of the points on which I agree with Dr. Bucke—with Dr. Bucke it is always 'Walt' Whitman, never 'Whitman' alone. The 'Walt' has come to seem almost essential." Then laughed a little when I spoke of the Bucke letter he had given me last night. "Yes—Doctor was excited—is apt to get that way at times—it is a part of his nature. Of course I know it is not your fault that the book has been slow to turn up." Explaining: "The letter he speaks of there of Kennedy's was an

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old one—sometimes in writing little myself I enclose some word from another to make amends."

     I spoke of a letter I had this evening in re the fund. W. expressed his liking for B. and described him: "You know our man Sam Grey? Mostly his figure—just such a body—florid—quite gray. He is a man of fine presence—erect—straight—noble. In some respects a man like Arnold—very articulate, warm, enthusiastic—fond of saying his say—not offensively so—the contrary, in fact—but articulate in a sense that offsets extreme reticence, quiet, on the other side, as we see it sometimes." Sheets of book not available yet to-day—W. again disappointed, but laughing it off. I wrote B. last night advising him not to be impatient. Left a copy of October New England Magazine with W. to read. Picture of Wm. T. Harris among others arrested his eye. I said, "That looks a good deal like our Corning here" and he— "It does indeed—is him!" Going on after a pause, "So it is meant for Harris? Somehow it don't strike me as much like, yet it is a first rate piece of engraving. I know Harris—have met him—like him. Of course, he's entirely too metaphysical for me—entirely—but as a man he recommends himself. When I was in St. Louis years ago he was very attentive, kind, to me—came to see me—counselled me. I remember he brought me a great stack of metaphysical documents which I made a heroic effort to understand: but it was no go—I could not take the least hold—it was beyond me. Yet I feel the man is very cute, profound, in such things, himself."

     W. said at another moment: "Clifford was here today—and the baby, too, and Mrs. Clifford. What a wonderful institution that baby is! and so beautiful!—it was a joy to look at her merely. How the children are great beyond our conception, rules, of power, greatness! baffle us!—shame us! And I notice a difference in children—how great the difference between the parlor children and the children you meet on the streets, in the country, on boats, in the open air anyhow. And they

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will always resist having their likingnesses forced—will like this person or that, or not, for reasons their own—will not be dictated to, too closely guided."
He said of Clifford: "Clifford is quite Greek, isn't he? Even decidedly, markedly, Greek?—what I call gay-hearted, buoyant—especially gay-hearted. I am fond of calling Leaves of Grass gay-hearted—I wonder if it is? Clifford has it in him to be all that—has its complexion, voice, port." He advised me: "Go to work on the article—it is time you were at it: if there's anything at all I can do in connection with it, I stand willing." Remarked the constant odor of the grapes in the room. Said he liked it very much. Had caught a glimpse of the light of the full moon, and asked me— "How does it seem? Oh! to be on the water such a night!" Is having repairs made on the house. Advises Ed to oversee it "just as if it was your own."

     Clifford wrote me thus of his visit:

     Oct. 11, '89, J.H.C., Mrs. C. and Hilda—three and a half years—paid to W.W. a visit which, for the child's sake chiefly, had been contemplated for a full year. The three arrived at the Mickle Street house just before 12 o'clock, to learn from the housekeeper who cautiously guarded the door that W. had only a moment before "gone upstairs." Learning who the visitors were she consented to take up information of their arrival, and presently returned to say that W. would come down directly. In a minute or two the slow-moving form bent upon the stairs entered the lower room with hearty greetings for all three, and words of special welcome to the child so often reported to him with her "dear old Walt" inspired by love of his various portraits. He spoke of her "wealth of hair" and made some gentle endeavor to remove the shyness with which she, in spite of affectionate prepossession, could not quite help shrinking from the presence which must have seemed to her so massive and mighty. A few minutes talk, then the little group rose to leave, and W. said: "Hearing the little girl had come to see me, I put this big apple in my

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pocket for her."
The great red apple was accepted, and as soon as the child was out of doors its quality was tested with more assurance than that of the giver had been, who nevertheless had declared himself better for the call.


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